Saturday 2 November 2013

by Amirul Zain, Form 4 Science 2, Class of 2014

*Note: The following content may contain spoilers.

As I write this, on this night of October 30th, WICKED will be playing its 4159th performance, making it the 11th longest-running Broadway musical of all time. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the show’s successful run on Broadway, a milestone only achieved by 10 other Broadway shows. 

Over the past decade, WICKED has been expanded to not only a national tour across the United States but also to over 100 cities in 13 countries around the world by the end of this year. It has also been translated into five languages: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish and Korean. WICKED has received numerous awards and nominations, prompting an entire Wikipedia page devoted to just listing down the show’s accreditations. These include three Tony’s (Best Actress was awarded to the ever-so-amazing Idina Menzel), six Drama Desk Awards and a Grammy. 

To those of you who have been living beneath a green rock, WICKED the Musical tells the tale of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, the Good Witch of the North, before Dorothy’s house lands in Munchkinland. Do the characters sound familiar? WICKED is a prequel to L. Frank Baum's classic - The Wizard of Oz, explaining how the characters from there came to be, and how the events from the musical affect the events of Dorothy’s visit to Oz.

The show follows a young Elphaba, a girl from Munchkinland born with green skin and Galinda, a rich, spoilt blonde girl hailing from Gillian Country, as young girls who attend Shiz University. They started to loathe each other the moment they set eyes on each other. It is this conflict between their interests that fuel the first half of Act 1. During their time there, they come across many other students, namely Elphaba’s crippled sister Nessarose (who later on becomes the unfortunate victim of Dorothy’s house), Boq (who becomes the Tin Man), Fiyero (our beloved future Scarecrow) and Madame Morrible, who doesn’t have many fans. 

Though a prequel, it was more enjoyable to watch WICKED after Wizard of Oz, as suddenly all those little nuances click together. The puzzles which had small pieces missing in between now fit perfectly. Now you know how the Wicked Witch of the West can be defeated (or can she?) by a mere bucket of water. Now you know why the Scarecrow stayed on in the Wicked Witch's castle. Subtle, little things just makes everything click together seamlessly. 

The show boasts an outstanding soundtrack, their Act 1 closing with the iconic Defying Gravity (which has earned Broadway’s highest honour as the ringtone of Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel). Besides the amazing music, WICKED comes with the whole package - a beautiful stage design composing of a giant mechanical dragon that actually has smoke emitting from its nostrils, unique and bizarre Oz-like choreography and amazing costumes.

I came across WICKED in 2010. I was watching an episode of Glee, where Rachel and Kurt had a diva-off and sang ‘Defying Gravity’. I instantly fell in love with that song. So I looked it up, and discovered it came from this thing called Wicked (which I have heard of before, but never truly knew what it was). I then listened to the soundtrack, and read the synopsis, and the book (which is not for kids, mind you) and my love for musical theatre just grew from there. 

The following year, I had an amazing opportunity to watch it live, on Broadway, in the Gershwin Theare. There it was, the map of Oz, the Emerald City glowing green and the Time Dragon sitting profoundly on top of it.

Broadway theatre is wonderful. You go the this huge building full of other people who are all equally as excited as you are. You sit on this red theatre seat and face a beautifully decorated stage, and suddenly, the world around you seems to fade. You are absorbed into the show, and the characters and the story, and in that short two hours, you forget about everything. Sometimes you laugh. Sometimes you cry. Sometimes you do both. 

It is that one moment where the curtain rises and the first notes of No One Mourns The Wicked sends chills up your non-green spine. That sensation that flows through your being as the Ozians begin to dance and celebrate in a land you know doesn’t exist, but you believe that it does for a couple of hours. 

Then there she is, descending on her bubble, Galinda. Who precedes over the Ozians, belting out her amazing high soprano. 

“Is it true you were her friend?” someone asks. And then she remembers her. The green girl, Elphaba.

The green girl who was treated like a freak by the students of Shiz University. Who at first, sparked something unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe when she met Galinda, her other half-to-be. Then the magic kicks in, and the beautiful blonde beauty becomes the only friend of the green one. Who knew that they were both be destined to be the famous witches we grew up reading about in Dorothy's tale? 

Would you give up your friendship for one last sliver of hope that you know would make everything better? Would you chase your dreams or chase your loved ones? Would you be brave enough to fight for what is right and defy gravity, even it means everyone else hating you? It was destiny that separated two best friends. The beauty and the bland. The admired and the feared. The Good and the Wicked. This is what the musical is about: there are always two sides to every story. 

Some people thank goodness for what they have become, some just get greener and look for ways to redeem themselves. The girls become women, the boy is now a man. Funny how hearts can be destroyed when three people are on stage at the same time. Some change, some transform, and some are reborn. These two girls meet again, both grown up, and say one last goodbye. That’s when your tears fall. That’s when you realize they will never seen each other again, but they will never forget. The lights go off, the curtain goes down, and you have been changed. But who can say if you have changed for the better. You just have, for good. And hopefully not the last time, you leave the wonderful land of Oz.

Happy 10th anniversary WICKED. Thank you for introducing me to musical theatre and changing my life forever. May you defy gravity, dance through life, and continue to mourn the wicked for many years to come, because you are so wonderfully popular and unlimited. The future is unlimited
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