I was simply blown away yesterday when I saw Wicked on Broadway. It was not only the amazing set and costumes and incredible voices of the actors, but it was the connection I heard and saw in the story line. The underlying theme that the theatre piece was able to deliver so clearly by the actors…
Humor me as I treat the fiction story of Wizard of Oz as real.
All of us, since we first saw or read about Dorothy and her adventures in the land of Oz, have had a pre-conceived understanding of what happened. We all rejoiced when the Wicked Witch of the West melted and Dorothy was saved and free to return home.
Who actually took the time to question:
- if the witch was truly wicked…
- if she truly deserved to die…
- if she deserved that no one would waste another moment on her character…
We (I) did not even question that there might be a different side to the story. It was a done deal, that the witch of the West was the bad one and that beautiful Glenda was the hero. Never mind the witch that was killed when Dorothy’s house landed on her.
What an amazing story unraveled that challenged your understanding of whatever you had believed was true and not ever in question before.
Here is what I “knew” to be the whole story before:
Dorothy with her dog, Toto, are in a tornado and the house drops on a witch in the land of OZ. The good witch Glenda gives the witch’s shoes to Dorothy to help her get back home. On her journey she meets a heartless tinman, a cowardless lion, and a brainless scarecrow. They continue with her on the journey to meet the wizard of Oz. The wicked witch of the West, sister of the killed witch, tries to get Dorothy to return the shoes. The Wizard of Oz meets with Dorothy, only to tell her that she will need to bring him the broom of the wicked witch of the West before he can help her. On her quest, Dorothy is captured, but ends up being successful in securing the broom by throwing a bucket of water on the witch which causes her to melt.
Dorothy is being celebrated as the hero that killed the wicked witch of the West. Dorothy brings the broom to the wizard and returns home by clicking the heels of her shoes together and repeating “There is no place like home” .
When I first heard of the play and that it was about what happened before the witch melted, I thought that it story line will explain to the audience the reasons WHY the witch turned bad. Surely her upbringing would be at fault. Surely things that happened to her defined why she was so wicked to the bone.
Here is what happened.
The wicked witch together with her handicapped younger sister are sent to a school. Their father loathes the green witch and adores the younger sister. The older one is simply being tolerated as the caretaker of the younger one. Because of the color of her skin she is being outcast by her peers. Even her sister resents her. At school they meet Glenda, a beautiful and popular girl. Glenda and the green with end up rooming together. The green witch is intelligent with great powers, that do not go unnoticed by the wizard of Oz. Glenda on the contrary is played as a superficial, shoe loving “dumb blond”.
The green witch, Elphaba, longs for acceptance for who she is. She puts her hopes in the Wizard who she believes is the truly powerful man of Oz and would accept her and her powers.
While at school, Elphaba, earns the respect of her teacher, a goat (If lions, scarecrows and tinmen can talk..so can goats) . To make the story shorter, the disappearance of many teachers across the land, animal experiments and the bystander attitude of all in fear of their own status and safety leads Elphaba to stand up against the Wizard. He tries to lure her with promises of acceptance and power of joining him. The witch defies him and goes into hiding. Through propaganda by the wizard and his followers a witch hunt for the “WICKED” witchÂ ensues.
My favorite scene was Elphaba’s understanding and rise to being a witch- Her understanding of who she really was and to be proud of that. She could not be quiet of what was happening in the land of Oz. Her choice of doing the right thing, against doing popular and safe thing.
You can listen to the song “Defying Gravity “here.
History will always be written by the winners. So often the points of view of the losers are being lost or distorted for the rest of the people yet to come.
Depending on your point of view one person can be called a “liberator” or traitor, an invader or savior…
Truly an amazing show and great music. Can’t wait to be able to take my daughters one day.