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Wicked Girl Saving Herself - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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May 27th, 2010


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05:33 pm - Wicked Girl Saving Herself
A year and a half after reading the book, I have finally seen Wicked. Based on its popularity and the fervent love from its fans, I expected it to blow my mind, fill me with unending joy, and make me immune to all disease.

I think I will still get some diseases, but the musical was very good.

It was very different from the book, which I expected, although I had forgotten just how different it was until I refreshed my memory afterward with Wikipedia. I liked how compressing the story really helped focus on the development of Elphaba into the "Wicked Witch" we know she'll become, particularly the slow visual transformation from a bookish student to an iconic villain—although her "villainy" is all about perception, which is the point of the show. Her relationship with Glinda was also clearer in the show. I like that the way it's framed from Glinda's perspective adds another layer of tragedy to the story: it's a lovely friendship that gets torn apart through no fault of their own. Mostly. I didn't like what they did with Fiyero, though; that was too "typical musical love triangle" for me.

It's a very technical production, and the set and lighting were very cool. There was a giant dragon above the stage that unfortunately only flopped around a lot and never flew over the audience and ate Munchkins or whatever. But I loved how the set was always changing through the show, during the show, so there was no waiting. Giant set pieces would be moving on and off fluidly. The Act I finale was totally badass and unlike anything I've seen on stage before, largely because of all the special effects. I had seen pictures of that final moment, but actually seeing it on stage was unbelievable. Clearly the high point of the show.

Which meant that Act II was quite inferior to Act I, and I was tired and sleepy by that point anyway (it's a long show!). Act I had such an interesting build, and Act II was just...finishing the story. The divergence from the book was even greater in the second act, especially the ending, which made me roll my eyes. I did think certain...transformations were clever, though.

The songs were more pop-y than I expected but weren't terribly catchy; I can't remember a single tune today. If I listened to the soundtrack a million times, I'm sure I would get them stuck in my head, though. There were some good, fun songs, for sure. I liked that the songs would frequently switch between singing and speaking mid-verse. And the singing was impressive. We got Eden Espinosa and Kendra Kassebaum, who appear to have played their roles longer and more often than anyone else, so they were great. Eden frequently had to command an empty stage all by her greensome, and Kendra was as supremely, hilariously, adorably irritating as she was supposed to be. I'm not that familiar with Idina Menzel, but I was imagining Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda and could see how perfect that was. Stephen Schwartz is an asshole, though: the actress playing Elphaba has to have a crazy range.

Dan and Colin, who hadn't read the book, really liked it and were impressed that it was so complex for a popular musical, and I do like that they kept some of the complexities and darker themes from the book, but it felt like a sunshine-y happy version of the story. Which still worked and, as I said, made for a much clearer narrative throughline. It was a fun show, and I enjoyed it.
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Current Music: Foo Fighters - Baker Street

(15 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


From:toastandtea
Date:May 28th, 2010 12:49 am (UTC)
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I've seen the stage show but haven't read the book, although i do own it (I'M SO GOOD AT GETTING AROUND TO READING THINGS). Your talk about the complexity of the book makes me more curious to read it-- part of the reason i've never gotten around to it is because i already saw the show so i don't have a lot of curiosity about what happens in the story. I looooooooved the show though, the Glinda/Elphaba relationship was my favorite.

The Act I finale was amazing and unlike anything I've seen on stage before, largely due to all the special effects. I had seen pictures of that final moment, but actually seeing it on stage was unbelievable.

IT'S INSANE. I may have seen pictures of it beforehand, but i honestly can't remember because still pictures totally pale in comparison.

I'm not that familiar with Idina Menzel, but I was imagining Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda and could see how perfect that was.

YES, i feel the same way. I don't remember who i saw in the roles (i, uh, am unfamiliar with stage actors), but i could totally see them as Chenoweth and Menzel. (haven't you seen RENT? IDINA MENZEL! she's awesome.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
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Was she in the movie? I saw that. And I saw her in Enchanted. But otherwise, she doesn't really ring a bell. Unlike one Olive Snook.

IT'S INSANE. I may have seen pictures of it beforehand, but i honestly can't remember because still pictures totally pale in comparison.
With the lights! And the billowing cape that was either an amazing lighting effect or magical cloth that came out of nowhere!

Your talk about the complexity of the book makes me more curious to read it-- part of the reason i've never gotten around to it is because i already saw the show so i don't have a lot of curiosity about what happens in the story.
Read my book post! There's a looooot more to the book than the musical.

I looooooooved the show though, the Glinda/Elphaba relationship was my favorite.
Mine too!
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From:lynevere
Date:May 28th, 2010 11:30 pm (UTC)
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Yes, Idina Menzel reprises her role as Maureen in the movie.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:54 am (UTC)
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That is one of the more...popular songs! And if I heard it a few more times, I would remember it more, I'm sure.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:May 28th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
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Wow. You're the first person I know to not think those songs were catchy. Popular, in particular, comes to mind.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:53 am (UTC)
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"Popular" was a good song, but for the life of me, I can't remember exactly how it goes.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:May 29th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
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I don't know why but I find that impressive...
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC)
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I did indeed see that back in the day! That was the only thing I had heard from the show before seeing it. Lemme watch it now that I know the song.

Aaah yes. That's hummable.
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From:gymble
Date:May 28th, 2010 05:01 am (UTC)
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Man, I still haven't managed to see this show. It's always sold out when I'm in NY.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:59 am (UTC)
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Come up here! Maybe it will be less sold out.
From:wee_warrior
Date:May 28th, 2010 06:48 am (UTC)
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I'm not that familiar with Idina Menzel

She's currently on Glee and she's really very good. These two are duets with Lea Michele (Idina is the one who starts the first song and sings the second voice on Pokerface).
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 28th, 2010 07:30 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I've been hearing the theatregasms about her Glee appearances!
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From:mycenae
Date:May 28th, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
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The dragon was such a disappointment. I was sitting in the front row of the balcony so it was directly in my line of sight. Every time it underwhelmingly waggled about I would shake my head at it. The actually RELEVANT parts of the set were awesome, though. I like moving parts! I especially liked the bridge and the side balcony bits. I like when sets create different levels on the stage for actors to move around on.

Before seeing it, I was already a big fan of the music, and I still am, but somehow I'm just sort of "meh" on it as a show. I expected there to be more plot between the songs! But there wasn't really! That surprised me. I wanted more about why the wizard was getting rid of talking animals, more character development for Fiyero and Nessa, but... nope. I also didn't know how the show ended (years of successful spoiler avoidance, I don't even know how), and the end also kind of underwhelmed me as well.

(SPOILERS follow, for those who want to avoid as I once avoided.)

Act II is definitely weaker. It has some nice songs- I really like "For Good" ("Because I knew you/I have been changed for good," which would make a good Lost finale vid, but moving on)- but none of them really have the punch of "Defying Gravity," the Act I finale. I think the main problem with Act II is that it shifts the story from being a prequel to being a parallel to the Wizard of Oz timeline. Trying to make the pieces fit kinda makes the story go wonky. (I haven't read the book, so I don't know if it also does the parallel timeline?) I kinda think the show would have worked better as a straight prequel- one that sets up the pieces & backstory for the inevitable tragic downfall of Elphaba. It bothered me how in the original Wizard of Oz both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man had been in their enchanted forms for YEARS, but in Wicked they were transformed for all of five minutes before meeting Dorothy. Inconsistencies! Maybe I SHOULD read the book, since it sounds darker & more political? (Just took a look at your book review: "I have never read a book so concerned with fucking shoes before." reminded me of Glinda's "They're just shoes! Let it go!" line. Meta lulz in the show? I do hope so!)

Kendra Kassebaum was a total scene stealer, although I'm not sure that's the correct phrase since she technically is the POV main character, which I also didn't realize, but which was ok because she was AWESOME!

On the whole I definitely enjoyed it! Live theater is always fun and exciting, except when it's awkward, but this wasn't awkward, it was excellent! And I didn't nod off, unlike my friend!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:May 29th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
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The actually RELEVANT parts of the set were awesome, though. I like moving parts! I especially liked the bridge and the side balcony bits. I like when sets create different levels on the stage for actors to move around on.
Yeah, those were really cool.

It has some nice songs- I really like "For Good" ("Because I knew you/I have been changed for good," which would make a good Lost finale vid, but moving on)
Yeah, I liked that song too. It was very sweet for the both of them.

(I haven't read the book, so I don't know if it also does the parallel timeline?)
Yeah, in the last section of the book, which, incidentally, is where the story goes wonky. COINCIDENCE??

It bothered me how in the original Wizard of Oz both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man had been in their enchanted forms for YEARS, but in Wicked they were transformed for all of five minutes before meeting Dorothy. Inconsistencies!
Heh. I liked that in the show even though it made no sense. The book doesn't do that.

Maybe I SHOULD read the book, since it sounds darker & more political?
If you are interested, for sure!

(Just took a look at your book review: "I have never read a book so concerned with fucking shoes before." reminded me of Glinda's "They're just shoes! Let it go!" line. Meta lulz in the show? I do hope so!)
Ha, I loved that line too! Because it, uh, reminded me of that line in my review.

Kendra Kassebaum was a total scene stealer, although I'm not sure that's the correct phrase since she technically is the POV main character, which I also didn't realize, but which was ok because she was AWESOME!
She was!
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From:maidofawesome
Date:May 31st, 2010 04:28 pm (UTC)
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I saw Wicked for the first time in February and LOVED it. I still haven't read the book though, although I do own it. I had a few moments of 'Why do I know this song...?' - mostly Glee, actually.

What I found interesting was that, in the London West End, it's all played in British accents. Glinda was very a well-spoken London girl, which really worked - she kind of sounded like the dark haired one from Coupling whose name I've forgotten. Gina... something. So much so though, that when I watched Chenoweth and Menzel on youtube, it sounded odd. Strange! Oh, but the main munchkin who has the relationship with Elphaba's sister (totally forgotten his name) was Scottish, and that kind of jarred.

But yeah, I loved it, and I'm glad you did too.

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