On the eve of Monday March 2, the citizens of Oz descended upon the Ferst Center for their night off. Out of their iconic green costumes and make-up, the cast of Wicked hosted a cabaret-style show featuring a wide variety of non-Ozian music and dance numbers.
Even before the show started, the atmosphere in Ferst was extremely boisterous. Perhaps it was excitment from the Broadway fanatics over the anticipation of seeing Tony and Grammy award winner Jennifer Holliday perform, but it was probably the alcohol that was available for an additional $20. By the start of the actual performaces, the majority of the adult audience were quite merry.
Alcohol was not the only add-on option for sale prior to and during the performances. The event also provided the opportunity for attendees to purchase some discounted official Wicked merchandise as well as bid on silent and live auction items. The silent auction catalog included a basket of retired Ozian costumes and an official Wicked poster signed by the current touring cast. More on the live auction prizes later. All the proceeds from Witches’ Night Off will benefit both Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and Joining Hearts, Inc. of Atlanta.
The fun, light atmosphere continued with the start of the performances. The first song was The Supremes’ “Up the Ladder to the Roof,” and was the first of many favorites adored by the audience. With the high energy dancing and the belted tones, this number had the audience cheering.
In this casual setting, the cast were able to show off their personalities unique from their in-show characters. Lee Slobotkin and Liana Hunt performed a mash-up of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” and “Never Never Land” from “Peter Pan.” “I Will Survive” was sang in a doo-wop style, much to the audience’s delight. Perhaps the most personable performance was by Kristine Zbornik, who contrasted the more stern Madame Morrible that she usually plays, with poop jokes and by munching on a bag of chips while she sang.
The favorite songs of the night outside of Jennifer Holliday’s performance were probably related to where this performance was being hosted. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Midnight Train to Georgia” invoked more hooting and hollering than any of the other performances, which is an interesting result for a group who’s favorites usually involve showtunes and diva songs. The former number involved lively fiddling and became a singular performance as it combined the country style with lyrical dancing. The latter featured Tech’s own Infinite Harmony alongside the three Elphabas from the current tour.
Peppered throughout the performance was the live auction. It was hosted by Carrie St. Louis, also known as Glinda, and one of the company’s stage managers. The prizes, including the oppurtunity for a walk-on role and a trip to New York to see Boardway Bares, all went for several thousand dollars each, which was mind boggling for the Tech students in the audience, especially when one of the prizes went for more than a semseter’s worth of in-state tution.
Jennifer Holliday, who had the penultimate performance, unsurprisingly stole the show, singing numbers from the role she won her Tony for, “Dreamgirls.” This showstopping lengend brought down the house and concluded a wonderful show night at Ferst.