To preface this statement, I have just returned from seeing "Wicked" in Chicago. I saw the touring cast last summer and I can confidently say that Ana's Elphaba was superb. I thought she was better than Stephanie Block, and I would even venture so far as to say that she was better than I would assume Idina Menzel's performance was (based on the cast recording). Bold words, I know, but she had so much passion and heart that she took Elphaba and made her come alive. Vocally she was incredibly solid and her acting skills astound.
I think that Wicked has to be experienced live. The music is good, but there is so much missing and there is actually a well-thought, interesting story that ties it all together. It's heartbreaking and sweet and funny and beautiful. I am quite sure that if I were staying in Chicago, I would see it at least 5 more times before the run ends (Ticketmaster is selling only through April 30th). But alas, I leave at 6am to fly back to Florida. It's entirely possible that I will have withdrawals from Wicked now that I've fallen in love all over again.
But like I said, I leave in 5 and a half hours, and so I must get to packing. All good things must come to an end.
PS - It's really weird to see someone I went to junior high and high school with (Katie Loprest) onstage. I mean, I've worked with her on shows before...going back to "Annie" in 1997...but that was school. This is professional, and while I'm struggling to decide what to do with my life, she's out in the real world following a dream and getting paid for it. To tell the truth, it creeps me out.