Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Thoughts - Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci

Unnaturally Green: One Girl's Journey Along a Yellow Brick Road Less Traveled by Felicia Ricci
published 2011
274 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Ever wonder what it's like to perform in a megahit musical (when you have little idea what you're doing)? From her audition to closing night -- to every moment in between -- Felicia takes you behind the scenes of her first professional show (ever!) as she understudies the lead character of Elphaba in Wicked's San Francisco company.

As she leaps professional hurdles, she faces personal challenges as well: falling in love after heartbreak (with a spatula-wielding muscle hunk), living far away from home (in the worst neighborhood of all time), confronting her overachiever demons (and an all-consuming fear of failure), and learning, time and again, what it means to be green.

Hop into the mind of a total newbie as she gazes at professional theater's Man Behind the Curtain, in all his naked glory. Who could look away?

My thoughts:

I had a sneaking suspicion Felicia Ricci and I were going to get along fairly early on in her memoir - she's funny, self-deprecating, and feels like the kind of girl I'd like to hang out with. And then I got to page 57, and this quote:

"I cranked the music louder to drown out my thoughts, but did so at the most inconvenient of moments, just as Alanis Morrisette wailed about rain on my wedding day, which was tragic for obvious reasons, but also for the fact that she was incorrectly illustrating the concept of irony." (p. 57-58)

And YES! My husband and I have been saying that for years, so to find someone so completely random who gets it too - I understand that this has basically nothing to do with the story of a girl who got to be the Elphaba understudy, but it illustrates how quickly and completely I felt a kinship to this woman whose life, really, couldn't be more different than mine.

I came to love musical theater early, when I was a young teen and my mom took me with her to help backstage in the local community theater production of "Camelot". It seemed such a magical place, and the people who got to be a part of it every day the luckiest of people - so Ricci's awe and excitement at finding herself suddenly chosen to join that elite community were understandable.

 Ricci doesn't hide much from her readers - we get to see the fun and glamour, as well as the boredom, sweat, and tears. I hadn't thought about how much time an understudy would spend doing....nothing, and how difficult that could be. She relates her moments of triumph, and the times when she, quite literally, almost falls flat on her face. She is brutally honest about her personal life, as well, and seeing the two aspects of her life grow together makes for quite an interesting read.

Her style is informal - starting out as a blogger seems to have influenced the way she writes, and it worked for me. She tells the reader early on that this is HER memoir, and she'll write what she wants - and that attitude is evident throughout. I laughed, I rooted for her, I looked her up on YouTube - I was thoroughly engaged with this young woman from beginning to end.

I enjoyed this book very much. If you are a fan of musical theater, and of Wicked especially, I highly recommend it. It's a glimpse of the world behind the curtain, and it's fascinating and fun.

Finished: 12/18/11
Source: review copy from the author - thank you!
MPAA rating: PG-13 for language and adult situations
My rating: 8/10