If you had told me 30 years ago that my two favorite things would collide at the Kennedy Center I think I would have laughed, believed you anyway and then counted the days until I could get tickets. I mean, there had been a version of "The Wizard of Oz" or two in theaters before - but not a Tony winning musical at the Kennedy Center. At least none that I had ever heard of.
So when I found out earlier this year that "Wicked" was coming back to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (aka - The Kennedy Center) and best of all - on my anniversary weekend, I didn't even ask hubby if he would mind if we went. I just asked him where he would want to sit. OK, I don't think I really asked as much as told.
Today was the day we have been planning for since I got the tickets in February or so. Yes, I am late to the "Wicked" band wagon. But in 2003 when it first came out I was just in a new job, dealing with a boyfriend who was getting ready to or just had moved to a new city to start a PhD program and really didn't have the time, money or interest in going up to NYC to see a musical based on a book which was good - but I couldn't see the show in it.
It seems I had been away from theater for too long. I used to live, eat, breath theater - I performed at least 3 times a year all through school starting in sixth grade. I knew the backstage of every theater I ever performed in so well I didn't need my glasses to find my way and I'm pretty blind. I also learned to rely on sound systems and, while I was not very technical, how to balance them.
During my many years of theatrical dedication I was lucky enough to work at the Kennedy Center as an intern. It was Fall Semester 1991 and a paid internship. One of the best educational experiences I could have ever given myself and I was lucky enough to be one of the few who were granted a seat at that table. So, I know those theaters. I especially know how, when the sound system is well balanced, the Opera House's acoustics can help a performer reach every audience member in the house.
Today, the sound system was anything but well balanced.
At first I thought it was me and my noise pollution hearing loss. I thought that's why all I could hear was the orchestra pit and not the actors and actresses on stage. Then I started to wonder if that was the case when Act II started and the Munchkins sounded as though they hadn't been miked at all. We were in the Left Orchestra, we should have heard something when they started singing. We didn't.
I asked my husband when we left if it was just me and did I need to get my ears checked again. Years of working for MTV, Warner Bros., going to concerts and other loud events have taken their toll on my hearing. Every day past 40 when I can still live without the hearing aids I cheer. I thought today might be my last day - but when my husband said all he could hear was music from the pit and only knew there was singing happening because lips were moving I was relieved.
Unfortunately, I cannot give you a good review of the play other than to say I am incredibly disappointed. Disappointed enough to write about it. Not having worn a hole in a CD dedicated to the musical Wicked, I have no idea what the songs sound like - I've only ever heard the "Glee" version of "Defying Gravity" so I really don't know how closely the musical follows the book, or if it does at all. It would be nice to know.
It really would - but I am not spending another $200+ to find out.
For those of you with aspirations for entertainment, let this be a lesson - MAKE SURE YOUR SOUND IS BALANCED! If you bring one aspect up to drown out another you may well loose your audience.
So...wondering what to do now. Get a primer on what the play is about or forward this blog to Wicked Tour and ask if they wouldn't mind letting me in to a rehearsal so I have somewhat of an idea of what the play is about seeing as their sound board screwed up the experience for me and my husband. Thoughts?
I can't complain too much - the entire weekend was wonderful from not having to worry about child care, where we were eating, what we were eating (see last post for Graffiato experience) and what our afternoon entertainment was. And for good parts of the play today - the sets were amazing, very Steampunkish, the colors were incredible, the costumes a blast! And, from what I could see, the actors owned their parts. Absolutely owned them. Which means that...IT WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT TO HEAR THEM PERFORM THEIR ROLES!
Not going to let that ruin our wonderful weekend.
May you each have an anniversary weekend like ours - beautiful weather, wonderful company and things you like to do together.
Happy Anniversary, honey! :-)