I want to be a green girl.

I’m not a real reviewer.

I can’t tell you if the Good Witch sang in tune. I can’t tell you if the Wizard didn’t properly emote. I can’t tell you if the voices echoed or the scenery malfunctioned (it didn’t, from what I could tell). I can’t tell you if the orchestra lagged. I can’t tell you if the arpeggio was too fast. I can’t, as you might have guessed, tell you what an arpeggio is.

As a blogger. A normal girl. A romantic at heart. I can only tell you what I felt and I will do my best to tell you that without spoiling any portion of what has now become my second favorite Broadway show — and if I process it and think about it and I sing Defying Gravity in my head long enough, and ONLY in my head on account of my singing voice makes puppies cry, it has a very good chance of bitchslapping the Phantom with an old broom and knocking him down to the number two spot without so much of a [wicked cackle]. It’s best to see Wicked knowing nothing so that the story sort of takes a hold of you and carries you off.

Wicked is the story of the friendship between the Good Witch Glinda and the Wicked Witch Elphaba who you met in The Wizard of Oz. Elphaba is a misunderstood young woman who is both embarrassed by her green skin and empowered by it. It’s the story of a love triangle. It’s the story of the flying monkeys. It’s the story of why the ruby shoes were so important to the “Wicked” Witch.

I don’t know if I speak for ALL girls, but I speak for many when I say that when we are fantasizing or daydreaming, we don’t want to be the beautiful blonde who has a million friends, a hot boyfriend, seven thousand pairs of shoes, and a perkiness that makes people want to ram a fist down her overly-perky throat.

We want to be the girl who is different. Misunderstood. Unwilling to see her differences as weaknesses. We want to be the girl who changes for the better, but at the same time, refuses to change and in the not changing she changes those around her — for the better. We want to be the girl who gets a second look. We want to be the girl with the green skin — green skin that at first seems off-putting, but by the end, is the smoothest, most beautiful skin you’ve ever seen and you’d pay any price to run a hand across it.

That’s what Wicked is. It shows you that until you actually hear it, you can never know the story behind a story. You can’t only not judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can’t even judge a book by its words.

It teaches that different is good. Different is better. Same is boring. Good isn’t always good. Bad isn’t always bad. Evil isn’t always evil. Ugly can be beautiful. Beauty can be ugly. Love isn’t always where we expect it. Friendship isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. What you think you know isn’t always going to be true. Gravity isn’t always going to hold us down.

It’s a stunning production that in turns moved me to tears and had me roaring with laughter, and most of all, it had me wishing for green skin, a defiant chin, and a stubborn unwillingness to turn my back on what I believe in.

Because that is where real beauty lives.

——

I was invited to the media showing of this production and was not asked to review the show or provide anything in return. I simply chose to do so. I cannot encourage you enough to catch this if you can. Try for the ticket lottery. Do what you can to put your butt in a seat and be changed because when Elphaba sings Defying Gravity, I defy you not to fall in love with the girl with green skin.

 





35 Comments

  1. Michele
    September 9, 2011 10:44 am

    Don’t you know? You are a green girl!



  2. G-Man
    September 9, 2011 11:04 am

    I am still partial to “Phantom” as my favorite musical. That said, Wicked is a magnificent show, a close #2. I saw it in Toronto in 2006 and again in Richmond in 2010. I may see it again this year.
    Say what you want about “Defying Gravity.” The best and most significant song – to me – is “(I have been changed) For Good.” It’s the sort of sentiment that should be the core of every friendship.



  3. bucdaddy
    September 9, 2011 11:05 am

    It’s the story of the “flying monkeys.”

    That did it. Mrs. Daddy is terrified by the flying monkeys, so we’ll be skipping this. Sorry.



  4. unsatisfied
    September 9, 2011 11:08 am

    did you know that the woman who wrote “wicked” also created that 90s show “my so-called life” which brought that hotness that is claire danes to my attention? a show which was set in a fictional suburb of pittsburgh?

    you’re welcome.



  5. Rachel
    September 9, 2011 11:09 am

    I’m so happy you loved it! My most favorite song from the show is “For Good” I get chills everytime I listen to it on my iPod.

    If you have time, YouTube the Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel version – “For Good – Wicked – Kristen Chenoweth’s Last” I agree with the poster who yesterday said they would love to go back in time and be able to see those two in the roles.



  6. Rachel
    September 9, 2011 11:15 am

    Also… I now watch the wizard of oz from a different perspective… The Wicked Witch is no longer as scary



  7. Burgh Bird
    September 9, 2011 11:22 am

    Told ya!



  8. Tiffany Harkleroad
    September 9, 2011 11:28 am

    Oh Ginny, as if I were not already excited enough about seeing Wicked next weekend! I am not even sad that I will miss the second day of PodCamp to go. I am more than willing to make that sacrifice to see it. Sigh. Swoon. I better get my tissues ready…



  9. Burgh Bird
    September 9, 2011 11:29 am

    Oh, and if you are inspired to read the book now that you’ve seen the play? DON’T. It is NOT at all like the play. The book is a mess of political turmoil, class warfare, etc. If you’re into that sort of thing and want to read it for its social awareness qualities, that’s one thing. But if you’re expecting to read the story you just watched on stage, it’s completely different.



  10. Jaime
    September 9, 2011 11:37 am

    There isn’t a part of Wicked that I didn’t love. The story is inspiring and really made me think about how many other times when you think you know the true story but you really don’t.

    I love the soundtrack and play it in my car all the time.

    Glad you liked it.

    @G-Man – I loved the original soundtrack to Phantom and finally saw in Pgh last fall and was so disappointed. I don’t know if it was the production but I was severely underwhelmed. Maybe its because I built it up for so long that I was bound to be disappointed.



  11. Rob
    September 9, 2011 11:42 am

    Picked up a batch of tickets for our group a while ago as Christmas & birthday presentsGlad to hear this will be as good as I hoped!



  12. Kaylee
    September 9, 2011 11:43 am

    I second Burgh Bird. Even if you were looking for a politically motivated book it is not written well and very hard to follow. Characters are introduced in the beginning and then show up two hundred pages later with no recollection of why they are important, they dicuss multiple different locations and civilizations that you need to refer to a map to remember, etc. This is the only book I couldn’t finish because of how un-engaging it was- disappointing to me after investing hours and hours over 400 pages (I gave up in the last 100 pages)



  13. Kim Gould
    September 9, 2011 12:15 pm

    Loved the book, hated the play. Different strokes, I guess!

    I do love the song “Popular,” though!



  14. Pensgirl
    September 9, 2011 12:32 pm

    I cannot agree more that people should go into the show knowing nothing about it. I thought it was so much better for having been introduced to me all at once.

    And I just loved that the central relationship story was the one between the two women, not between either of them and Fiyero.



  15. Tam
    September 9, 2011 12:45 pm

    I second – you ARE the green girl, Ginny.

    Also second – book does not equal play. I am the one who is always saying that the book was far better than the movie/play…except for this one. Having seen the play, with the family, when my 14 year old daughter wanted to read the book, I said sure. Then I read it after her. Sigh. Then I remembered why I was to read before her. And I knew that she had made a leap forward into the real world…



  16. stateofmain
    September 9, 2011 12:58 pm

    Another comment about “the book and musical are nothing alike” with a tick in the “I liked the book much better” column. Or rather, “How did someone come up with this musical out of that book?” I like singing the songs in the shower (original Elphaba, Idina Menzel, has been my Broadway Goddess since RENT), but the book was awesomely dark and wonderful the way Tim Burton movies are.

    That said, the second book is entirely forgettable.

    And I don’t care how ridiculous it is or how much Lloyd Weber wants to tweak it, Phantom will always be my #1.



  17. Brianne Mitchell
    September 9, 2011 1:03 pm

    This is a fantastic review of an amazing show. As a rabid fan of the book and musical, I’m thrilled to have another witch on board defying gravity in Pittsburgh and beyond.



  18. Larry
    September 9, 2011 1:05 pm

    Just putting in my two cents on the book/musical discussion…

    I think that people who read the book after seeing the musical — and hate the book — react that way because they expect the book to “be” the musical: same story arc, same characters / motivations, etc. Since they aren’t, and since the musical touches certain emotions (and the book doesn’t hit the same notes), the book is “bad”.

    I would have to say that the book is just “different”, especially in what it’s trying to do. I second statofmain’s “how did they get *that* musical out of *this* book?!?!?!?”



  19. Carpetbagger
    September 9, 2011 1:12 pm

    I can tell you that little boys don’t want to be Prince Charming. We want to be flying monkeys.



  20. PittinDC
    September 9, 2011 1:28 pm

    My parents saw this last night and said it was fantastic. I skipped it while it was at the Kennedy Center – I’m holding out for Broadway. And if they could ever get Idina and Kristen to come back, I would pay any money to see them in these roles.



  21. Ed Heath
    September 9, 2011 1:29 pm

    @Carpetbagger – We might want to be Captain Kirk (doesn’t his logic run similar to “dog logic”: if it is good and male, ignore it, if it is evil and male, shoot it, and if it is female and the main guest star, have sex with it (good or evil). Or Captain Archer (similar logic, but you look more confused).



  22. Pa-Pop
    September 9, 2011 2:05 pm

    I’ve always enjoyed the fact that the name Elphaba is an homage to the original author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Wicked author Gregory Maguire put L. Frank Baum’s name through a mild meat grinder and it came out Elphaba.



  23. Burgh Bird
    September 9, 2011 2:09 pm

    The funny part is, I read the book YEARS ago….right out of college when I thought the social awareness theme would be “cool”…I found it dry and hard to follow and I’m just not a political person, so I didn’t really love it. And when the musical came out, I originally was jaded to its brilliance because I remembered the book….I went to the play reluctantly, expecting the play to be like the book, and was very pleasantly surprised.

    Kim- Different strokes, indeed!



  24. Kristie
    September 9, 2011 2:11 pm

    I third Stateofmain’s “how did they get this musical out of that book”. I read the book well before I saw the musical and while I enjoyed both, they are very different. Was supposed to go see Wicked this weekend, but had to cancel. :(



  25. Stephen
    September 9, 2011 2:35 pm

    I thought “Wicked” was aa musical bout a group of Bostonians proclaiming how awesome various things are.



  26. Beth
    September 9, 2011 2:35 pm

    I may not fantasize about being a hot blond, but I DO fantasize about having seven thousand pairs of shoes.

    I wanted to see this, but I waited too long to buy tickets and only the expensive ones were left. Phooey!!!



  27. Linda
    September 9, 2011 3:34 pm

    I’d love to go see it but can’t support the exorbitant ticket prices. It should not cost more to see the show in Pittsburgh than it does to see it on Broadway. If you hadn’t gotten to go for free could or would you have paid $145 plus fees to see it?



  28. Jaynie
    September 9, 2011 4:05 pm

    Stephen- that is a hilarious comment.

    I love love love this show! So glad you got to see it and love it too! :)



  29. cmd_45
    September 9, 2011 6:33 pm

    I have not seen the play but did listen to the soundtrack before I read the book. It was very interesting to try to reconcile the book with the songs and eventually I had to quit. The theme of the book and the play (I think, not having seen it) are the same…changing for good and how perception is not truth. However, the book deals with much, much more dark stuff…politics, discrimination, racism, etc. It was a good book but very complex. I am glad the play simplifies and still carries the general theme.



  30. Heather
    September 9, 2011 8:19 pm

    Even though I have an insane love of musical theatre, I’ve never really had an overwhelming need to see Wicked. I don’t know why. But now that I’ve read your review, I can’t wait to see it. I want to be (or already am) a green girl. Thank you for your beautiful commentary.



  31. Tampa Amy
    September 9, 2011 11:29 pm

    I have a bootleg vhs copy of the original b’way cast – SSHHH!! Don’t tell! :)

    I actually really liked the book. Very different, but amazing in it’s own way. What you have to realize is that B’way is in the business of selling tickets. The creators want to tell a great story, but in order to get their show on the great white way, it needs to be profitable. Therefore, they find a product they are interested in producing and make the necessary changes. I don’t think the book as written would have made a good b’way show- however, after making the changes they made, it ended up being a great b’way show. The main plot points are still there but now has that mainstream attractiveness that will sell tickets. Gregory Maguire who wrote the book also wrote Mirror Mirror (Snow White from the perspective of the Queen) and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Cinderella…). Those books have also been tapped for b’way, but I haven’t heard anything lately. Winnie Holzman adapted the book for the stage – she’s the one who created My So-Called Life.

    Many people think Legally Blonde was not up to par, but it’s impossible to recreate the movie (just check out the Lord of the Rings stage musical they tried to do in Canada a year or so ago). There are going to be changes in order to make it work on stage. LB also teaches similar values and empowers young women just like Wicked. Oh, and both shows had at one point a mutual PGH connection. PGH native Gaelen Gilliland was in the b’way Wicked ensemble and Mdm Morrible understudy and then later originated Elle’s mom and Paulette understudy in LB. Google her name and you’ll find clips of her performing in both! :)



  32. G-Man
    September 9, 2011 11:31 pm

    Jaime –
    I made a trip to Pittsburgh in August 2010 centered around seeing “Phantom” on what was the penultimate tour stop. I had seen it once before in Toronto in 1999 and, of course, the film which does minimal justice to the musical. Since I was mostly unfamiliar with the story and music my first time, I enjoyed it but was confused a lot in Toronto. Knowing it much better last year, I had a much better, more comfortable time at the Pittsburgh show. But you are right – that production was not exceptional in any way. But the story, songs and writing are exceptional. It’s just that we saw a cast that simply did not measure up to the standard Michael Crawford set those many years ago. For what it’s worth, a Pittsburgh friend saw the show in Toronto about the same time as me and hated that compared to what he saw on tour in Pittsburgh a few years earlier. People just find find differences they like or hate, I guess.



  33. Butcher's Dog
    September 10, 2011 9:48 am

    Add me to the list of those who said “I told ya”. First time I saw it in the ‘burgh they were selling infant t-shirts that said “Green Babies Rule”. I’m assuming if they were still available you bought some for your flash-mob fertility sisters.

    @bucdaddy: tell Mrs. Daddy to man up. The flying monkeys aren’t that bad and the rest of the show more than makes up for it.



  34. Ya Jagoff
    September 10, 2011 9:51 am

    Have not seen this in Pgh but saw it twice in NY with Idina Menzel and Christine Chenowith.. even from a GUY’S perspective, VERY, VERY good….but not quite as good as SPAMALOT – from a GUY’S perspective!!



  35. Smooter
    September 12, 2011 4:26 pm

    I picked up tickets for my wife’s birthday. And, I must say, I may be looking forward to it just as much, if not more, than her!