Music

Touring ‘Wicked’ scores on, off stage

By Phillip Rapa ’14
THE BRONCO BEAT

It is rare that one gets a chance to go behind-the-scenes at the Gammage Theater, and I was incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.

Just recently, the Broadway musical Wicked traveled through Phoenix, and I had the privilege to sit in the pit orchestra to observe the musicians as well as see the stage from the best seat in the house. My piano instructor, Dr. Andria Fennig, plays keyboard in the pit orchestra, so I got a free one-way ticket to join the professional musicians and observe “Keyboard 1,” the most intense and comprehensive piano part in the show.

Equipped with my own headphones to enjoy the orchestra, I listened closely to the musical score and, at times, stood up to observe the show from my special seat, closer than anyone in the audience.

Having played keyboard in Brophy’s own pit orchestra for the drama department’s rendition of Hairspray last spring, I had some experience with the rigors of pit orchestra — the music for Hairspray was intense.

But that music did not even compare to the notes that danced across the page on “Wicked’s” Keyboard 1. Following the music measure by measure was hard enough, let alone following the pianist’s fingers as they bounced from key to key with astounding finesse.

Not only was the music phenomenal (Stephen Schwartz is a genius), but the show itself is also great.

There was a moment towards the end of Act Two where, looking up at the stage from the pit, I caught the eye of one of the leads, and it was one of the most terrifying and awesome experiences of my life.

The acting really connected me to the characters. Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, was superb.

I do not want to give away anything about the production, but I would definitely recommend it to viewers of all ages.

Being so close to the production made it clear to me that touring theatre is truly something magnificent that everyone should experience.

As the actors say, “props” to the cast and crew of the production; it was a job very well done.