These reflections are brought to you courtesy of a new musical that Mom and I saw at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco today. It tells the "true" story of one of those legendary figures we're taught to hate and fear. It tells how the Wicked Witch of the West got that way. It's the back story for "The Wizard of Oz," and it's a very funny and moving new show that exceeded all my expectations. It's called "Wicked."
This was probably the first time I've seen a musical without knowing anything about it. I didn't know the songs, and there are some memorable ones. I didn't know where the story was going most of the time, but it took me in places that were both familiar and surprising — at the same time.
Not to give too much away, but it turns out it's all Glinda's fault. Mistakes were made. The house that fell on the witch's sister in that other version of the story? Seems that was part of a "regime change." And I swear I saw monkeys fly.
The two women who star in this pre-Broadway production are magnificent. Kristin Chenoweth is Glinda, the too-good-to-be-true witch who's just a little too blond and bouncy for her own good. Idina Menzel is Elphaba, who grows up to become the Wicked Witch. You know this right away, because she does the whole play in green makeup. It can't be easy to win over an audience when you're green, but she pulls it off. And the voices! Incredible.
I don't usually write "reviews" as such, but I'd really like to see this show make it to Broadway. It's that good, from the play itself to the scenic design to the performances. And then I'd be able to say I saw it in its infancy, before anyone knew what to expect.
When you see "Oklahoma" or "Annie," you know going in what you're going to want to see. You have a kind of mental checklist, because these shows are so familiar that they're part of everyday language. I can only imagine what the early audiences for those shows thought when they saw them, but now I have a little better idea.