WICKED: A New Musical

6 Aug

I just came back from seeing WICKED: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz at Place des Arts and omg… I want to see it again!

I don’t quite remember how I first learned about this Broadway musical but given that it’s been referenced in two television shows I watch (Ugly Betty — I don’t remember which season this is in but they showed glimpses of a few scenes when Betty was watching it; Glee — I love Chris Colfer & Lea Michele’s cover of “Defying Gravity”) along with its outstanding reviews from critics, my interest was piqued.  I confess, I wasn’t too impressed with The Wizard of Oz when I saw it as a child (it might be a combination of not understanding the plot and dialogue since my schooling was done in French at the time) but I do remember liking the songs.

Last year, I finally got my hands on the book Wicked, by Gregory Maguire, just to see what the big deal is.  The first segment was quite tedious to get through since it’s about Elphaba’s birth and toddler days — way before she became known as The Wicked Witch of the West.  It’s not that children are uninteresting but it was difficult to see what the point of it all is and where the story is going.  Things start to pick up when she attends Shiz University but it’s everything that occurs afterwards that truly define who she is.  It’s amazing how all the details, conspiracy, politics, and characters  all come together in the end.  You can’t help but gain a whole new appreciation and understanding to characters in The Wizard of Oz because Maguire’s prequel gives them such depth and complexity — far beyond what the film portrays, which is so biased and shallow to begin with.  To my delight, the book exceeded my expectations in nearly every regard.

Book Versus Broadway

Like all adaptations, there are differences but in this case I actually prefer the Broadway version to the book.  The tweaks give the ending a whole different tone.  I’ll stop here since I don’t want to ruin it for anyone interested in reading/seeing Wicked, but I will say this: the show really does live up to all its hype.  It’s funny, dazzling, heartbreaking, thought-provoking, passionate and inspirational.  The cast is incredibly charismatic (Christine Dwyer & Jeanna de Waal are amazing); the sets are fantastic (I love how they change scenes); the costumes are so colorful and detailed; the choreography and songs are captivating; the singing is phenomenal… oh the list goes on!

You don’t have to read the book to appreciate the Broadway show but there will be minor details that you’ll miss out on such as the structure of the stage:

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You can’t really see it but there are cogs and spools all along the sides, framing the stage behind the dragon (very steampunk-ish, lol).  And yes, the dragon does move.

It’s a reference to “The Clock of the Time Dragon” in the first part of the book (which the musical omitted) when the origins of evil is discussed.  It’s interesting because the “clock”‘s arrival sets certain vital events in motion that will ultimately change the fate of prominent characters.   In the musical the origin of evil is introduced much more concisely since we jump right into it.

Is It Worth Seeing?

If the staggering standing ovation is anything to go by, then its a big YES!  I don’t know if this is the norm but people were clapping and cheering enthusiastically after every song and dance number; quite a number of us got teary-eyed near the end as well.  The troupe is currently on tour so if you’re lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they’re performing, I highly recommend you  go see it.  It’s worth every penny.  Even my friend who normally doesn’t like musicals became enraptured by it.

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[edit] I must apologize for the lack of posts lately.  We’re doing a bunch of renovations at home right now so it’s really inconvenient for me do to anything on my laptop.  There’s so much stuff piled up in my room that I feel like I’m one of those people on TLC Hoarders.  >___<

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