Monday, 31 May 2010

Andy's Trip To Rachel's Birthday Show

First off I'd like to wish Rachel a belated Happy Birthday. I was hoping to get the chance to do it in person but my 'Wicked' curse struck again; read on and you'll know what I mean.

I had been planning another trip to the Appollo Victoria for some time and managed to work it so as I'd be there for Rachel's Birthday. I hadn't booked tickets and I wanted decent seats so I decided I'd try to get there early enough to grab one of the 24 front row seats they release on the day of the show. My alarm woke me at 3:45am and I was on the road by 4:45am. Traffic wasn't a problem at that time at least and I arrived in London, parked up and joined the queue before 7:30am.

There were 23 people in front of me - some of which had camped overnight - and with each queue member allowed to buy 2 tickets I knew it would be touch and go as to whether I'd get a seat for the evening performance.

During my 3 hour wait I chatted to lots of other people in the queue, mainly about 'Wicked' and particularly Rachel. I was delighted but not surprised to hear that almost all of them rated her as the best Elphaba ever. That is high praise indeed coming from die hard fans that have seen the show countless times over the past few years.

Just before the rain started I reach the front of the queue and was pleased to find out that there were still 3 front row seats available for the evening performance. I quickly handed over the cash, tucked my ticket (A34) into my wallet and set off to Oxford Street to buy Rachel a Birthday card.

That proved to be a big mistake. I got absolutely soaked and must have past a hundred shops but not one of them sold cards. I eventually caught a bus to Putney - don't really know why - and managed to find a nice little shop where I found the card I'd been looking for.

That had all taken much longer than expected so it was pretty much time to make my way back to Victoria for the show. When I arrived at the theatre I discovered my 'Wicked' curse had struck again.

As I have probably mentioned before I was a big fan of Dianne Pilkington who was the previous Glinda. However despite numerous attempts I only managed to see her complete 2 shows. I made 6 visits during her last 12 months in the role but didn't have an awful lot of luck:

1st) Dianne blew me away with a stunning performance.
2nd) A girl called Chloe made her only ever appearance as Glinda (She was the second understudy I believe). Not sure why Dianne wasn't on.
3rd) Dianne's I'll and isn't performing (Sarah Earnshaw played Glinda)
4th) I see what I've been told is the only ever Glinda switch in London (Dianne felt I'll during the first half and was replaced by Sarah after 'Popular')
5th) Dianne's on Holiday (Sarah was Glinda again!)
6th) The old casts final show. Thankfully Dianne was there and I was able to see her one last time before she waved goodbye to Oz.

I had also planned to go on 13th Feb 2010 but luckily I managed to find out before I'd purchased my tickets that Dianne was on holiday so I cancelled that trip.

Anyway to cut a long story short - too late for that I know - the first thing I see after entering the theatre on Saturday is a sign saying Sarah Earnshaw will be playing Glinda in tonight’s show. I suppose it's a 'Glinda Curse' as appose to a 'Wicked Curse' really.

As it happens I do love Sarah and although she's not quite as good as Dianne I do prefer her interpretation of Glinda to Louise's so on this occasion I wasn't too upset.

The show itself was sensational as always. I know it's been said but Rachel really was born to play this role. It doesn't matter how many times I go to see her perform I am always blown away by her incredible vocals. Such challenging songs and every one note perfect. As I've mentioned I was lucky enough to be sitting in the front row so I was also able to see every facial expression and I cannot stress enough just how fantastic Rachel's acting is; she doesn't switch off for a single second while she's on stage. She has a very special gift that makes everyone in the audience feel like they're right there in Oz with her.

During the interval I got chatting to one of the friends I'd made in the Queue. He had originally said Rachel comes a close second in his list of favourite Elphaba's but the first thing he said after the curtain came down on Act 1 was "Ok, you're right. Rachel is the best".

The show flew by and afterwards I followed about 40 other people to the stage door. Numerous cast members came and went but after waiting over an hour neither Rachel nor Lee Mead had come out. I knew Rachel had to de-greenify so I was still hopeful but at about 11:30pm a guy came out and said they'd all gone and he locked the stage door. There were about 20 of us left at that point but unfortunately our wait had been in vain on this occasion.

That was a little disappointing as I'd have loved to see Rachel again and I wasn't able to wish her Happy Birthday or give her the card. I know it's very unusual for Rachel not to go to the stage door so I hope this isn’t the start of a new 'Wicked Curse' for the cast of 2010. I'm sure as it was her Birthday she had plans and couldn’t afford to be held up. Hopefully I'll have more luck next time.

A woman who I was standing with at the stage door said she'll be going again next week and that she'd be happy to pass on my card. So although it will be a little late Rachel should eventually get it.

Overall it was an amazing day. There were highs and lows but 2 things never change. Wicked is the best show ever and yet again Rachel lit up the stage – she’s phosphorescent you know - with another unbelievably phenomenal performance.

I can't wait to go again.


Victoria Maginnis said...

That has happened to us before (waiting at SD) as Dianne went out the opposite doors on Vauxhall Bridge Road - but it's sort of understandable when the cast are in a rush. We were told that Dianne was sick, but the next day she told us she had to get a train.
However, glad you enjoyed the show! The day queue is getting busier earlier and earlier! Crazy! Can't wait to get back to London after exams!

David said...

Well done Andy on getting day tickets -- excellent work! Glad you enjoyed the show as always but sorry to hear that Rachel didn't make the stage door. Bit of a shame that but hopefully next time.

Andy said...

Victoria - Yeah, I guess Lee and Rachel must have used the other exit. I meant to try and catch Rachel going in before the matinee show but that went completely out the window as I had a nightmare trying to find a card shop. I think the day queue was partcularly busy as it was a Saturday and also Spring Bank Holiday. Somebody said you can get there at 9:00am and still get front row seats on a week day.

David - I was glad to get those day tickets after getting up at 3:45am. It made for a very long day though, especially after waiting at the stage door until 11:30pm. Hopefully I'll get chance to go to the show again this summer and meet Rachel at the stage door. According to others waiting it's VERY unusual for her not to come out and see the fans so she must have had Birthday plans.

Dan said...

ahhh bless you!!!
i have a wicked curse too!

I've seen the show 4 times now, and Rachel is the first Lead Elphie i've ever seen!

I was gutted not to see Louise and George this time too, but hopefully i'll go again soon and catch all 4 of them (rachel & Lee included)