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Unnaturally Green by Felicia Ricci This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Green. Green narrator, green character, green story. That's it. That's the book.

Green.

Felicia would be proud. I understood her message.

In 2010, amateur musical theater actress Felicia Ricci, with no professional training whatsoever, was cast as a standby in the San Francisco company of the hit Broadway musical Wicked for the quirky, misunderstood, and yes, unnaturally green Elphaba Thropp. With a long line of frankly “unearthly” talented actresses previously sharing the role with Felicia, including the company's lead Elphaba, Eden Espinosa, Felicia had a huge title to live up to. Actresses such as Idina Menzel, who was the original Elphaba on Broadway in 2003, Stephanie J. Block, Teal Wicks, and Shoshana Bean had all set an almost impossible bar for any incoming green actress. (GREEN: not fully developed or perfected in growth or condition; unripe; not properly aged: a green actress.) Eden Espinosa especially was an almost goddess-like actress/singer to follow due to her ability to, as they say in the theater world, "belt her face." Talk about trying not to be a disappointment.

Still, Felicia had talent. All she had to do was believe in herself and try defying gravity.

A nonfiction book has never made me laugh as hard as I did reading Unnaturally Green. Not only is it jam-packed with comedy, Felicia Ricci explores a few life struggles that many readers can relate to. Of course, not many have the privilege of telling people that they were Elphaba, the one and only “Wicked Witch of the West,” on Broadway, but most know the feeling of not being good enough and the fear of failing. For those who know the musical Wicked, you're aware of how difficult playing the role of Elphaba is. Her songs are known as, "The Songs of Death," and if they're not sung correctly, the whole performance is like a live Britney Spears concert. Felicia hilariously describes her struggle to tackle "The Songs of Death" and deal with the people who tried to bring her down. A few other things that will make you an automatic fan are her hysterical descriptions of San Francisco denizens, her "Gentle Rambo" boyfriend whom she also often refers to as "Teenage Hercules," her Dating History Museum, and "greenifying" process.

Any reader, whether a Wicked fan, theater enthusiast, or not, will find every single page of Unnaturally Green laugh-out-loud funny. "Every single page" is just barely an exaggeration. Felicia's writing style is quirky, just like Elphaba, and up front, almost as if she's talking with you face-to-face like she's known you for years. One of my personal favorite quotes is, "As if by magic, the woman called Eden Espinosa was in our mortal midst. Forget the president- she was an Olympian goddess, greeting and walking among the Athenian citizens. That's right: Eden Espinosa. At board game night. Theater dorks everywhere were peeing their high-waisted tights" (Unnaturally Green pg. 140). Though some snippets may be a tad bit...personal (i.e. "The Week I Didn't Poop), even those parts will have you gasping for air and cheering for Felicia. Every chapter is a new misadventure or behind the scenes Wicked tale, and every one leading up to Felicia discovering what it means to be green.



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