Sunday, September 03, 2006

There's no place like... Chicago

Since I last blogged (quick check to see when that was), I've been busy reading (Jose Saramago's The Double - love his work!, Zadie Smith's On Beauty and Near A Thousand Tables by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. All delightful delightful books. And since watching American Splendor, I had to go find out what Harvey Pekar's graphic novels look like. It's not too bad and I find it rather fascinating the different ways artists draw him (he only writes the stories, he doesn't draw).

I have also been attempting to watch more of House as the new season premieres on Fox on Tuesday but often get sidetracked by TLC's What Not To Wear and Take Home Chef and some reruns of Gilmore Girls plus I found Italian For Beginners, Howl's Moving Castle and gasp! Sixteen Candles at the Champaign library. Although technically we're now in Urbana, (and the Urbana library has a really much bigger media section, DVDs can only be borrowed for TWO DAYS), so we've been hitting the Champaign one, where parking is free.

And yesterday, we went up to Chicago (stopping for a pack of chips and a mocha frappucino along the way) to see Wicked at the Oriental, a really gorgeous old theatre on Randolph.

We're off to see the

at the Oriental on a beautiful sunny day

Inside the lobby

Coming from a place like Singapore where even water seems to be frowned on inside the theatres, I was intrigued to notice that the staff walking up the aisles selling drinks and snacks. Perhaps unlike Singaporeans, Americans know how to be civic-minded and can clean up after themselves, says R, who is lying next to me, reading over my shoulder.

Before going to see the musical, I made sure to read the book again. And thus was noting the many differences between the two.

I suppose the musical, being a musical, and wanting to attract families and children, has to be friendly, family-oriented...feel good.

The book however, can't exactly be described that way.

So the main character, Elphaba, was far more spritely and less sullen than in the book. And Galinda (or Glinda as she is later known) features far more prominently, and actually really stole the show with her flighty, self-absorbed, thoroughly entertaining Reese Witherspoon-likeness. She was definitely the best part of the show.

The music was alright, not too bad, but nothing terribly momentous. I did love the costumes and the set. The costume designer seemed to want to make sure that every piece was different, even those on the ensemble cast. There was a great use of colours, especially on the Emerald City ensemble, which seemed to utilise almost every shade of green. There was always something to look at.

I must say that I wasn't too thrilled the way the story line was altered. Perhaps if I'd seen the musical first before reading the book, things might've been different.

However, it was still a lovely time in Chicago - it's always nice to walk down streets lined with skyscrapers again. We hit up Ethel's for another heavenly hot cocoa and after the show, we had some tender hickory smoked chicken, cheese fries and caesar salad at this bar and grill on one of the streets intersecting the Magnificent Mile.

And then after, a drive down Lake Shore Drive and it was off into the night, back to Urbana.

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