Wicked: The Musical is based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It’s an awesome back-story on the classic fantasy tale, The Wizard of Oz. I’d always wanted to see the musical but just never got around to it until recently. It was amazing! I read the book a few years ago and enjoyed it, but nothing prepared me for how funny and entertaining the musical was going to be.
Wicked tells the story of how Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West, came to be – her birth, her school years, being roommates with the good witch, Glinda, at Shiz University, and how they both ended up in Oz. If you know anything about the book, you’ll know that it is an incredibly insightful story about politics and greed and clever machinations, and how environment can shape the purest intentions into something else entirely. It’s a classic story of “beauty and the beast” – why is the beauty automatically good while the beast is automatically evil? Does being different make someone a bad person? Can someone who is intrinsically good become evil due to influences outside of their control? Can you be forced to be something because of how you look or how you are perceived? In Wicked, the answer to the last three is yes, and the moral of the story is the classic – don’t judge a book by its cover.
I absolutely loved both girls in Wicked: The Musical. Glinda was charming, feather-headed, vapid, and over-excited about everything. She was hysterical – trying to teach “Elphie” how to do her signature hair toss. Lean back and toss toss! Hilarious! You couldn’t help not like Glinda despite her flaws, and you kept hoping that she would come through for her friend, Elphaba, despite the social pressure. She does in the end, but it’s too late…their fates are all sealed.
Elphaba was magnificent, trying to be so good and just getting the short end of the stick every time. All she wanted to do was to fit in, be loved, and prove to her family that she was worth something. It’s so interesting to see how someone can be shaped into something when they become cornered and have nowhere else to go (if you corner a cat, it’s going to scratch you). She has some funny moments too – her love/hate relationship with Glinda, trying to be more popular like Glinda, and falling in love (um, with Glinda’s boyfriend). I really connected with her and when she sang “Defying Gravity” I got goosebumps. It was heartbreaking to see her lose everything (her love, her integrity, her life) when she’d had so little to begin with. Whoever thought you’d empathize with the “wicked” witch who turned out to be not so wicked after all? Just goes to show – you can’t possibly know what makes someone they way they are.
I love how you learn the back-stories of the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow, as well as the back-story of how the infamous jeweled shoes came to be before Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. After Elphaba tries to help her disabled sister walk by creating the magic shoes, there’s her classic line, “Oh, the injustice of it! What sort of person steals a dead woman’s shoes?” Gives a new take on Dorothy, doesn’t it?
I LOVED this musical and would see it again in a heartbeat. I would rate Wicked 4 and a half stars, it’s one of the best I’ve seen on Broadway (the half star deduction is for the male lead – he was completely overshadowed both in voice and stage presence by the strength of the two female leads, and he seemed way too Disney-prince-ish for the role). Other than that, it was wicked awesome!