You are what you watch.

TV, Movies, Web, Books, and other extraneous things, and why some are worth your time and money - mostly

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Wicked(Spoiler Alert all through post)

I saw Wicked last night, on tour here in Chi-town. The play was mostly a disappointment.
If you've read the book will remember a dark political tragedy about failure and despotism. The musical had some of the politics, hints of the despotism and darkness but none of the failure and none of the tragedy. Act I was Mean Girls in Oz, and Act II was just confused.
While I sympathize with the writers of the adaptation who needed to appeal to a wider "family audience" in order to make a profit on an expensive production like Wicked (It can't be too hard to make a profit when you sell 28$ t-shirts). But little simplifications to streamline the production are not only justified but necessary,
What wasn't justified was the ending. At the end of the book, Elphaba (Aka the Wicked Witch) dies. Dorothy, bucket of water, "I'm melting, I'm melting" the whole deal. But in the play, she pretends to melt and runs away to live happily ever after with Fiyero (who's been long dead in the book.) By making her live, the adapters radically undermines the message of the original book. She fails, all is lost.
While I'm trashing it, I wasn't huge on the production itself, I thought it lacked magic. The tunes weren't hummable, and the magic simply didn't feel magical. There wasn't enough of a sense that this was anywhere beyond our world. And Galinda's understudy kept shaking her bosoms oddly... Is that normal for the production, that whenever she gets excited she shimmies or was that just the understudy?

I'm complaining a lot, but I had a good time. The show was a lot of the things I was led to believe it would be: smart, funny, & visually spectacular, well performed and written. The political undertones were easily the best element of the play, especially in the second act. The Wizard sings a song, that I swear, bush could sing:
I never saw myself
As a Solomon or Socrates
I knew who I was:
One of your dime a dozen

Then suddenly I'm here
Respected - worshipped, even
Just because the folks in Oz
Needed someone to believe in
Does it surprise you
I got hooked, and all too soon?

Not to mention several of the characters spoke malapropisms reminiscent of those our own chief is so renowned for. Those are mostly superficial examples, but the play, especially the second act is a lot about a government manipulating public opinion, excessively using fear tactics (one of the characters actually says something along the lines of "Terror is so terrifying"), and hiding their oppressive regime behind pretty slogans and spokespersons. If I'd finished this post Thursday, the day after I actually saw it, I'd remember some more examples.
The odd thing about that paradigm, though, is that it means that Elphaba, the heroin, is a terrorist... Interesting to think about.


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