What it's about.
Wicked is a musical based on the 1995 novel of the same name. It follows the infamous witches of the Land of Oz as they go from rivals turned unlikely friends uncovering who they are together with opposing personalities, a shared love interest and the shock of the Wizard's corruption - all while dealing with the effects of labels like "good" and "wicked".
I don't think the lines between good and evil have ever been more blurred.
My week leading up to seeing Wicked was not the best. I had been recovering from a sinus infection that ended up leading to some major chest pains, an awful cough and trouble breathing. So when I got to the theatre on a beautiful Thursday evening, I knew I desperately needed the pick me up and boost in mood that theatre brings me.
For some reason, this particular night at the theatre, I felt weirdly lonely. At this point, I'm used to seeing theatre alone and I often feel a sense of peace at the solitude of it. I don't know if it was a mixture of being sick, seeing a show I had imagined seeing a million times in my head or the couple in front of me who kept sneaking in kisses every five seconds, but I felt totally isolated and kept hoping someone would care enough to text me (too bad there was zero signal in the theatre).
And then the show got into full swing and I was fixated! The INFAMOUS Wicked was happening right in front of my eyes and I almost pinched myself. Curiously, I kept asking myself, "am I totally crazy for thinking Glinda is actually the wicked one?" Off the bat, Glinda, the "good" witch is asked by someone from Oz if she knew Elphaba - who is considered by everyone the "wicked" witch. From there, Glinda narrates the story of her meeting Elphaba in school, eventually becoming best friends and then taking off to meet the Wizard of Oz together. I kept thinking, "Glinda is not your friend!! Slap that girl!" I hated Glinda and absolutely loved Elphaba. Was I mixing this up? Was something not getting across? In my eyes, Glinda was a total privileged, blonde b-yatch! Why would anyone like her? Then I remembered! Oh yeah, because teenagers are cruel and don't know the first thing about empathy or accepting others who are different. Also, like the amazing soundtrack of Hamilton points out, "who tells your story" is vital! Glinda is technically in charge of the narration here so, why not make herself look good?
Elphaba, the "wicked" witch, has emerald green skin from birth and spends her entire life and most of her time at college being made fun of, ran away from and treated like total dirt. Funny thing is, out of every character in this show, she does the most good deeds. Although she has nothing but pure and good intentions, every decision she makes leads to bad outcomes which only adds fuel to the fire in a world where people already hate her. But for some reason, every terrible outcome that occurs as a result of Glinda's poor intentions is left unnoticed. And I wonder what this says about our world today and the people in it. The fact that we put people in categories and decide who is good and who is bad based sometimes on whether or not they are the outcast or the popular one is tragic. It almost made me angry that Elphaba and Glinda ended up going from rivals to friends because Glinda was not at all a friend to her. Everything she did, she did with a motive or hidden agenda that benefited her.
During "Defying Gravity", the song right before intermission, I started to get emotional. I started to think about breaking points and how what people say about us, to us and for us can lead us to snap and become angry. Glinda asks Elphaba at the beginning of the song why she couldn't just stay calm instead of flipping out in Oz and I started to feel so heartbroken. Elphaba was a good girl - smart, confident and comfortable with who she was despite what made her different - yet she was driven to become the person that everyone thought she was. She even says in the song that "something has changed within me". It's like how many times does someone have to hear they are evil before they actually become it?
At the end of it all, I left the theatre still feeling ill, but mostly torn by my response to the show. I hated Glinda and hated that people praised her terrible personality. Granted, I did quite enjoy her comedic quirks, I hated that she got to be the one everyone in Oz loved and looked up to. I also wonder how the story would have differed without a love interest. It made me feel like it was there to tip Elphaba over the edge and fight harder, but I would've loved to see her evolve without it. That thought is also coming from the girl who just said she was hella lonely that night. Forgive me.
Side note: I'm still very confused as to why Elphaba couldn't get wet or she'd melt. I don't know if I missed that detail in the show or if that was something known based on the novel but... yeahhhhh not following. Is it because she's green? evil? the elixir her mom drank? I'm lost. Send help.
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