Thursday, July 20, 2006

Julia Murney: Worth the "Waiting"

Julia Murney: Worth the "Waiting"

There have been many Elphabas filling the cape and pointy hat -- first donned by Tony Award-winning actress Idina Menzel -- in the three current incarnations of Wicked (Broadway, Chicago and the touring production), but few have the angular look and solid Margaret Hamiltonesque-delivery that Julia Murney imbues into the lead role touring the country.

I confess that I've now seen Wicked nine times, including with such wonderful Elphabas as Menzel, Stephanie J. Block, Ana Gasteyer and Kristy Cates, among others, and I loved them all. But just when you think you have Elphaba all figured out, along comes Murney with a fresh interpretation.

In fact, when I saw Wicked yet again last evening in Minneapolis, I was also delighted by Kirk McDonald's take on Boq. For the first time, I saw an actor fully realize the comic potential of this Munchkin character with the forlorn crush on Glinda. Additionally, I was thrilled to see K. Todd Freeman (a Steppenwolf ensemble member who directed last year's amazing revival of "MASTER HAROLD"...And The Boys) more than ably fill the hooves of Dr. Dillamond.

After the performance, I attended a benefit for the Hennepin Theatre Trust where many of the actors mingled with the public. Murney, McDonald and Freeman were all there adding to the buzz of the evening. Murney was particularly gracious and wickedly funny in talking to well-wishers, posing for photographs and signing everything from programs to bottles of "green elixir" (I believe it was actually some lime soda); she also signed her latest CD -- pictured above -- for Peter Rothstein, the creative driving force behind Minneapolis' celebrated Theater Latté Da.

Although I had previously met Freeman prior to a performance of "MASTER HAROLD" at Steppenwolf last fall (he was quite serious upon that meeting where he discussed the play's Apartheid-era subject matter), he was very charming and amiable in last night's decidedly more relaxed atmosphere.

As for Murney's music, well, I'm not waiting any longer. I'm off right now to purchase her CD for myself.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for Wicked tour tickets.
Related Stories:
Five Times More Wicked (July 17, 2006)
Rejoicify and Festivate! Chicago's Wicked Celebrates First Anniversary (June 16, 2006)
Wicked Becomes Broadway's 8th Overall Cumulative Grosser Among Current Hits (June 2, 2006)
Flashback: Best of 2003-04 (May 25, 2006)
Approaching One Year, Chicago's Wicked Continues to Captivate (May 23, 2006)
Wicked's West End Witches Update (May 17, 2006)
Worldwide Wicked Casting News (May 5, 2006)
Encore: Spotlight Week Ending April 30, 2006 (April 30, 2006)

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At 21 July, 2006, Blogger BroadwayBaby said...

K. Todd Freeman is AMAZING. I had first seen him in 2001 in his Tony-nominated turn in "Song of Jacob Zulu", playing a South African ANC guerrilla. I had no idea that he can sing as well...

At 21 July, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Yes, K. Todd Freeman is indeed an amazing talent and best known for his dramatic turns.

In addition to his Tony-nominated role in "Song of Jacob Zulu," he was also on Broadway in "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest" -- my first chance to see him back in 2001 -- as Dr. Spivey alongside other Steppenwolf ensemble members including Gary Sinese and Amy Morton.

The other night, Freeman told me he was originally cast as The Doctor in Steppenwolf's current production of "The Untouchables" -- a role that ultimately went to the wonderful Kenn E. Head, but one that Freeman would have been every bit as terrific -- but the "Wicked" role took him away.

At 22 July, 2006, Blogger StephenMosher said...

Julia Murney is a GODDESS. I have loved her since I first saw her in Andrew Lippa's THE WILD PARTY--which remains one of the all time greatest theatrical experiences of my lifetime. The woman is the next big thing; but it hasn't happened yet. She can do no wrong, as an artist. Thank God she walked away from so many of the Broadway-bound projects from which she did walk; I was sad to see her underused in LENNON (I didn't like the show, either) but I would give my eye teeth to see her as Elphaba.

I was given a video (bootleg--not supposed to have) of the FUNNY GIRL concert where she sang PEOPLE like it has never been sung before. A Streisand fan since the age of five (YEAH, they say we choose to be gay--I say I just proved we are BORN gay), I never want to hear anyone except Babs (and Mimi Hines, frankly) sing PEOPLE. Watching the scene before the song and watching/hearing this extraordinary woman do this bit in the concert, DEVASTATES me every time I see it.

I gotta get that cd!

At 22 July, 2006, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I had a chance to ask Julia Murney about Lennon, saying I was sorry I didn't have a chance to see her in it. She replied, "No one did." She also had some delicious things to say about a certain widowed Beatle that I won't repeat here.

Thankfully in a show like Wicked, she's having the opportunity to make many, many fans across the country, and that bodes well for her future on Broadway.


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