Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Rondi Reed: The Yellow Brick Road From Wicked To August: Osage County

Rondi Reed: The Yellow Brick Road From Wicked To August: Osage County

For those of you whom have wondered aloud about my admitted fixation with the wildly disparate Wicked and August: Osage County, I give you quotes from the Tony-winning actress who successfully straddles and connects the two divergent productions.

In a Chicago Sun-Times story on the close of the Windy City's sitdown staging of Wicked, after its sold-out 1500th performance, Rondi Reed -- the Steppenwolf ensemble member who originated the role of Madame Morrible there, but who is best known to Broadway audiences as Aunt Mattie Fae Aiken in August: Osage County -- had this to say:

Wicked has been unlike anything else I have experienced in my career so far -- one of the best things that ever happened to me.... It is, of course, a project of huge proportions and big budgets. And I learned so much, about so many things, in ways I never dreamed possible. To be a part of that theatrical juggernaut is something that comes along once in a blue moon. I had never done such a long run before, either -- never been asked to be so consistent, so disciplined, have the kind of stamina and heart it takes to play on that level. You are responsible not just to yourself, but to the other 125 people who show up for each performance behind the scenes -- in the orchestra pit, the wardrobe room, the sound board, the management office, the ones pulling the ropes, making it all happen and making it seem like magic in the process.

To the audience -- and odds are there is someone out there who has never seen a live show before -- this is the moment it happens. A husband who said he hated musicals and was dragged along got swept up in the story. Or four generations of one family who came to see the show together for Christmas used it to celebrate their mom's victory over cancer. And oddly enough, doing Wicked in the 2,200-seat Oriental prepared me for August, so that a Broadway theater didn't overwhelm me. It taught me about the size of performance needed to reach the back rows and still maintain integrity.

So for all you naysayers out there, I couldn't be happier that this actor's actor has such affection for Wicked. No wonder she'll be returning to Broadway this spring as Madame Morrible in the tuner that's not only defying gravity, but also defying the odds at the otherwise dismal Great White Way box office (hat tip to Gratuitous Violins).

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 27 January, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

Hey Steve,
Thanks for the hat tip! I was struck, too, by the connection Rondi Reed mentioned between "Wicked" and "August: Osage County." I imagine the theatres at Steppenwolf are quite a bit smaller than the Imperial on Broadway, so I can see where the "Wicked" experience would help.

Of course I share your affection for Ms. Reed and for both of these productions. Thank you for introducing me to all three of them. I would love, absolutely love, to see her in "Wicked" on Broadway!

At 27 January, 2009, Blogger SarahB said...

NAYSAY! But brava for Rondi.

At 27 January, 2009, Blogger Joseph Gomez said...

haha... sarahb makes me laugh.

At 27 January, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, Rondi Reed makes for a thoroughly enjoyable Madame Morrible.

Sarah, you make me laugh.

Joseph, Ditto.

At 28 January, 2009, Anonymous e said...

This is a wonderful perspective. I plan to share this post with my students. Thanks!

At 30 March, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to work with Rondi at Cleveland Playhouse one dismal winter. She's a blast, so proud to see her career burgeoning, at a time when so many actresses are virtually forced to give up their careers. Love her.

At 30 March, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I love her, too. She's a lovely lady.


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