January 26, 2012

Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci

With the astronomical success of Wicked in the past eight years, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been an “Elphaba memoir”. In fact, I don’t know of any Wicked cast member who has written an account of their Wicked experience. Original G(a)linda, Kristin Chenoweth, briefly recounted Wicked in her memoir, but Wicked was not the focus. I would say that it’s about time someone wrote a complete account of the Wicked experience- from auditioning to costume fittings to rehearsals to first performance to closing night.  And finally, someone has- Felicia Ricci... and she doesn’t disappoint. 
Felicia Ricci was an Elphaba standby in the San Francisco production of Wicked in 2010. Her memoir, Unnaturally Green, tells not only of her Wicked journey, but also of her fear of failing as a new actress, overcoming personal challenges, coping with loss, and learning life’s lessons (sometimes the hard way)... or as she puts it, “ one girl’s journey along a yellow brick road less traveled”. This memoir does not disappoint the true Wicked fan; however, the reader does not need to be a Wicked fan to enjoy this book. In fact, Felicia does a great job of relating to all readers as she acknowledges the struggles that we all face, whether we work in the theatre or not. 
Unnaturally Green is smartly written; it is no surprise that Felicia was an English major. Felicia is endearing with her quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor. There are many “laugh out loud” moments. For Wicked fans, her description of her first ‘Defying Gravity’ performance is hysterical (for the reader, not for her at the time). I also found her description of bodily functions to be hilarious (i.e. the Week I Didn’t Poop, sweaty armpits). She tends to say the things that we all think but are afraid to say out loud. She writes honestly and comes across as the type of normal, down-to-earth person any of us could have for a friend. She wasn’t afraid to admit how hard she had to work to play Elphaba and conquer the “Songs of Death”. 
After her first performance as Elphaba, it wasn’t long before someone posted a bootleg video of her “Defying Gravity” performance. I loved reading her account of watching herself on YouTube. I think it must be hard for performers to watch their performances on the Internet- and worse, to read unjustified negative comments. Is it really fair to the performer to be recorded on low-quality cameras that distort sound or when they are sick or having an off night? You can’t judge a performance by a YouTube video and no YouTube video could ever compare to a live performance. 
As Felicia continues in “Life Lessons 101”, it will be interesting to see what path she will take and if she will return to the stage.  And will there be a second book........? 

People who would appreciate this book:
A must-read for Wicked fans (duh)
Young adults who are just getting started in the world
Anyone who feels “green” (look it up in the dictionary)


  1. so wanna read this!!! maybe its on kindle :) Seeing Wicked in England spawned a debate...Ray thinks Elphaba wests green "sleeves" on her arms,like tat sleeves. I say its paint. You are the Wicked guru, who is right? lol

  2. I think you're both right. Painted hands, arm sleeves. If you love Wicked, this is a must-read. It's really well-written.

  3. It is indeed available on Kindle, as well as iBooks. And it's as great as this review says.