This month was an amazing month! May is always so busy. My father, my mother, and my birthdays are all in it, as well as Mother’s Day. So, it’s pretty busy, but what makes it amazing is that every other year the musical production of Wicked comes to the Orpheum here in Omaha. They normally play from May and into June and every other year it is my birthday present to myself as I just adore it. I get to share my experiences with you here on my blog.
While I’m no theatre critic I believe that there is always some minor improvement in any live theatre show. I also wanted to share my experience at the theatre and give you most likely one of many Wicked musical reviews.
Warning! There will be spoilers in this section. I will put a no spoiler short synopsis at the beginning for those who don’t want all the details. So, in order to get everyone up to speed, I’m going to give a synopsis of both Wicked and The Wizard of OZ. Those of you who are already familiar with Dorothy’s story can skip down to the Wicked synopsis.
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
No Spoiler Synopsis
Dorothy, an orphaned Kansas City farm girl, and her dog Toto get swept away by a tornado to the land of Oz. Wishing to return home, she travels the Yellow Brick Road in search of the Emerald City. On the way, she is joined by a Scarecrow who wants a brain, a Tin Man who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wants courage whom all decide to follow Dorothy to the Emerald City. However, the Wicked Witch of the West is hot on their trails as she tries to get the Ruby Slippers that Glinda the Good Witch of the North gifted Dorothy.
We set the scene in Kansas where Almira Gulch, a very severe and unpleasant woman who owns half the county, is trying to get Dorothy’s dog Toto taken away for biting her. She succeeds, but Toto escapes from the wicker basket he’s been put in on the back of Almira Gulch’s bicycle. Dorothy reunites with Toto and then she decides that they need to run away.
As she’s leaving the weather changes. She makes it back just in time for a tornado to lift the house, with Dorothy and Toto in it. Dorothy awakens to find she’s in the land of Oz. A mysterious place with a yellow brick road. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, thanks Dorothy for getting rid of the Wicked Witch of the East, and freeing Munchkinland from her tyranny, by dropping a house on top of her. To reward Dorothy, Glinda gives Dorothy the Wicked Witch of the East’s ruby red slippers.
The Wicked Witch of the West appears on the scene, demanding the Wicked Witch of the East’s slippers, as she was the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister. Glinda refuses and after swearing revenge on Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West goes away. After gaining the gratitude of all the munchkins in a lively song Dorothy sets out for the Emerald City, where the Wizard of Oz lives so that she might return home.
The first of her companions that she meets is the Scarecrow, who wants more than just hanging around in fields all day. Dorothy gets him down and after a dance and song continue on the way to the Emerald City with the Scarecrow tagging along to see if the Wizard will give him a brain. The second companion is the Tin Man, who has rusted over due to a sudden rain. After oiling him up and getting him mobile they continue on their way with a new companion who wants a heart. The third companion is the Cowardly Lion, who just wants some courage.
They fend off several attempts from the Wicked Witch of the West as well as some angry apple trees. The Wicked Witch tries to put them into an enchanted sleep right before they get to the Emerald City but is foiled by Glinda. After a very warm welcome from the citizens of the Emerald City and being threatened once again by the Wicked Witch they get to see the Wizard, who seems to be a disembodied head with a booming voice similar to thunder.
The Wizard of Oz demands that they bring him the Wicked Witch’s broom and he will consider granting their requests. On the way to the castle, Dorothy and Toto are captured by a group of flying monkeys, who work for the Wicked Witch. Dorothy refuses to remove the shoes and the Wicked Witch finds that she cannot touch them until Dorothy is dead.
Toto manages to escape and bring help in the form of Dorothy’s companions. They just manage to get her out and try to escape when blocked by the Wicked Witch who the sets the Scarecrow alight. Dorothy grabs a bucket of water and attempts to put the Scarecrow out, getting the Wicked Witch instead. To Dorothy’s surprise, the Wicked Witch melts. Everyone in the castle is delighted that she is now dead and happily give Dorothy the broomstick.
They return to the Wizard who dismisses them by saying they should come back tomorrow. Toto manages to reveal that the great and powerful Wizard of Oz is a man using parlor tricks to pretend to be a great wizard. He is also from Kansas and managed to get to Oz via hot air balloon. He gives the Scarecrow a diploma, the Tin Man a heart clock, and the Cowardly Lion a medal of courage. The Wizard says that Dorothy can come with him in his hot air balloon back to Kansas as he is returning home.
Things go awry and the balloon takes off before Dorothy is inside it. Glinda comes to the rescue once again and tells Dorothy to tap her heels and repeat the phrase, “There’s no place like home”. Dorothy finds herself waking up surrounded by her aunt and uncle. They seem to think it was a dream, but she believes it was real.
No Spoiler Synopsis
Wicked is about the untold story of the witches of Oz and how their time in school shaped their lives forever. This is the backstory for Glinda the Good, Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East. This Broadway Musical shows that The Wizard of Oz was just one side of the story.
It is the story of an unlikely friendship between Glinda, a popular blonde girl, and Elphaba, an outcast because of the color of her skin, both sorcery students at Shiz University. After going to the Emerald City and meeting the Wizard their paths diverge with Glinda wanting to still be popular and being seduced by power and Elphaba sticking to who she is and what she knows is right. This divergence has unexpected consequences for the future of Oz and eventually allows them to fill the roles of Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
To read the full Wicked synopsis please click here. It was a little too long for this review. Let me know if you’d read a 4,000-5,000 word article because that is what it was shaping up to be.
There is always a difference between music that’s in a recording studio and live on stage where people have to move around and act to an audience. The original cast recording of Wicked is something that I will always treasure. You get the emotions very clearly, at least in my case, but there’s always so much left out that can only be experienced when you go see a show live.
You sit in your seats at the theatre, taking care not to trip over anything if you happen to be wearing heels. Everyone slowly finds their way around and the auditorium slowly fills up.
You can feel the anticipation in the air and it slowly rises as it gets closer to curtain time. Then suddenly, the lights go down and the orchestra starts up. That first note immediately transports you away from the crowded theatre and into a land of enchantment.
That being said when I went to see Wicked 2 years ago they had problems with their sound system. The chorus singers were up too loud while the main characters weren’t loud enough. That did not happen this time for which I am very glad.
Also, it’s my belief that you can only get a true experience like this in a live theatre setting. Recordings of the show are all well and good, but there’s just something extra of sitting in a seat and being completely immersed in the story taking place in front of you.
I adore Wicked! It is one of my favorite musical performances. I have all the songs memorized and remember more of the dialogue every time I see it. They always seem to find the perfect pair in both Glinda and Elphaba. They are probably the 2 hardest characters to cast. Glinda has to be bubbly and very much a soprano while Elphaba has to be passionate, soft, but powerful in her vocal chords.
This time going to see it was wonderful, as usual. The singing was a little off, but that’s more to my taste than anything else. It didn’t detract from the play or the story, but the vocals were a little off. The woman they chose for Elphaba had the range and the power needed, but not the softness that’s required for some songs. In the same vein while Glinda was bubbly she didn’t seem to be able to hold the high notes as long as she should.
Not that I’m going to judge. I would probably freeze as soon as I saw so many eyes on me. I have social anxiety to the extreme and I do not do well when being observed by 1 person let alone thousands.
The acting was wonderful. The set was also pretty much the same as the last couple of times. All in all another wonderful performance that I wish I could just replay whenever I felt like it.
Wicked: The Movie?
One of the things that I am most excited about for the future is that Wicked is set to come to the big screen in December 2019. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen, but I do know that in order for it to get outstanding reviews and people coming back to watch it that it has to be epic.
Let me put it to you this way: Orpheum Theatre can seat 2,600 people. For a 7:30 showing on a Tuesday the theatre was at least 3/4ths of the way full if not more. That means that for a single showing 1,950 people showed up in the middle of the week. Multiply that by the 24 showings they are doing and you get a grand total of 46,800 people if they didn’t sell out any of the showings. That is 1 town out of the hundreds they perform at. Now that’s a lot of people they influence.
So, there you have it. It may not be much of a review, but it’s my thoughts on the play. Have you seen Wicked? What were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.