Thursday, December 30, 2010

Elphaba Singer Bios Worldwide for Wicked the Musical in 2010

Summary: Singers playing Elphaba in Wicked the Musical worldwide in 2010 are presented.

"One Short Day" song with Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda (center left) and Mandy Gonzalez as Elphaba (center right), Gershwin Theatre, New York, March 19, 2010: Joan Marcus/Imagine Communications, CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr

In 2010 there are eight venues worldwide for replicated productions of the hit Broadway musical, Wicked, by Stephen Schwartz (born March 6, 1948) and Winnie Holzman (born 1954).
Four venues are in the United States: Broadway; First National Tour; San Francisco, California; Second National Tour. The musical closed in San Francisco on September 5, 2010.
Four venues are outside the United States: Sydney, Australia; London, England; Oberhausen, Germany; Stuttgart, Germany; Osaka, Japan. The musical closed Sept. 26, 2010, in Sydney and Jan. 29, 2010, in Stuttgart.
Described as "the most significant musical of the decade" by Charles Isherwood in The New York Times, global ticket sales exceeded over $1.9 billion by mid-June 2010. The enchanting musical has surpassed box office records everywhere. In the first week of its run in San Francisco in 2009, ticket sales for Wicked grossed $1,459,610.50, thereby breaking the previous record set by The Phantom of the Opera ("Cue the Chorus: The Musical Endures," The New York Times, December 30, 2009; "OMG, New Witches for Wicked! Marcie Dodd and Alli Mauzey to Start June 29th," San Francisco Citizen, June 17, 2010).
Elphaba in the U.S. in 2010
In 2010, there have been eight principal singers in the coveted role of Elphaba in the United States: Jackie Burns, Marcie Dodd, Eden Espinosa, Mandy Gonzalez, Vicki Noon, Dee Roscioli, Donna Vivino and Teal Wicks.
Jackie Burns debuted on the First National Tour on July 8, 2010 at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in Houston, Texas. In her debut, Jackie was joined by Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda and Richard H. Blake as Fiyero. Two months later Jackie received glowing reviews for her performance at the Boston Opera House. Boston Globe reviewer Don Aucoin praised Jackie's performance as easily measuring "broom to broom" with the Tony-winning portrayals by Idina Menzel, who originated the role on Broadway.
Marcie Dodd hails from Yuba City in northern California. Marcie originated the role of Elphaba on the first preview of the Second National Tour on March 7, 2009, at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida. She stayed on the tour until Vicki Noon replaced her on April 6, 2010. Several months later on June 29, 2010, Marcie took over the role from Eden Espinosa at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco and closed the musical's hit run there on Sept. 5, 2010. In San Francisco, Marcie was joined by Alli Mauzey as Glinda and Cliffton Hall as Fiyero.
The commitment of Eden Espinosa to Wicked has been shown throughout the musical's 7-year history. After a break from Wicked throughout most of 2009, Eden returned to the role on June 26, 2010, at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. The Anaheim, California native was joined by Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda and Nicolas Dromard as Fiyero.
On March 23, 2010, Mandy Gonzalez succeeded long-time favorite Dee Roscioli as the captivating Elphaba at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. Mandy was joined on Broadway by Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda and Andy Karl as Fiyero. The Los Angeles native had a dream of performing on Broadway and made her Broadway debut in 2001 as Idina Menzel's standby for the role of Amneris in Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida. In 2003 Mandy became the principal for the role of Amneris. Mandy's path to Elphaba also included noteworthy performances in both the Off-Broadway (2007) and Broadway (2008) productions of In The Heights and in the Off-Broadway musical Eli's Comin, in 2001.
Born in Tucson, Arizona, Vicki Noon grew up Newcastle, Washington (less than 10 miles southeast of Seattle). Vicki's involvement with Wicked dates back to the musical's Chicago production in 2008. On April 6, 2010, Vicki succeeded Marcie Dodd on the Second National Tour, debuting in the lead role for that production at the Stranahan Theater in Toledo, Ohio. Vicki was joined by Natalie Daradich as Glinda and Chris Peluso as Fiyero. Vicki and Natalie both had the lead standby roles of Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, in the original cast of the San Francisco production in 2009.
Dee Roscioli hails from Easton, Pennsylvania. Dee's involvement with Wicked dates back to 2006 in the Chicago production, where she succeeded Kristy Cates as standby when Kristy took over as Elphaba from Ana Gasteyer. Like Vicki Noon, Dee's previous experience included the national tour of Cats. Dee played Grizabella from 2002 to 2003 while Vicki played Demeter in 2005. Dee took over the coveted role of Elphaba on Broadway in 2009 and remained in that role until passing the torch to Mandy Gonzalez on March 23, 2010.
Donna Vivino grew up in Fair Lawn, in northeastern New Jersey. Donna's involvement with Wicked has been exclusively on the First National Tour. Donna secured the role of standby on Oct. 30, 2007. A little over a year later, on Nov. 5, 2008, Donna took over as lead Elphaba. On her website, Donna shared that her pre-show ritual included running for about 90 minutes on a treadmill and then afterwards doing vocal warmups for 30 minutes.
Born in Sacramento, Teal Wicks was blessed to be involved in both of the hugely successful California productions of Wicked. Teal officially started as the standby in Los Angeles on New Year's Day 2008. Teal opened the San Francisco production on Jan. 27, 2009. Apart from a temporary absence for a month and a half, Teal remained in the role until Eden Espinosa took over on March 2, 2010.
By November 2010, Wicked had enchanted Australians for almost two and a half years. First opening in Melbourne on June 27, 2008, the production shifted to Sydney on Sept. 5, 2009. Sept. 26, 2010 was closing night in Sydney. Three singers took their turns shining in the lead role in 2010: Jemma Rix, Pippa Grandison, and Patrice Tipoki.
Born on the Central Coast in the state of New South Wales, Australia, Jemma moved to Osaka, Japan, where she was signed on by Universal Studios Japan in July 2006 to play Elphaba in a non-replicated production of Wicked. Jemma had to learn Japanese because this production is performed mainly in Japanese, although songs such as "Defying Gravity," "Popular," and "Wizard and I" are sung in English. Jemma returned to Australia to serve as standby in the Melbourne production, which previewed on June 27, 2008. Jemma moved from standby to lead on Nov. 5, 2009, in the Sydney production. Jemma closed the Sydney production on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010.
Patrice Tipoki understudied in the Melbourne production from its preview on June 27, 2008, until Zoe Gertz took over on June 17, 2009. From Dec. 17, 2009 until May 23, 2010, Patrice acted as an emergency cover for standby Jennifer DiNoia and lead Jemma Rix. Beginning on May 25, 2010, Patrice shared the lead role with Jemma Rix. Previously Patrice performed from 2006 to 2008 in Girlband, a pop group, with three other members (Renee Armstrong, Renee Bargh, and Jessica Smith). "Party Girl," the band's first single, was released on Oct. 7, 2006. Patrice graduated from Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts.
Born in Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia, Pippa Grandison originally served as a temporary replacement for Amanda Harrison, beginning on Dec. 17, 2009, by sharing the role with Jemma Rix. On Feb. 9, 2010, Pippa officially replaced Amanda, whose illness precluded her return to the role. Pippa and Jemma alternated the lead for the rest of the "ozsome" run of the musical in Sydney. Pippa's previous experience included television, film, and musical theatre.
Wicked has experienced phenomenal success in Australia. After its first month in Sydney, the box office record at the Capitol Theatre was smashed with one week's gross ticket sales of $1,473,775.70. A rarity occurred on May 11, 2010, with the purchase of the millionth ticket, as historically selling over a million tickets is rare in Australian show business. John Frost, Australian co-producer of "Wicked," noted that "Sydney audiences have fallen under the magical spell of WICKED."
Australians now eagerly await the Australian Tour, which previews on Jan. 11, 2011. Jemma Rix is set to reprise the role of Elphaba. She will be joined by Lucy Durack, reprising the role of Glinda from both the Melbourne and Sydney productions.
The first replicated production of Wicked outside of the United States took place in London, England with the first preview on Sept. 7, 2006. Over four years later in 2010, this West End venue continues to attract record audiences and enjoy amazing success.Two singers in the lead role have contributed to this phenomenon: Alexia Khadime and Rachel Tucker.
A native Londoner, Alexia Khadime joined Wicked on June 9, 2008 to replace Kerry Ellis during Kerry's portrayal of Elphaba across the pond on Broadway. Kerry returned to the West End production on December 1, 2008, remaining in the role until Alexia took over again on May 11, 2009. Alexia played Elphaba until Rachel Tucker took over on March 29, 2010. Alexia's previous experience included television and such theatrical productions as The Lion King and Whistle Down the Wind.
After becoming engaged on Valentine's Day, 2008, Rachel Tucker returned to her hometown of Belfast, Northern England, in September 2009 to marry theatre director Guy Retallack in St. Anne's Cathedral. Less than half a year later Rachel secured the lead role of Elphaba on March 29, 2010. Rachel is expected to remain in the role through Dec. 10, 2011. Rachel wet her feet in the musical world by performing at age 15 with her father and her sister in a group called Tucker Kelly and the Kelstar. In 2008 Rachel was one of twelve finalists in the BBC talent show, I'd Do Anything in which Rachel lasted to the semi-finals and was eliminated by English musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber's decision in favor of her competitor, Samantha Barks.
In Germany, the musical is entitled Wicked: Die Hexen Von Oz, which translates as "Wicked: The Witches of Oz."
Elphaba has become the signature role of Willemijan Verkaik, who has led in both productions, first in Stuttgart and now in Oberhausen. Closing night in Stuttgart took place on Jan. 29, 2010. The last three weeks there saw Elphaba in the capable voice of Roberta Valentini, who had been Willemijn's alternate since Nov. 12, 2008. Willemijn's last performance in Stuttgart was on Jan. 6, 2010 as Willemijn was committed to performing in the Best of Musical - Gala 2010 Tour. The successful tour visited Germany's twelve largest cities from January through early March 2010. The tour featured highlights from the most popular musicals performed by the originators of favorite roles in the original musical productions. In addition to Wicked: The Witches of Oz, highlights were included from such other hits as Tarzan, Ich War Noch Niemals in New York ("I've Never Been to New York"), and Der König der Löwen ("The Lion King").
Born in Son en Breugel in the southern Netherlands, Willemijn grew up in nearby Nuenen, which is famous for Vincent Van Gogh's two year residence there from 1883 to 1885. Willemijn attended the famed Rotterdam Conservatory (Rotterdams Conservatorium) in the western Netherlands.
Roberta was born in the south central German city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg). Founded in the eleventh century, Nuremburg has a long history of contributions not only to music but also to astronomy, printing, and publishing. Nuremburg has been famous since the middle ages for its master singers (Minnesänger) which emerged as a highly regarded guild, the Master Singers (Meistersinger), in the Renaissance. Roberta's devotion to German musical theatre certainly upholds this tradition of master singing.
The lively city of Oberhausen in northwestern Germany serves as an enthusiastic venue for the musical. On a separate diversionary note of interest, Oberhausen was the home of Paul the Octopus in the city's Sea Life Centre. Paul achieved international fame for accurate predictions of Germany's match outcomes in the 2010 World Cup and of the final Cup winning team, Spain. Paul's predictions were determined according to his selection of his favorite food, mussels, from a choice of two boxes distinguished by flags for upcoming match contenders. For the final match on July 11, 2010, Paul ate from the Spanish flag box before the Dutch flag box. Paul retired from predicting on July 12 and for the next three and a half months enchanted visitors of all ages with his easygoing, intelligent disposition. Paul passed away recently on October 26, and his cremated remains were buried at the Centre.
Just as cosmopolitan Oberhausen has taken to a green, misunderstood and reviled girl, the city also opened its heart to a lovable octopus which demonstrated with great dignity and charm that beauty takes many forms in this amazing world and that in some instances a seemingly gangly, rather scary and slimy appearance may easily be viewed completely differently from the positive perspective of familiarity and understanding.
Wicked has enjoyed incredible success in Japan, where replicated and non-replicated productions are showcased.
The current venue in Osaka continues the wave of popularity that began with the first Japanese venture in Tokyo in 2007.
Ebata Masae closed the Tokyo run Sept. 6, 2009. A little over a month later, on October 9, 2009, she opened in Osaka. In 2010 Chiaki Kimura succeeded Ebata Masae in the role.
Information on Wicked in Japan is rather difficult to locate. Specific information on cast replacement history is elusive. Nevertheless, Wicked fans may rest assured that the musical has been enthusiastically embraced by the land of the rising sun.

Donna Vivino appeared as the 1st U.S. National Tour's (Emerald City) Elphaba from November 2008 to July 2010; photo by Manhattan-based theatrical photographer Joan Marcus: Wicked the Musical @Wickedthemusical via Facebook June 18, 2009

My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Wicked the Musical performance, March 19, 2010: Joan Marcus/Imagine Communications, CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr @
Donna Vivino appeared as the 1st U.S. National Tour's (Emerald City) Elphaba from November 2008 to July 2010; photo by Manhattan-based theatrical photographer Joan Marcus: Wicked the Musical @Wickedthemusical via Facebook June 18, 2009, @

For further information:
Aucoin, Don. "'Wicked' tough to beat, as is its star." > A&E > Theater > Arts. Sept. 4, 2010.
Available @
"Donna Vivino: FAQs." Donna Vivino.
Available @
Marriner, Derdriu. "Wicked 2010 Elphaba Singers: US, Australia, England, Germany, Japan." Earth and Space News. Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010.
Available @
Something Wicked Is Coming. "Cast of Characters - Wicked (2010)." YouTube. Sept. 22, 2009.
Available @
"Wicked Celebrates One Year In Sydney." Wicked the Musical > News. Sept. 6, 2010.
Available @
Wicked The Musical @Wickedthemusical. "Donna Vivino as Elphaba." Facebook. June 18, 2009.
Available @

Cast lists:
"Wicked Cast Lists." The Wonderful Wiki of Oz.
Available @
Wicked The Musical. Official website.
Available @

Copyright Monday, Sept. 27, 2010, by Derdriu Marriner

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