Taking a reverse-trip down the yellow brick road to a world at first without Dorothy, and before the Wicked Witch was ever Wicked, shed a much brighter light in the world of musicals. My inner-child’s excitement rose with every pulse of each flash and glow that doused the MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands in green, and it was a privilege to have adored WICKED in all of its quirky and award-winning glory.
But more imperatively, the revisitations of the audience’s innocence and adolescence were astutely matched by the lessons in earnestness, morality, and irony. I’ll explain.
Lost in the depths of the fascination of flying monkeys, the perfectly-stitched silk gowns, and the kaleidoscopic resonances of magic, laid the drone of a simple yet artful inquest; weighing the good in evil, against the evil in good.
Sure, there were inferences of adultery, ethnic cleansing, stereotyping, civil disobedience, political propaganda, murder, and corruption where power is inherited, peppered throughout but they all point toward the direction of good versus wicked characteristics that make up WICKED.
Jacqueline Hughes did impeccably well to inject Elphaba’s character with the needed acidic wit. Elphaba, of course, had her social life marred by the stigmatisation of her skin colour (ahem!), and finds comfort and solace in an initially absurd friendship with Glinda, who was correctly drenched in the eloquence of Carly Anderson.
“…herein lies the imperative message of the production; perceptions of Goodness and Wickedness; and how true goodness could only be achieved in being true to oneself…”
If all you do is shine someone in bad light, maybe they’d start believing they were actually Wicked, and Elphaba’s character development showed just that. Elphaba’s virtue and true gift of magical powers were all that she was blessed with, but was taken advantage of by the two people who seemingly were the only ones believing in her; Madame Morrible, and The Wizard of Oz.
The two, as it is later revealed, are the first form of evil the audience is presented with; as frauds and phonies, using the gifts of Elphaba’s for no good.
Throwing Elphaba further into the slimy trenches of ostracism, Elphaba and Glinda are then given a choice; to go along with the Wizard’s plans and get drunk on the prestige and honour that came with? Or to strike out on their own and face each day in c’est la vie warfare?
Herein lies the imperative message of the production; perceptions of Goodness and Wickedness; and how true goodness could only be achieved in being true to oneself; a message that reflects the ambitions of today’s world.
Elphaba, as she would, seeks her own, while Glinda, as she would, fed her self-serving and insatiable desire for attention.
The Wicked Witch of the West was now Elphaba’s alias; her story was embellished, mythologized, and retold, and her fall in popularity was matched by Glinda’s rise as role of heroine.
But Glinda knows the truth of the whole charade, and maintains a cloak-and-dagger friendship with Elphaba; portrayed in scintillating and hanky-grabbingly beautiful duets like What Is This Feeling, and the climactic Defying Gravity.
For Good, however, was the enchanting duet that must have left the audience damn near close to tears.
“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better,
because I knew you, I have been changed for Good”
In a production that is littered with messages and pick-ups, the one take-away should be the perils and then the acceptance of what the society throws and shines on you, even if for being Wicked.
I’ll tell you what I know of WICKED’s accolades; they’ve won over 100 major international awards, including three Tony Awards a Grammy Award, two Olivier Awards in the UK, six Helpmann Awards in Australia and six Drama Desk Awards on Broadway. Worldwide, the musical phenomenon has grossed $4 Billion (US Dollars) in global ticket sales to date and has already been seen by 50 million people.
There should be no other way to review WICKED, but if people insisted on doing it, I hope they made sure it was an ode dressed in confetti, and with trumpets accompanying. WICKED truly is the musical production of and for the ages.