Thursday, November 01, 2007

Hurrah for the Underdog

Last night I went to see Wicked for the third time - a Halloween outing organised by the lovely Neel, and a (very) belated birthday treat from me to Jo. I shall refrain from waxing lyrical about the show itself, as I have already blogged about it excessively, but I wanted to give well-deserved a nod to Cassidy Janson - the current Elphaba understudy - who was standing in for Kerry Ellis last night. Much of the cast has changed since Wicked opened in the West End just over a year ago, when the awesome Idina Menzel stole the show in the leading role. I was delighted to witness in Janson much that was lacking from (Menzel's successor) Ellis's execution of this intimidatingly demanding part - most notably a refreshing humility which suited the underdog nature of the role. Ellis had seemed too self-consciously starry when I saw her earlier this year, and also irritated the hell out of me with her grating Americanisation of the songs. Janson managed to avoid this trap, into which many British performers seem to fall these days - for which she scores huge brownie points in my critical eyes. Her diminuitve physical presence was more than made up for by a natural stage-presence that brought the necessary weight to the complex character of the wicked (or is she?) witch. So, hurrah for the underdog... or in this case, the understudy!

Cassidy Janson singing No Good Deed from Wicked
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