“Wicked” Wednesday! A Review
My “Wicked” experience was unsurprisingly cliché. As much as I tried not to exessively listen to the soundtrack before going to the show, it was excruciatingly difficult to restrain myself and I gave in. “Wicked” the musical is what I would consider the “Frozen” of musical theatre. Of course, the parallels are uncanny between the two it’s almost unbeleivable, but the real reason I make that analogy is because, frankly, it’s a crowd pleaser. In the group that I went with, there were some who never have seen it before, and there were some who have seen it and fell in love with it. Either way, all of us have heard of this wickedly popular piece. Along with the group I went with, there were also the rest of the audience that included young children, elderly, couples, and many adolescences (all who were wearing some type of green).
It starts out sort of aggressively, with what I call “doom music” that’s both sad and threatening (“No One Mourns the Wicked”). Then Glinda comes down via bubble and tells the story of her and Elphaba. Now, Elphaba is the Wicked Witch, in which the whole musical is based off of, and Glinda is the Good Witch and former best friend of Elphaba. Galinda “Glinda” and Elphaba “Elphie” were roommates back in college. They started out hating each other (“Loathing”) and then grow to form a beautiful friendship. I always enjoy watching two complete opposites find common ground, which is why I like their friendship, and these two couldn’t be more different. Well, for one, Elphaba has abnormally green skin, making her the most disliked student at Shiz University, something she’s been dealing with her whole life since she was born with it. She also has magical powers and is able to performs spells, something Glinda wishes she could do. It’s a little confusing, but it’s Oz so we go with it.
The musical has themes of good versus evil, friendship and adversity. Elphaba’s actions are well-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean they are necessarily good, either. Glinda sticks by Elphie’s side through it all, even though her actions aren’t always well-intentioned, but hers are perceived as “good” while Elphaba’s are “evil” and wicked. By the end of Act 1, Elphaba decides that she is going to take on her wicked side and fight for what she believes in, despite what the public thinks (“Defying Gravity”). The song’s a hard one, because it involves the actor to not only interact with Glinda, who duets for a bit, but also she has to run backstage quickly to get to the harness that ultimately lifts her up. All while singing. And not only that, but it’s also the hardest song, vocally, to sing in the entire set because of the range in notes.
The special effects that were used were spectacular, along with the costumes that were so quirky and detailed. And often green. I think the development of Elphaba’s wardrobe was fantastic, and also slightly terrifying because her dresses just grow darker and more intimidating, making her look more wicked. On the other hand, Glinda’s outfits mature as she matures, while still maintaining fabulousness in her own extroverted way. For me, the costumes are important for a musical because they give us background on the character without them having to say anything. Of course, on top of costuming and special effects, the singing and acting have to be good as well. For the most part, the actors were exceeding all of my expectations. All the songs were sung very well, besides about thirty seconds of “Defying Gravity” in which the actor didn’t quite hit the notes soundly. Like I mentioned above, that song is difficult. It’s also The Song that the audience is looking forward to and this puts a lot of pressure on the actor.
The next act deals with Elphaba dealing with her fight to right all of the Wizard’s wrongs. Consequently, Dorothy has arrived to Oz, troubling Elphaba in many ways. This part was the most interesting because she’s dealing with the story that we all know of, but the perspective’s changed. We get to see Elphaba’s reactions to Dorothy and Glinda’s and their sides of the story. It’s also interesting to see the Ozian’s perception of both of the witches, one is seen as good and the other bad, even though they have no idea what their motivation is.
I won’t give the end away, but it’s not a happy one. It’s refreshing almost, in a way, because the audience expects the story to wrap up nicely in a bow, but that wasn’t the case. I can appreciate that because it gets tiring watching a happy ending all the time. This musical was probably one of the best I’ve seen in a while. The story was told well, the actors were good, the music was amazing, and I really felt all the emotions. I would recommend this musical to people of all ages.
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