Usually, if someone asks me if I’m going to see a Broadway show, my reply might be, “When monkeys fly.” Well, this time, they did. And like the other Broadway shows I’ve been to (not all that many mind you) I walked out impressed and very happy I went. Thursday night was no different.
It was the opening night of the smash hit Wicked at the Peace Center. Chalk up another win for the Peace Center to get me to go to a Broadway Show and walk out loving it. They never let me down with their choice of shows.
For those who have not seen it in theaters, the question remains as to whether the play is indeed as charming as it is said to be. Is it truly the smash hit everyone’s raving about? I went to find out, and left the show saying, “Yup, I guess it is.”
The audience, while ranging from all ages, is a good half made up of young women who can belt out half of the songs they’ve memorized by heart within the time it takes to give a flick of the wand. Granted, there were a lot of adults – men included – that did just the same. The play’s youthful audience, however, doesn’t taint the production in the slightest of ways; Wicked is a clever and energetic production with a lovingly dry delivery on its satirical content.
Prior to viewing the musical, I had only heard vague details about Wicked. Probably the same as most people. Not to mention that I had never read Maguire’s books, nor am I likely to. I was under the impression that the play would chronicle the life of the Wicked Witch of the West, and would end just before the events of L. Frank Baum’s story picked up.
Much to my surprise, I was only half right.
As a matter of fact, Wicked does indeed detail the life and times of Elphaba (the future Wicked Witch of the West, whose name is a very clever reference to L. Frank Baum), but it actually delves into the Dorothy story in the second act. Dorothy Gale’s presence is played very cleverly; she is never seen on stage, and when she is she is obscured to a silhouette.
Despite being labeled the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba is truly the biggest difference between L. Frank Baum’s story and the musical: instead of being a heartless, completely evil antagonist in the former, this green-skinned woman is very sympathetic and ‘human’ in the latter. Elphaba is not Margaret Hamilton’s wart-ridden, roadkill face; she is a fairly attractive woman who happens to have green skin. What actually came to mind during the first act was Kermit the Frog singing, “It’s not easy being green.” That pretty much summed up Elphaba’s first act story.
The storyline, based off of L. Frank Baum’s story The Wizard of Oz, tells of the tightly-knit history behind the witches Elphaba and Glinda in the Land of Oz, decending back into their “college” years. Galinda the Good, (yes, GAlinda) who is undoubtedly popular, find themselves in a love/hate relationship from the very start. Now, I’m not going to get into the story in detail, you’ll have to go see the play yourself. But know that there is A LOT more than you can fathom in the details of this prequel.
The play is filled with a plethora of catchy hits such as the ever famous, “Popular,” and “Defying Gravity.” The eye catching costumes only add to the already colorful atmosphere of the scenery, which in itself, I found very impressive and original. Brightly lit, and colorful (mostly green of course), yet designed in a very interesting “steam-punk” way – lots of metal, beams and gears. And all of the scenery was moved in and out during the show, and even used to climb and move across.
One of the things I found interesting but fun, was the little interjections of comedy one-liners thrown in. My favorite being, “There’s a goat on the lamb.” Trust me, you have to chuckle when you see it in context. But the entire script, even the more adult level humor, are a PG kind of funny, a definite okay for a young adult audience.
All in all, I really enjoyed the play. I loved the story itself, especially the fact that it brought so much more than expected. I love knowing a version that answers questions such as:
Why is the Wicked Witch green?
How did the Scarecrow, Tin man and Cowardly Lion become who they were?
Where did the flying monkeys come from and what was their story.
Where did the great and powerful Oz come from?
And best yet, what happened to Oz after Dorothy woke up?
Well, you’ll have to go see the play for yourself to get the answers. But trust me, you’ll have a great time finding out.