So, about two years ago my littlest sister (of a squad of six little sisters) got wind of an SLC tour date for the Broadway musical Wicked. She asked me if I wanted to go, I said “Sure”, and handed over my money.
Two years later, and I had completely forgotten. Fortunately, she hadn’t, so Wednesday night saw me, and five other relatives, attending a performance in seats high enough to require caution lights to warn off local airplane traffic. Seriously. My TV is bigger than the stage was from that height.
So, if you know anything about Wicked (and I didn’t) it’s the “true story” of the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch, and all the other Ozmatics. It’s one of those “make a villain sympathetic by revealing how they’re not really a bad guy”, and the writer of the musical (or maybe the novel it’s based on) should be receiving royalties from Maleficent, because that Disney movie is basically Wicked -witches +fairies.
My sister — My other sister, who also attended. Hey, it gets confusing for me, too. — reads the blog, and asked for a review. “Of what?” I thought. “You saw the same play I did. What did you think?” Here’s my thoughts anyway.
I am not familiar with the play or the music, so there was no built-in nostalgia for me. Being a touring Broadway cast, it was flawlessly impeccable (at least to my untutored eye), and the acting, singing, and dancing were unbelievably impressive, the kind of impressive we take for granted more often than not.
The first musical numbers were muddled, being sung dialogue rather than showstopper songs like “On My Own” or “The Music of the Night”. No strong tunes or melodies, is what I’m getting at, so there is little to hold on to. I’d have liked it a bit more if they had started with some catchy songs for me to enjoy. (The first one that hit is late in the first act, “Defying Gravity” which I had no idea was from Wicked.)
Story-wise, the way the play begins is a little too “after school special” for my tastes. “Racism is bad, mmmm’kay?” Yes, yes it is. It really and truly no shit is. But did we really need yet another piece of entertainment banging that drum? I’ve seen Lethal Weapon II. (And Die Hard 3. And Lethal Weapon IV. And…) I’m cool like that.
Fortunately, the play isn’t trying to lecture you about racism. What it turns into is something Libertarians might cheer at, as the racism angle is revealed to be a plot to keep the dictatorial government in power and various people are forced into open and covert rebellion against the corrupt officials in power. (I’m being as vague as I can, to avoid spoilers, but I also assume anyone who really cares will already have seen it.) Along the way, we see how various characters (Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, et. al.) came about, and even hear about (but never see) Dorothy’s journey through Oz.
Wicked was an impressive spectacle (I’m still wondering how some of the stage effects were pulled off.) and highly entertaining. And, though I’m not hitting up scalpers so I can score another seat at a second performance, it was worth the $80 ticket (and $40 merch).
Currently I’m trying to figure out how to find out about other plays coming to my city, so I can buy seats for them as well. Two years in advance, of course, because that’s the lead time you need around here. So yay for 2016!