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I’ve been a huge fan of Wicked ever since I birthed my inner musical theatre lover when I was around 12 years old. I’d listen to the original Broadway cast recording on my old iPod to and from school, and I quickly memorized every note, every inflection, every lyric from the beautiful score.
In fact, I recently saw the touring production of Wicked when it came to Toronto in July. Mary Kate Morrissey, Ginna Claire Mason, and the rest of the company put on an incredible show—I got to appreciate the show in a whole new way, and my mother didn’t fall asleep in the middle of the show! (She fell asleep during Chicago. Twice. I know, how did I even come from her??)
With all this background, I knew how tough it was to perform the role of Elphaba at all, let alone eight shows a week. Yet I never really understood what it was like to put yourself through that kind of special hell.
That is, until I read Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci.
I was browsing the BroadwayWorld forums the other day and saw a poster mention that a former Elphaba standby wrote a memoir about her experiences. So I hopped onto Amazon, purchased the ebook, and began to read immediately.
The world of a standby has always intrigued me—do they just sit backstage all green and costumed every night just in case they’re called on mid-show? I mean, it does seem like a waste of green paint . . .
Felicia detailed her entire Wicked journey, from her first audition as an ensemble member/understudy to the San Francisco company’s closing performance several months later. She gave an inside look at how Wicked functions as a worldwide phenomenon, and how it operated at the company level. Ever wanted a backstage tour of a Wicked theatre? She gave you a hilarious one in this book.
But this memoir wasn’t just a fascinating look at the life of an Elphaba standby—it was a deeply personal look at the post-grad existence, something I know all too well.
Just like Felicia didn’t know what she was going to do post-grad (and post-Wicked), I had no idea what I was gonna do after school. I knew I didn’t want to be a beat reporter like so many of my friends were—I love journalism, but traditional reporting just wasn’t for me.
But now—also like Felicia—I’m carving out an amazing career while still doing a lot of what I learned in journalism school. It may not be traditional, but it works for me and I’m happy. And really, that’s all that matters.
Felicia’s memoir gives you an inside look in one of the biggest musical phenomena to hit Broadway, and it gives you a lot of life lessons along the way. Any theatre lover or post-grad will get something out of this.