“The greater sin is not in being declared Wicked, but in accepting appearances of Goodness.” The Broadway Musical by Stephan Schwartz, Wicked, is a magnificent story with outstanding morals and lessons. I have had the honor of seeing this musical many times in several cities in the past five years that it has been released. This performance has given it’s audiences a new outlook on prejudice and that you can never judge a book by it’s cover.
Nearly everyone has seen Frank Baum’s classic, The Wizard of Oz, at some time in his or her life. If they haven’t seen it they have surely heard the story that it holds. The story took on a greater meaning when Gregory Maguire decided to elaborate on Baum’s classic tale (Jones). Maguire wanted to explain all of the unanswered questions that the Wizard of Oz left us asking. Why was the wicked witch so angry and wicked? Why was she green? Was she born wicked? These are just a few questions that Maguire answers in his book that Stephan Schwartz sculpted into the musical, Wicked. Elphaba, the name given by Maguire to the wicked witch, was a misunderstood child from the very moment she was born. She was born with a green pigment in her skin color, which was due to her mother’s promiscuity (Maguire). Elphaba had one dream, and that was to meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She was always an outcast and an outsider due to her outside appearance. The show touches on many of today’s issues that our society faces. Today’s culture is so obsessed with outward appearance it has turned into an epidemic. The reaction and treatment that Elphaba is forced to endure is an exaggerated symbol of how our shallow culture reacts to those who are different. Elphaba soon comes to realize that animals in Oz are being suppressed and forced not to speak and co-exist on the same level as humans in Oz (Maguire). She is a kind young woman in the beginning of her lifetime and she turns into sort of an animal activist. She wants to inform the Wizard of this awful suppression. This portion of the show really takes us back in time to look at the slaves or the Indians in America during the early years of our country. The early occupants of our country suppressed those parts of our culture to put them at a lower level than our own. The show exaggerates our own actions in today’s life in acting out metaphors and symbolisms on stage. This leads Elphaba to the great Wizard of Oz. She was summoned by the Wizard only for his desire to exploit her true power. She comes to learn about his involvement in animal suppression and that he has no true power of his own (Maguire). The Wizard is nothing more than smokes and mirrors. I interpret this symbolism to be the president and our government. During the years of slavery and the poor treatment toward the Indians, our government did little to help matters. In fact, our government was much of the cause for the suppression of these groups. The show takes for a turn and Elphaba decides to defy the Wizard and take matters into her own hands. She no longer wants to conform to what the majority thinks is okay. Elphaba wants to stand up in what she believes in and fight the Wizard. This can be viewed as a symbolism for many of the great heroes in our history who took a stand. Martin Luther King Jr. took a stand and spoke out against those who tried to suppress his people. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to stand up for her people. The story that Wicked tells is not just another fairy tale with another happy ending. Wicked tells a greater story with deep meaning and superb moral lesson.
Wicked the Musical debuted on Broadway in 2003 starring Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. Since it’s debut it started a national touring production cast that travels all over the continental United States. It has standstill productions in Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. After Wicked had such a great success in the United States it went international opening a production on the West End in London, United Kingdom. By the year 2010, Wicked will be open in Stuttgart, Germany, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Melbourne, Australia, and Tokyo, Japan. Wicked has had countless nights of sold out shows viewed all across the globe. It is a powerful show and available to view all across the United States. The Wicked Tour is providing those who are not close to the sit down production in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City, a chance to see this great show for themselves. Wicked is not available on any type of video format. It is still, after five years, a wildly popular show and is strict on videotaping and audiotaping in the theatrical performance venues. If anyone is caught using any sort of camera in the theatre they will be forced to give up the recording. Without being able to view the performance on video it leaves only one option, and that option is to see it live. I don’t believe there is any other option to seeing it. Seeing this performance live is a great experience and educational experience as well. The show reminds it’s audience of the morals and lessons they learned many years ago growing up in life. Those life lessons are portrayed through a great performance of music, dancing, and visual content. Time is spent in elementary school and throughout a person’s childhood teaching them that judging another person by their outward appearance is wrong. Elphaba, the “green girl”, is automatically excluded and pushed away from the other students in her years spent in school. This symbolism shows the way that people have acted for years toward the unknown or different. Normal is only defined by what fits into the majority. This could mean if everybody were green like Elphaba then the one with “normal” or white skin would be the abnormal. Elphaba turned out to be an extraordinary woman, achieving greatness in her quest to do what is right. This is a key example saying, “you cannot judge a book by its cover”. I think that society has come a long way since the forming of our nation. After the civil rights acts, society formed into a more accepting nation. This shows our culture is maturing and it helps to have shows such as Wicked to remind us of our progress.
Not every musical has the appeal to a vast audience that Wicked has. Wicked has one very important factor on its side that makes it different than other Musicals. Wicked has a history with its viewers through its basis in the Wizard of Oz (Jones). The Wizard of Oz is a tale that most everyone in the United States is familiar with and knows very well (Jones). That makes Wicked a very appealing show, not only to usual theatergoers, but also those millions of people that know and love the Wizard of Oz. Usual spectators of Broadway Musicals are especially thrilled with the musical production of Wicked (Jones). Wicked is not a cheap spin off of the Wizard of Oz, it is a great work of spectacular orchestrations and powerful words. Wicked is a great show that the whole family can enjoy together. It is suggested by the producers that no one under the age of eight view the performance, however as long as they are over the age of four they are permitted to attend with a ticket (Jones). Wicked shows a bond that two friends shared after many obstacles and odds stacked against them. “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good. (Wicked).” Glinda and Elphaba speak these powerful words in the final moments of Wicked. Elphaba was forced to share living quarters with Glinda through school. Glinda was a popular girl who valued her status and approval of others. Even though these two women were very different, they were able to overcome the pressure of other’s and be friends. Glinda, valuing her status as “perfect”, was able to resist rejection and support Elphaba in her quest for what is right. Glinda exemplifies the right thing to do, and is a role model for what is right.
Wicked is a wildly popular Broadway Musical that conveys a powerful meaning. It plays in multiple cities across the United States and will soon be appearing internationally around the globe. The morals in the story of Wicked is reason enough to view this great performance. The performance tells its story with symbolisms through characters we can relate to from our childhood. It proves you cannot simply judge based on one’s outward appearance, you must learn to look deep inside for what each person has to offer.
Howell, Brian. ““the Good, the Bad, the Wicked: Lessons From Oz”.” Center for Applied Christian Ethics. 2005. Wheaton College. 6 Feb. 2008
Jones, Chris. “The Witching Hour.” Variety (2004). Masterfile Premier. EBSCOhost. Ivy Tech Community College.
Maguire, Gregory. The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Boston: Harper Collins Publisher, 1995.
Turner, Kathleen. “Theater.” New Yorker 83 (2008): 8-9. Masterfile Premier. EBSCOhost. Ivy Tech Community College, Muncie. 6 Feb. 2008.