Last night’s production was my third time seeing “Wicked” and probably the millionth time I have listened to the songs, and yet I learned the most from the musical the third time around. I entered with nostalgia from my previous performances and the happiness one gets when reuniting with a long-lost friend. I was a bit disappointed to see understudies playing Elphaba and Nessarose, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying a great show.
Though I sang along to all of the songs in my head, I felt the show was rushed. I was also disheartened because I was listening for the incredibly impossible notes the cast hits on my handy Spotify Broadway Album. I was sitting in my chair, waiting to get that overwhelming feeling one gets when they are in love with what they are watching…waiting. Nope. Still waiting.
The musical finally came together right before intermission as Elphaba (understudy Vicki Noon) nailed “Defying Gravity.” That is when I realized I had to appreciate this show for what it was and stop comparing it to my probably romanticized memories of what the musical should be.
The musical went on, and I started to appreciate the certain nuances of this particular performance. The over-the-top Glinda (Lindsay K. Northern) didn’t always reach the notes, but she made up for it in her perfect portrayal of the obnoxious good witch, particularly in her performance of “Popular.” I was pleasantly surprised because, although one is inclined to dislike Glinda, I couldn’t help but to love everything about her character. Fiyero (Kyle Dean Massey) wasn’t perfect for me, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t perfect for the performance. Elphaba grew stronger every act, and by the final song, “For Good,” I could not imagine a better actress to play the part.
Since I knew what to expect, I was able to appreciate how well the musical is set up and how exciting it is to discover the story behind the Wicked Witch of the West, known in “Wicked” as Elphaba. Every time, I realize that my perception of Elphaba is completely wrong–basically, my childhood was a lie. It’s a reminder to look at both sides of a story before making assumptions and choosing sides. The nerdy side of me is always delighted that Elphaba, the once-bullied and looked-down-upon character, is overwhelmingly the protagonist of the story, not to mention the fact that she gets the popular guy. The musical reminds the audience to stay true to themselves, and “For Good” touches heartstrings as the audience is reminded of people that have come into their lives and changed them “for good.”
However, the biggest lesson “Wicked” teaches is that life is about appreciating beauty in its own form. In the beginning, I wanted the musical to be the flawless memory I had of “Wicked” and society wants Elphaba to conform. Once I took a step back, however, the beauty of the musical, the talent on the stage and how the once-hated wicked witch redeems herself is awe-inspiring. With its many lessons, “The Wizard of Oz” jests and well-written script, “Wicked” holds something for everyone.