I first watched Wicked over a decade ago and the songs and story have long stayed with me; such is the talent of Stephen Schwartz. His expertise in lyricism and music composition is admirable and through my recent role of Musical Director for Adelaide Youth Theatre’s production of Wicked, I was able to dissect and analyse this masterpiece.
It was my second production as MD for AYT this year and the complexity and challenges that this work presented were far greater than that of Shrek the Musical.
With the two lead roles as vocally and emotionally demanding as they are, the initial challenge was casting. The production team and I ‘rejoicified’ when we were able to find two terrific casts for this show. The auditions took place in May and the actors have been rehearsing every Sunday evening since early August.
The Wicked orchestra was my next challenge as it required 17 proficient musicians who needed to be technically competent, but likewise expressive and nuanced for the many underscored sections. I couldn’t be happier with the quality of talent that I shared the orchestra pit with during the December season.
I would particularly like to commend my Assistant Musical Director and Repetiteur Jesse Budel for his diligence, Paul Sinksinson my principal keyboardist who so kindly shared his expertise with regards to conducting the show, and to Jakub Gaudasinski, my percussionist and life partner whose encouragement and unconditional love has given me strength through every trial. Without these talented souls, I wouldn’t have achieved any of it.
Conducting the show was the main challenge. Was I terrified? Absolutely. But I was equally capable. I guess we never really know what we are made of until we take on the heaviest responsibility that we can. For me, during the month of December, it was this show. And as the wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt rang in my ears telling me to keep doing things that scare me in life, the burden seemed lighter with each passing day. I began to embrace and enjoy my unique perspective from the podium; that was one seat in the theatre that money couldn’t buy.
Last Sunday 23rd December, the season ended and with heavy-hearted jubilation I bid farewell to this show. The performances received standing ovations and rave reviews, and the performers exceeded my expectations. Youth theatre in Adelaide is of a sensational standard and I feel ever so thankful to have been entrusted with the baton to conduct these performances.
Thank you to Emma Riggs and Kerreane Sarti of Adelaide Youth Theatre for providing such a valuable platform for performers to collaborate and create. What you both do for performing arts education is invaluable.
To my colleagues on the production team: Ray, Chad, Shenayde, Thomas, Jesse, and Nadine. We did it! Your vision for this show has been nothing short of inspiring and I have loved working with you all.
For every young performer who has shone in Wicked, thank you for your dedicated portrayals and commitment to your characters. It has been a true joy to witness your growth from auditions through to closing night. That’s where the real magic is.