The day finally came on Friday to get in the horseless carriage and head to the theatre. I was pretty excited in the days leading up to the show, since it’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen a musical. Plus, my folks and Ape & me were enthralled with Wicked the book, which made this particular show a novel (larf) experience. We even had great seats- 13th row from the stage, the closest I’m ever likely to get without having to join the orchestra. First impressions: the first act didn’t live up to my expectations. It veered wildly from the book, rather than the more common approach of omitting non-essential details. The music was not very memorable either- the words were rather difficult to understand sometimes, and this beast bore the mark of soulless contemporary music.
The second act was much better, in nearly every aspect. The action was swifter, the emotion more tangible, and there were a few songs that left me humming after the show. It’s possible that I enjoyed the second more because it became more evident that the musical was conceived for an audience that had never read Gregory Maguire’s story, or even the original Frank L. Baum’s story. The musical is aimed squarely at a family audience who knew the movie inside and out. I have to include ‘family audience’ because nearly every violent aspect of the story was removed or quickly reversed* (read footnote for a spoiler)
Final Assessment: At the end of the night, I decided that I enjoyed the musical quite a bit, in spite of the many inconsistencies with the book I so thoroughly enjoyed.
*The musical depicts Elphaba’s death by water as a trick, which deceives her contemporaries. She is then secretly reunited with Fiyero and they live happily ever after. Contrast this with Maguire’s novel, in which nearly everyone dies.