In re: Wicked: Wonderful or Wretched?

wicked.jpgThis weekend proved to be a busy one, while I was back in Cleveland visiting family and friends.  Anyway, Saturday night I was poised to go to see an opera by Mozart that was ‘updated’ and set on Mars (and apparently not getting the best reviews).  Well despite my progression through my lectures on great music, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t appreciate it enough to overcome what I thought would be the silliness of the costumes and the set design.  So I opted out and decided that my evening would be better served catching up on reading, or more likely Entourage.  At the last minute I had a call to go along to see Wicked, the musical which is based on a book, which utilizes the story of the Wizard of Oz, to tell the story of the wicked witch.  Well I appreciated the invite very much, despite the fact that I was likely their last resort and having exhausted the Cleveland phonebook and possibly those for Akron & Toledo I was called and I gladly accepted, not knowing if I’d really like it or not (although I knew my parents liked it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything does it).  Anyway, I was kind of interested because it seemed everyone was into this musical these days, so either I would get a chance to rip them to shreds for their avid ravings, or to possibly join their cause (normally by the way I don’t have all these arts going options on my weekend buffet, but you will recall I have previously reviewed the theatre on In re: The Rent Effect, although in that case I hadn’t seen it) 

Anyway, despite all the hype, what did I think?  Well to be honest I really liked it, it was well done and while it would have been tough to dislike any production from the great seats we had, the set and the style of the show were really interesting and well done.  Secondly I was surprised to find ‘more’ to the show then just the silly production I envisioned.  The story has lots of overtones and greater themes, which while I might be grasping it seemed to address authoritarian societies, oppression, and such themes.  I feel that the musical is able to be a more complete story and possibly more emotionally compelling because it can rely upon the ‘myth’ of the Wizard of Oz, which is so soundly engrained into our society that essentially there is a huge back-story (the story of the Wizard of Oz) that they can rely on and reference, without needing to do any retelling, or any overt singing of the songs from to gain access to.  Anyway, while I am not sure if I’d race out to see it again next week (despite the fact I probably couldn’t get tickets) it was at least one time worthy of a visit, I am not sure if the songs were as good as other musicals I have liked, but the story is so creative and well done I think it overcame this (although I am probably not the best judge of musical’s and their music so disregard anything I’ve said, although I guess a critic who railed on Wicked is now coming under fire (or water?) in Cleveland, so to avoid that same fate I’ve said nothing neg!).

It’s a simple-minded, black-and-white way of looking at an increasingly gray world, one that offers comfort in a time when penetrating questions and unpopular stands have come to be seen as unpatriotic and dangerous. (Tony Brown, Lost Oz)

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