“The Wizard of Oz” was never one of my favorite films growing up. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong, but I just couldn’t connect with it on an emotional level. Many years later, the Broadway musical WICKED ended up becoming my all-time favorite show – topping even LES MISERABLES. Trust me, that is quite a feat.
I consider myself a musical know-it-all, but in actuality I’m more of a know-it-most. I’m well versed (hee hee) in shows of the past 15 years or so. Beyond that, my range is minimal. I listened mainly to the “classics”: Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Miss Saigon. I only saw Les Mis on stage twice, but I had the entire album memorized. To this day it is not uncommon for me to break out in song. Just say Papa and I’ll start with “Papa, Papa, I do not understand…” and sing the rest of the Epilogue. Not only does the story take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions but the music matches in intensity. I never expected another show to affect me as much as LES MISERABLES has, yet WICKED achieved that and more!
In 2003, I heard about a new Broadway musical that starred Idina Menzel (RENT) and Kristin Chenoweth (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown). It is a story about the witches of Oz, told from a very different perspective than popular culture is familiar with. I knew instantly that I wanted to see this show…HAD to see this show. I started reading the novel it is based on, more on that later, and was 3/4 through by the time I saw the show in the spring of 2004. I sat next to my mother in the orchestra level of the theater, the smile plastered on my face even before the lights in the house dimmed. From the first swell of the music and mesmerizing visuals, I knew this would be an adventure of a lifetime.
Every single moment of WICKED affected me on not only an artistic level but a spiritual and emotional one as well. This is not only a story about friendship and standing up for what you believe, though both play a significant role in the overall success of the piece. More importantly, in my opinion, WICKED soars due to its ability to knock down walls and expectations, especially those we define ourselves by. It’s up to us to define ourselves and the choices we make; to soar to new heights, overcome unreasonable and sometimes cruel restrictions, and defy that which holds us down.
If you have yet to see this brilliant musical, put it on your must-see list! Regardless of whether people singing on stage is not your “thing”, keep an open mind. You might just gain appreciation for not only the power of musical theater but of your own capability too.
*To learn more about the incredible novel of which the musical is based, click here to read more about Gregory Maguire or buy any, or all, of the WICKED series.*