Most of us have seen or heard the story of The Wizard of Oz. Wicked is a prequel to that classic tale and gives us a glimpse of what happened before Dorothy and Toto landed in Oz. The main characters of the story are the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of the North. Wicked draws the audience into understanding that these women became who they are because of the circumstances they were born into and the lives they led. In truth, no one is born wholly “good” or “bad” but their actions, the events in their lives, the people around them, these shape who they are and who they become.
In the case of the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba Thorpp was born with green skin and spent most of her life ostracized and ridiculed because of it. Her father despised her and she lived in the shadow of her beautiful sister, Nessarose. Elphaba is sent to Shiz University for the sole purpose of looking after her sister. Glinda Upland, on the other hand, was a pretty but spoiled rich girl whose life is perfect because she got everything she wanted. She is popular and obsessed with the finer things in life. Their worlds come together when they become roommates. In the beginning they dislike each other but soon come to an understanding, admiration, and eventually a deep friendship.
Their friendship is tested when they both fall in love with Fiyero and when they take opposite stands to an issue that is plaguing the land. Elphaba decides to go against the norm and to fight for what she believes. Thus she is branded “evil” because she is passionate and different. While Glinda decides to stay, maintain her popularity, and be viewed as “good”. In the end, these choices prove to be their destiny.
Although the story left several questions unanswered and would prove confusing to the original story if you really thought about it (but I won’t get into them anymore), the play was extremely entertaining and the characters very vivid and full of life. I think the crowd favorite were the powerful song numbers that really left you breathless and all goose-bumpy. My personal favorites are Glinda’s light and cheery performance of the song “Popular” and Elphaba’s powerful rendition of “Defying Gravity”. Such wonderful performances all around. The play was dramatic (with poignant scenes and climatic revelations), exciting (as there were plot twists and turns), hilarious (as the characters played their comedic roles to the hilt), and just overall a wonderful three hours of entertainment.
The sets were fabulous. There must have been a dozen different scenes – all so magically done – that you felt transported to the halls of Shiz, the grandeurs of the forest, the picturesque Munchkinland, and the glamour of the Emerald City. It was absolutely flawless. The costumes were amazing too. Everyone, from the star of the show, to the ensemble, were dressed to the nines. The effects were thrilling – with the flying monkeys, Elphaba soaring to the sky, the effects of rain, the wonder of meeting the Wizard for the first time, and the startling green glow when they first enter Oz. All of it combined, the songs, choreography, set, effects and performers really made it easy to see why Wicked is such a phenomenal hit.