‘Wicked’ reveals downside of the green life
|Posted March 02, 2007|
Okay, fine I’ll admit it – I’m a musical theater geek.
I love the burst-into-song, boy-gets-the-girl kind of shows.
But for the past couple of years, the musical that has captured my heart (and filled my head with its catchy songs) has been “Wicked.”
I had the privilege to see the show on Broadway.
So when I heard the production was going to start an indefinite run at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood, I had my doubts that the splashy sets and colorful costumes would make the transition.
I was certainly pleasantly surprised.
The play, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, tells the story of “The Wizard of Oz” from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view.
The audience learns that the Wicked Witch was not really evil, just very misunderstood due to her bright green skin.
Elphaba – taken from the phonetic sounds of L. Frank Baum, the author of “The Wizard of Oz” – just wants to be accepted.
The tagline for the show is “So much happened before Dorothy dropped in.”
Elphaba and Galinda – she later shortens her name to Glinda – are distinct opposites when they meet each other at school.
Hatred brews between the two witches; Elphaba is shunned for looking different and Glinda is loved by all for her perky blondness.
While both girls struggle to find themselves, they ultimately find friendship.
The bond between the two is easily felt due to the wonderful chemistry of the leads.
Elphaba, played by Eden Espinosa, shines as a strong girl who reluctantly learns to trust her own talents.
Galinda, played by Megan Hilty, provides much of the show’s comic relief.
She is exceptional as the snobby, self-absorbed witch who ultimately befriends Elphaba.
The impressive vocal talents of both Espinosa and Hilty allow the music, written by Stephen Schwartz, to tell the story.
In songs like “The Wizard and I” and “I’m Not That Girl,” Espinosa treats the audience to Elphaba’s true vulnerability and the dreams she has of fitting in.
Hilty’s incredible comedic timing shines through in “Popular,” perhaps her most unforgettable song.
The true defining moment for “Wicked” comes in the last scene of Act I.
Elphaba sings “Defying Gravity” – the song that was surely the reason Idina Menzel (the original Elphaba on Broadway) won a Tony.
This powerhouse ballad speaks of feelings that almost everyone has experienced sometime in their life – feeling lost, alone, or discouraged.
These feelings of isolation are one of the reasons this show has seemed to catch the attention of so many young girls.
Elphaba feels utterly hopeless because of her differences; not looking like everyone else has caused her to be an outcast.
But near the end of the song, Elphaba sings, “I’m through accepting limits/Cuz’ someone says they’re so/Some things I cannot change/But till I try, I’ll never know.”
The song finishes with Elphaba flying (literally, with the help of some of the most fantastic staged special effects I’ve seen yet).
Once the curtain came down for intermission, many people around me were crying at the truly touching song.
The message of hope rings throughout the entire show.
It doesn’t matter if you’re different, you can still accomplish your dreams.
Erin Konrad can be reached at email@example.com.