Drum roll please.
It's time to announce my thoughts on the musical Wicked.*cough* *cough*
It was awesome. Thank you.
He he he, just kidding. This was the first time I'd ever visited the Orpheum and even though we arrived a half hour before the show was supposed to start the place was packed. We asked one of the ushers for directions to our seats, got hooked into some rappelling gear and started the slow climb up to the nose bleed section.My first exposure to Wicked was the book and then later getting my hands on the sound track and playing it continuously til I could sing the whole score in my sleep. So I had a pretty good idea that the musical was a lot different from the book (to the point where I'd say that if you are going to see the musical don't read the book, not so much for spoilers but because it may discourage you from going).
This was definitely one of those rare cases where the new media was a ton better than the book source. While the book was mired in a lot more religious and political "intrigue" (and drug like crazy about halfway through til the sudden knee jerk ending) the musical focused more on universal human ideas: acceptance, fame, friendship and love.
I can easily see why this is such a popular musical (and am just counting down til it becomes a movie, I just pray they cast people who can sing and not just pretty faces). It weaves a lot of humor throughout that can appeal to just about every demographic. It was quite entertaining when a cerebral pun appeared to watch the audience slowly get it and hear the laughs a few seconds after as opposed to say everyone busting a gut at Galinda's prancing (my favorite was when the Wizard upon first meeting Elphaba and Glinda says "So which is which?" though I fear I may have been the only one who got it).
Wicked also has a much more coherent story with better morals than most other musicals I can think of (don't even get me started on the shallow and awful message of Grease). There is of course a bit on how to not judge a book by its green color, shallowness and popularity aren't everything; but my favorite is how often it visits the idea that history is written not by the truth but by the victor and there's a good chance that the rumors you heard even from the Wizard are probably not even half truths. So it's better to always question, question, question.If you don't really care for the moral or story or even like the songs you still have to check out Wicked if only for the amazing set pieces and effects. That dragon would light up and move during certain scenes and the Wizards piece was quite terrifying and believeable for keeping Munckins in their place. I'm still floored at the lighting techniques used, the light and shadow play to simulate everything from rain to Elphie's melting. The flying monkeys had such a demonic feel I could see there being a few nightmares from some kids in the audience. Heck they could have scared some adults.
It's kinda funny too how even though Wicked is supposed to be about the Wicked Witch of the West it's clearly all Glinda's show (even though in the book she basically vanishes once school is out). She gets by far the funniest jokes and gets to over act in an almost vaudevillian way. Elphaba is a much more subdued and intricate part. So it seemed that while it was easy to click in with Glinda and understand her motivation, Elphie was a harder nut to crack.
We had the Standby Elphaba at our performance, and maybe I was just hoping for far too much as she was always to me the much more interesting character, but I just wasn't blown away by her performance. Her timing seemed off a bit on a few songs and sometimes her interactions with other characters were a bit rushed. She still did a wonderful job especially with the songs, but while everyone else seems to focus more on Glinda and want to be swept away by her I was secretly hoping for Elphie to come into her own. (I'm probably just too critical but I've had a strange tie with witches my whole life --can't imagine why-- so I'm one of those annoying people that always expects more from them).To sum up my mad ramblings: Wicked was an awesome experience, it was a good and easily accessibly story with very catchy songs (you will be singing them on the ride back home). The sets were amazing and would pull you into the world. So if you do get the chance and are even sort of interested you must go see it.
It was sort of sad how many times we'd tell people we were going to go see Wicked and they'd say "Oh yeah, I really wanted to see that." If you can afford the tickets (and even from the cheap seats it was still a great time) there's nothing holding you back from a magical experience.