One girl’s journey along a yellow brick road less travelled
Most theatre fans would be lying if they told you they had never encountered the musicalWicked. I, like thousands of other theatre-goers, have dedicated plenty of time to this multi-award winning musical over the years. For months my bedroom walls were dominated byWicked posters, Wicked flyers, Wicked calendars and Wicked performers. I purchased a countless number of Wicked memorabilia from bracelets to necklaces and from snowglobes to grimmeries. One book that I purchased at the height of my Wicked fad (but never managed to read) was Felicia Ricci’s memoir ‘Unnaturally Green.’ A few years later and I have finally decided to read this memoir, an entertaining and truthful account of Ricci’s experiences as she understudied the lead character of Elphaba in Wicked‘s San Francisco company back in 2010. Although my Wicked fad is firmly in the past, this book provided a wonderful (cue for a song) insight to the magical world of Oz through the eyes of a rising professional who was clearly as mesmerised by the show as the dedicated fans who return to see productions of Wicked over and over again.
Armed with a degree in English, Ricci clearly knew what she was doing as she sat down to reminice about the days she wandered the streets of San Francisco with green paint emerging behind her ears. Ricci’s personality and the characters she interacts with quickly jump off the page and come to life in front of the reader’s astonished eyes as she writes with an intimacy that will make you believe each word was written only for you, a personal collection of entertaining and often touching anecdotes of Ricci’s adventures from her first audition for “ensemble/Elphaba understudy,” her quick journey to a job promotion as “standby Elphaba” to Eden Espinosa and later Marcie Dodd to the closing of the San Francisco production of Wicked on 5th September 2010. Not only does Ricci truthfully recall her trials and tribulations as she fought to secure her place in Wicked, she also details her personal struggles against the demons she faced who were, quite honestly, bringing her down (or “bring maaaaa naaaaa” – Ricci claims this is the easiest way to belt those famous final notes) and continuously forcing her to reconsider her ability to perform the role of her dreams for thousands of eager fans.
With an encouraging fitness model boyfriend by her side and her family routing for her all the way, Felicia performed as Elphaba over forty times in the San Francisco production of Wicked, jumping many hurdles, accomplishing many goals, brushing shoulders with familiar Broadway names and making a name for herself all at the same time. Injecting charm, wit, humour and honesty into her writing, Ricci makes Unnaturally Green a fantastic read that you won’t want to put down – indeed once I had finished reading I found myself missing my new friend Felicia and her amusing tales of defying gravity above a darkened theatre full of adoring fans.
If you are a fan of Wicked or merely a fan of theatre in general, this memoir will give you a sneaky glance down the yellow brick road less travelled and a touching tale of a city girl whose dreams came true.