Saturday, August 07, 2010

"Wicked" Is What I Like Least!

This following Sam Milazzo Oz Blog is about "Wicked", the Musical and Gregory Maguire's book, the overall franchise and may contain SPOILERS and opinions that may not be agreed upon by some readers. These are not the opinions of Jared Davis, who related his own in this blog entry.

My Mum and I recently got the chance to see the musical "Wicked" at the Capitol Theatre, which had reached its Sydney showing and was ending at the later date of September 26.

Before I had seen this musical, I gave the book a read first. And I did not like it.

I have been told that Gregory Maguire is a good writer. I can believe that, but I refuse to believe such a good writer would write Oz in such a manner. Although legally a prequel to the Baum books, the green-skinned birth is clearly a foreshadowing to the MGM depiction, and mixed in with an allegory (personification characters of Good and Bad), language and issues involving discrimination or love or even misunderstanding, made it an un-enjoyable reading experience for me. Especially since there are sequels involved . . . none of which I will ever attempt to follow up on.

Fortunately the musical adaptation was, for me, much better than the book. I was interested in seeing how they'd adapt such a book for the stage. I will say I did enjoy it, the sets were great and the costumes were fantastic (and if I didn't bring my glasses it would have been harder to see). Sometimes the songs were outstanding, and even reached such a high note I was almost afraid if ear-bursting.

I don't like Wicked because...
  • It deals mainly with the MGM portrayal of Oz but in a less magical and certainly less-than-happy way of life.
  • The Wizard is depicted as a manipulative tyrant who doesn't see himself doing anything wrong.
  • In terms of language, Elphaba (as the WWWitch) even threatens to severely kick someone someWHERE!

What makes the Stage Musical Different from the Book? Here's some points... (Major Spoilers!)
  • It begins with the Winkies a moment just after the melting (Dorothy is mentioned by name towards the ending part overlapping with 'Wizard" and is silhouetted behind a screen when the death scenes arrives) and Glinda is asked about the Witch's life. We see Elphaba's parents and birth, and then we skip to the arrival at Shiz Academy and the meeting of the students.
  • Nessarose, who would become the Witch of the East, is born (prematurely) with crippled legs instead of armless.
  • Denslow's Hammer-Heads appear, but other than a dance in the Emerald City they do nothing for the plot.
  • We see Doctor Dillamond reappear in the Emerald City years later to which Elphaba realizes the Wizard's changing of Oz
  • The Grimmerie (a magic book) is shown and Madame Morrible is not hinted at being Mombi-related.
  • Act 1 ends with "Defying Gravity" where Elphaba escapes the Wizard's Emerald City visit (after she magically makes the first Winged Monkey) and Act 2 starts years later when everybody's older and Elphaba has now been in hiding.
  • Boq becomes the Tin Woodman, Fiyero becomes the Scarecrow (Mum actually pointed out to me how these two words rhyme) and it is revealed that the Wizard gave her mother the potion that made her birth green . . . therefore making him Elphaba's father!
  • Instead of Elphaba's son (yes, SON) joining Dorothy to the Wizard, Scarecrow/Fiyero lets Elphaba (hiding in a trap door where she 'melted' - ?) know that the coast is clear and the two leave Oz for a new life together.

Here's what I first said about the Broadway Musical on the International Wizard of Oz Club Forums the day after we saw it.

Yes this is a new story to Oz, but this is not the Oz that Baum started out, nor is it even close to the beloved vision of MGM - no matter how overly popular that one may be at times, at least MGM shows respect. I hate how this story (and now, series) uses Oz's characters, places and things in a way that shouldn't be so, when the author could (or should) have just made up new characters and places unrelated to Oz and made everybody happy. Had he done that, I wouldn't be so displeased with this reading.

I did enjoy the Wicked Musical, but I did not really enjoy the Wicked book (and probably would not enjoy the sequels), so I cannot stand this version of Oz.

And there is talk of a movie as well. This I am not keen on either. Yes when I saw the play I did get the idea of the artistry involved, and the interesting concept and design it could go through, and even I thought of some possibilities . . . but this would only divert further from Baum's true Oz, add more (unwanted variations) to the MGM universe and make a lot of Oz Purists very unhappy.

(Also, my blog title is derived from "Wicked Is What I Do", a song based on the original L. Frank Baum book, from a CD done by the Civic Light Opera Co.)

1 comment:

saintfighteraqua said...

The two middle sequels are by far the worst and deal with all sorts of adult themes that whether you agree with them or not, have no place being used in such a way in an Oz book in my opinion.
The final book is a bit better but ultimately disappointing!

I do not blame anyone for skipping these books, they are written well but very dry and depressing.