Saturday, January 14, 2012

WICKED - "Everyone deserves the chance to fly"

I saw Wicked on the last day of 2011 and it was an incredible experience.  It was my second time seeing the musical, but this time it was fifth row seats (really 2nd row, behind the orchestra pit seats).  It was two weeks ago, and I had meant to blab all about my thoughts and give a review.

Wicked Witch of The West Before The Labels

It was an amazing experience. And yes, I am certain I made eye contact with the performers being up so close.

First of all, I love music as a tone and drama amplifier for any story. Music is just the tension and drama escalated to higher ground.  I remember seeing Moulin Rouge and how geeked I was when they just broke into song, the story of Les Miserables needs the music to make it so majestic, and the rage and angst and love of Rent demands to be sung. (you can guess what musicals I like.)

The story, as most now know, gives an alternative perspective and background of the Witches from the wizard of Oz, The Wizard himself, and of course those dreaded flying monkeys, with most of the focus on the Wicked witch of the West. The character we remember when we were six years old and hid our faces under pillows and were peeking through our fingers. Just the sight of her minion maniacal flying monkeys made us shriek in horrific delight.

The origins of her being born green, her relationship with her sister (the eventual Wicked witch of the East who has the house fallen ontop of her), and watching her be ostracized --first socially by xenophobes and then politically by the wizard -- are all presented in heads over heels matter. Finally, she becomes champion for the oppressed and then vilified by a government who needs the masses to unite. People come together when united by a common enemy. We need black and white ideas of good and bad. These themes run throughout the story.

The reason the story is extra powerful is that the Wizard of Oz is a modern myth, and its language is accepted part of our lexicon.  The wickedness of the witch who would hurt a poor innocent girl, and her ‘little dog Toto, is a given in our century. Of course she is evil, we can all unite around that, and to defeat her is for all that is righteous in the world to prosper. Shallow minds can't have these presumptions challenged.

The sociological imagination of the story unravels all those presumptions with back story, and a tender yet conflictual relationship develops between the green, nerdy, intelligent outcast and the queen of social popularity who becomes the good witch of the north.

Glinda - We all knew someone just like her in college didn't we.
The good witch of the north could be written off as the stereotypical blond bimbo but was a sympathetic character who grows and despite her apparent longings to be as steadfast to what’s right, she is a compromiser and pragmatist without the moral integrity of her green counterpart.  Most of us are much more Glinda than Elphaba without such a strict moral compass and compromise to easy.  For noncomformity, the world will whip you with its displeasure, and we'd rather not keep  true to our values and risk being an outcast.

The story drove the musical for me, the costumes and stage was second, the musical was perhaps last and was not a ‘must buy’ soundtrack for me the way other musicals have struck me. The voices were incredible, the songs just didn't seem as essential as others I have seen.  The most inspiring song was “Defying Gravity,” (well done by the folks at Glee) and is a great, inspiring, “I shall overcome” song to be added to my Ipod and running playlists.  The set was incredible, especially Act 1's final scene which created an instant memory burn. The fantastic and sparkly Emerald city was indeed an opiate for the masses..

I'll Right Then, I'll Be Wicked
 When Elphie decides to "go rogue," so to speak, and hold true to her beliefs, I couldn't help but think of the line from Huckleberry Finn, where Huck is traveling down river, wondering why he's so bad, and then finally just decides, "All right then, I'll go to Hell."  The reader, of course, realizes it is Huck who is the hero and society with the 'jacked up' values.

All of this seems like such a deep and somber meaning, but the musical is actually full of light moments. There is a nice mix of humor and some sly but obvious nods and winks to lines from the movie.

It is hard to leave the theater without feeling the important binds of friendship, how we all fall short of ‘What Would Elphaba Do?’  And to not question our previously preconceived notions of other evils in the world.

Sitting next to me was an 8 year old, who was seeing it for the fourth time. If she and her friends do as the Wicked Witch did, our world will be a better place, and much safer for flying monkeys and other things we tend to shun because of what we see as evil.

***Special thanks to Blogger, Hungry Runner Girl for her shout out and thumbs up for  The Jade Rabbit.
Check it out at Hungry Runner Girl.

The Jade Rabbit.

STRAY - The Novel

1 comment:

Kristi Lynn said...

Sometimes, when you take something and dissect it so brutally, you can miss the point of why you enjoyed it in the first place. However, with that being said, I hear your voice in every word and the passion you so clearly have for life and morals. I agree, if our children would "do as Elphaba would do" to quote someone I know, then perhaps it will be a better world.

P.s. I'm still super jealous.

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  Check it out!  Happy to announce that TORRID WATERS, the new imprint from  Crystal Lake Entertainment , will be publishing my novella KALI...