The Path to Wicked

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There never yet has been a musical that’s played so hard to get with me as Wicked. My interest to watch it began in March 2005 when a theatre critic in New York personally recommended it to me. I checked some reviews, all of which were glowing. Wicked was showing in Toronto then, but all the performances had been sold out. At every performance, there were people in a long line outside the box office hoping to win the 6 tickets that are balloted. I went once to try my luck…stood in drizzle for about an hour with Shawn. No luck then, and I wasn’t crazy enough to try again.

I was so pleased to hear Wicked was coming to T.O. for a second run, and I purchased two tickets as soon as ticket sales began… even before I knew for certain who would be taking the second ticket (it was before Zibin confirmed he was going to Cornell). Alas, I realized during the summer that the performance I had purchased tickets for coincided with the GSCOPE conference. The first thing I did? Buy another two tickets for the weekend after GSCOPE! *laughs* I figured I’d sell the other tickets somehow…and I did! (Thanks to Jing Jing & friend :P)

So I caught the matinee show yesterday with Zibin. And I suppose I can say that I wasn’t particularly impressed. But nor was I disappointed, which says something because there’s been so much hype over it. I’d long known the songs weren’t fantastic on their own, but I’d read in many places that the plot and dialogue were the musical’s strengths. The play was witty at some parts, but it wasn’t nearly as witty as some lines in Sondheim’s Into The Woods. It wasn’t as ‘laugh-out-loud’ funny as Mel Brooks’ The Producers. The plot was interesting enough but I didn’t find it particularly engaging… and that’s surprising cos I’m someone very easily engaged by stories. And given that the songs were too ‘pop’ for my tastes as well, it didn’t make for a very memorable musical experience for me.

Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed Wicked. It certainly ranks several notches above Mama Mia in my book. The sets and costumes were quite impressive, and the lead actresses were very good. The audience was also extremely appreciative, which actually enhances the experience of watching a musical that has its funny moments!

There were really only two points in the musical when I was more engaged, and really, neither had to do with the musical per se. During the song Popular, where Glinda (or Galinda as she was at that point in the story) was declaring that she would make Elphaba popular, I couldn’t help feeling that Galinda reminded me of a friend back in early secondary school days. And I mean it in a nice way :P There was that same self-assured confidence, that child-like lack of modesty which was endearingly honest, and that same passion for a ‘project’. There was a particular dialogue which made me laugh out loud cos it was so like her *grin*.

Galinda: …Oh look, it’s tomorrow! Elphie… do you mind if I call you Elphie?
Elphaba: Well, it’s a little perky.
Galinda: And you can call me… Galinda. So… Elphie… now that we’re friends, I’ve decided to make you my new project!
Elphaba: You really don’t have to do that.
Galinda: I know, that’s what makes me so nice!

Listen to Popular:

[audio:Popular.mp3]

(I bet $100 that our mutual friends can guess who I’m talking about. And I swear, if my friends had also seen Galinda teaching Elphaba how to toss her hair, they would all be doubling over in laughter for the same reason as me!*hee*)

The other point that engaged me was the song For Good. It’s the only song that touched me, and it has more to do with my personal experiences than the musical. I echo the sentiment that the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba wasn’t that well developed in the musical, and I felt the final scene is nowhere as moving as the circumstances ought to have been. But the theme of the song extends beyond the story, and it had left its handprint on my heart long before I watched the musical. It was nice to hear it sung in its original context, finally. *heh* But I think I prefer the original broadway soundtrack version of the song… I don’t know if it’s because I think it’s better, or because like the Wizard of Oz sings, “I am a sentimental (wo)man.” :)

I’m glad I caught Wicked. It’s special somehow. And I really like the pic on the poster. So I got me a Wicked magnet that looks just like the pic on this blog.

Ah musicals. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse that the first two musicals I ever watched were Les Miserablés and The Phantom of the Opera. Those certainly set the bar pretty high. I’ve watched Les Miz twice already, and I’ll be catching Phantom again next March in Toronto because Zibin hasn’t caught it before. I really hope that it will be a good production of the musical!

Edit:
As with a few other musicals, it seems the soundtrack to Wicked improves upon repeated listening. :P

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A ‘Dumb Blonde’ Moment

It was raining when Zibin and I stepped out for breakfast before mass today. I passed him the umbrella to hold. It happens to be this really cute PINK umbrella that I recently bought.

Zibin held the umbrella silently for a moment. He blinked at me and dead-panned, “I feel like Elle Woods (Legally Blonde).”

P.S. His quip was all the more amusing to me because since watching Wicked, Zibin’s been joking that he, like Fiyero, is “deeply shallow”. Somehow, that phrase has been bandied back and forth between us quite a bit since yesterday. Isn’t that just wicked? :P

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