A couple of weeks ago some friends of mine attended the local Broadway Across America production of Wicked. I love the theater and especially a musical! I'd heard about Wicked but never had seen the play. The most I knew about it was that it was a prequel of sorts to The Wizard of Oz and featured the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard of Oz always gave me nightmares as a child...in fact the first nightmare I remember having was after watching The Wizard of Oz. Of course, it could have been due to the Orange Crush and Twinkies I ate during my viewing. No matter how many times I watched it, I never liked that witch. Due to that factor, seeing this musical was appealing for the normal theater musical reasons, but aside from that, I'd not be all that motivated to see it. Boy, had I been missing out. After seeing the story come to life I'm ready to change my name to Elphaba and paint myself green.
I don't want to ruin the story for those that may not have seen it, but the plot surrounds the life of Elphaba, the soon to be Wicked Witch. Even at her conception, she was a "mistake" and unplanned. She was different, being born green and all. And so began her life as someone that is not the norm. Elphaba lives her life caring for her crippled sister, Nessarose, the more loved of the two siblings. The story begins to unfold when Elphaba goes off to attend Shiz University where she befriends (and I use that term loosely) Glinda, her polar opposite. From there the story takes twists and turns that intertwine the story of the Wizard of Oz into this prequel and begin to unfold the unique relationship that blossoms between Glinda and Elphaba. That summary will suffice to keep those who haven't seen it anxious to get to the nearest theater.
The author of the original book, Gregory Maguire, has written many books that take a twist on our childlike tales. Although I'm not a proponent of his homosexual lifestyle, of which I'm sure the basis of his "acceptance" theme is rooted, I do applaud his way of making the underdog shine in this story. We live in a world where the outward is viewed as more important than the inward. Elphaba was green...different....even had powers others didn't possess. But, she was special and had a purpose beyond her mistaken birth and oddity in appearance. And the story shows how being different didn't stop her from experiencing life to the fullest.
I could share many things from the play that would fill a book. I knew even this play could "preach" when one of the first lines was "Are we born wicked or is it thrust upon us?" Biblically, we're born wicked...but that's another discussion for another day. I'll just share two parts of the play that were powerful to me. Elphaba and Glinda are in a love triangle with Fiyero. At one point, Fiyero says to Elphaba, "You're beautiful." She replies, "Don't lie." Fiyero replies, "I'm not lying...I'm just looking at things in a different way." How many women want to hear a man say that? The song that both Glinda and Elphaba sing at different times in this triangle of the story is called "I'm not that girl" and the shared lyrics they both sing are..."Don't wish, don't start, Wishing only wounds the heart: There's a girl I know, He loves her so, I'm not that girl..." I won't ruin it and tell you who gets Fiyero in the end. Let's just say we can give three cheers for the romantic underdogs in the crowd!
One of the closing songs truly touched my heart. It was titled "For Good" and summarized the development between Glinda and Elphaba. I love good character development...in books, in movies, in plays. The words spoke to me a lot about friends in my life and how I feel about their impact on me. And my favorite lyrics were "Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I've been changed for good." Relationships in my life change me, and always for good...and usually for the better. What a beautiful cap to a wonderful story of two very different people making a change in each other. Wow.
If you have a chance to see this musical, pay the money to go. We were blessed with discounts and scored floor seats during a weeknight showing for very reasonable prices. You'll definitely leave there ready to defy gravity with nothing keeping you down. And, you will be changed for good.