26 April 2012

Wicked

The first I heard of the story of Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was in high school. My friend Alyssa and I were going to a local restaurant to write a review for the student-run paper, and we were taking her Volvo, with the sheeps-wool seat covers, the left rear turn light that didn't work, and which was so old it could legally drink. I once saw her and a friend duct-taping the exhaust pipe back onto the tail in the school parking lot; nonetheless, we took her car*  and it's a good thing we took her car, because the CD that played when she turned it on was the soundtrack from the original Broadway cast of the musical Wicked.
*Six years later, is still running -- I saw her younger sister driving it when I was back in the hometown last year, and her brother turned it into a community art bumper-sticker project a few years ago.

So obviously, she flipped around to play all the best songs, including one of my still-favorites What is this feeling? I hadn't heard of the book by Gregory Maguire, but I quickly obtained and read it (and then every other book by him).

We almost got to see Wicked on Off Broadway when we were in Chicago with a few friends the winter of that year, our senior year of high school. Alyssa documented this on her LiveJournal, and for some years it was the third item that appeared in Google searches for me.
"When we were in Chicago, we tried to win the raffle to see Wicked. However, with five people, we would have to win 3 vouchers, because you can only buy two tickets with each win. When they announced that there were only 2 tickets left, we started to leave, and as we walked out the door, they called "Callie Leuck," and Callie yells "WE DONT WANT THEM ANYMORE!" It was beautifully tragic. But then this really nervous asian guy won the tickets, and he was really excited and I think he said "thank god" but it sounded like "tan-go." But I was happy that he won because he was so nervous and wanted the tickets relaly bad. I was about to overthrow mandy and ditch caa$ and bek, take callie hostage, and see the show anyway. But I'd like to see Anne and Scott, and I know that Rebekah adn Lis would hate me for at least a while, so lets plan it my friends."
We didn't end up seeing Wicked together. BUT my residence hall organized a trip the following year. I didn't know anybody on the bus, but I got to see Wicked and was blown away! I gushed about it so much that my family went to see it, and I got to see it again!

I know some people have been underwhelmed by the Broadway performance, or unimpressed and frustrated by the book. But I've massively enjoyed the Maguire books (There are what? Five in this series now?), loved the stage performance, and still play the CD in my car, singing along with all of my favorites.

One of the reasons I love it so much is the character complexity of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Which is probably me showing my writer-geek card, but there it is.

Now You! 
What are your thoughts on the books or music or performance?