Well hello Internet, and welcome to Tuesday. A weird day here on Thoughts We Might Have Had where I venture into a field seldom ventured. A path seldom trod. A Taco Bell breakfast food rarely ordered. Live theater. I love live theater, I was in live theater, I lived in live theater like a badger laying in a comfortable bed of soft grass and faux fox fur (yeah… that was just fun to type) but I don’t review it that often. It’s hard to judge live theater cause it’s such a different art form then movies or TV or deciding which Disney princess was the least capable (Snow White.)
That said, sometimes you have to just stand up, clap your hands, and call something awesome, and with that extreme giveaway as to my feelings, let us stand aside for our old and cherished friend: the bold fonted segue.
Micah Reviews: Wicked
So many and many a year ago in a kingdom by my… apartment complex… I bought my wife Wicked tickets for Christmas. Wicked was playing at a theater near us (the lovely adorned Peace Center) and it was a show my wife had wanted to see for lo these many moons. And so we stepped out in our semi-finest duds and sat down to watch us some wizardry.
So the play opens with a bunch of people celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the West, when in comes Glinda the Good riding on a magic robot bubble of doom and looking for all the world like she just won a fight with a particularly tenacious glitter covered 1st grader. After some Q&A time Glinda starts to tell the good, crazy people the story of how she and the old “W”cubed used to go school together at a school that people called “Shiz” for reasons that are never adequately (or in fact at all) explained.
So we flash back many years ago, before the magical robot bubble of doom was so much as a twinkle in its mother robots magical bubble eye as the mayor of the munchkins who (mercifully) are not portrayed as creepy horrifying, terrible, walking-nightmare, tiny, monster-people wielding giant lollipops but as pretty much just… people. Anyway, said mayor of town’s munchkin wife gets involved in some… extra-munchkin activities with someone and 4 seconds later through the miracle of stage out popped a very unrealistic looking baby. Like, I’m not an expert on babies but I’m pretty sure that thing was at least the size of a four month old and made from wood and bubble-gum.
But anyway, we leap through time again to “Shiz” as Glinda (then known as GA-linda) arrives to much magical dancy spinning-ness. Whereas Elpheba (the awkward green baby now grown into a much less awkward green teenage person) and her sister umm… Sisterella (confined to a wheel-chair) arrive to boos, hisses, and several leftward swipes on Tinder.
Through various high-school hijinkeries though, GA-linda and Elpheba become the best of friends, sing some songs, do some dances, and make a little noise all the while both falling in love with the same young boy toy, Fontleroy– wait no I mean Fiero. Sorry. The rhyme was too much.
But the two remain friends, and both head off to the wonderful city of Oz too try and survive the gauntlet of horrifying nightmare murder death clown dolls.
And also meet the Wizard of Oz. But in a shockingly somewhat un-shocking twist of events, the Wizard of Oz is in fact not an all powerful wizard standing for truth, justice, and 99 cent hot dogs. He is, in fact, an evil dirty scuzzball jerkwad, who keeps some SUPER creepy monkey people as slaves and is generally the worst old man ever. So Elphaba (and her stalwart moral compass) rise up against the Wonder-Old Wizard of Oz and sings a rousing musical number before disappearing into the intermission.
Post intermission some stuff happens, and Dorothy shows up but doesn’t actually show up and then… umm… Scarecrows? And one dude apparently invented the gun before anyone else?? I mean there’s one gun in this whole play and it’s swung around by a guy who gets captured by four dude wielding spears. I mean, come on child.
Anyway, Elpheba continues her campaign against the wizard while Glinda (now actually called Glinda) gets sucked into the glittering lie that is the Emerald City. The two have ups, have downs, and have a brief wrestling match before everything comes to a head in one final showdown in the Wicked Witch’s super evil castle of DOOM!!!!!!! (Now selling low-fat flying Monkey Latte’s for a limited time at the front entrance.)
Just some super small nits I’m going to pick: I had trouble understanding the group numbers. Maybe it’s cause I’m half-deaf in one ear or because I was sitting several miles away from the stage (because poverty) but their words seemed to sort of blend together and get lost. I had the same trouble with the Senior Citizen Wizard but maybe that was all part of his evil Old-Wizard plan.
I also felt like from a script standpoint the back half of the play was VERY rushed. The script for the first half had some really great moments where the actors got to shine and the characters got to develop but the second half was just a sprint to the finish line where characters jumped from emotion to emotion with little or no impetus other then: this next song says we’re friends. That said the play is almost 3 hours long and it’s not like it didn’t make sense, I just wanted to spend more time with the characters and less time with the big musical numbers… but I’ve also just written a thousand word blog about this so… you could probably make the argument that I’m a weird weirdo from weirdsville and like words way too much.
Let’s just get the two most important ones out of the way first here: Alyssa Fox (Elphaba) and Carrie St. Louis (GAlinda/Glinda/Gamora) are fantastic. Glinda manages to be over the top but relatable and someone the audience cares about, while Elphaba seems rooted and strong and a character that makes the audience root for her. This play would go nowhere without these two awesome actors working at the top of their game and not even I (High-Lord General Captain of Snarky Sarcasm) can say anything bad about their performances.
The music is great… but you knew that. “Defying Gravity” sent shivers down my spine and “Changed for Good” was (and I bet it had NEVER been called this before) the sick-nasty… but in a good way.
I was honestly surprised at how much I gave a crap about the story (especially in the first half.) I expected the music to be great but honestly (and in no small part because of Fox and St. Louis’s stellar performances) I genuinely was pulled in by the story and the characters. That started to falter a little bit in the second half of things as the play sped up towards its conclusion but even so I was really drawn in by what was going on.
There is no reason for you not to go watch Wicked. It’s fantastic. The staging is great, the acting is top notch, and the music is moving and charming. I had a couple little niggling problems with it but it is my (with the biggest quotes ever in the world) “job” to niggle. I am FAR away from being this shows target audience and I’m sure I enjoyed it less then 98 percent of the audience and I still thought it was great and money well spent. You should watch it. Go forth!!
I give it 4 GAlinda-to-Glinda name changes, out of 5.