Last night Steven surprised me with tickets to Wicked. (Spoiler alert for the book and musical!) It is a fantastic musical! I’ve read the book, and it just doesn’t compare to the musical. I mean, Kudos to Gregory Maguire for creativity and imagination, but I never really felt affection for Elphaba while reading the book. I felt sorry for her a few times, and I thought the book was interesting, but not really pleasurable.
Well, the musical changed the book in all the right ways! It turned it into – okay, I hate to say this, but – a feel-good story. Plus, the audience was incredibly enthusiastic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a participative crowd at a musical performance! The second Elphaba walked onstage the first time, the audience went absolutely wild cheering, yelling, and clapping. Elphaba was very likable and witty. The actress had an amazing voice, too! The actress playing Glinda seemed to ham it up a little too much for my taste – was Glinda really that much of a blonde bimbo? – but Steven has seen it in New York and said it was similar there. I loved how they made the Wizard her father (didn’t remember that from the book) and that she didn’t actually die in the end!!! I was surprised! I am also glad that Fiyero was not married, like he was in the book, and I think the omission of the baby was a good idea, too. Then the story could focus on the friendship between Glinda and Elphaba more. Also, in the musical Fiyero turned into the scarecrow, which may have happened in the book, but I can’t remember. (It’s been five years and two kids since I’ve read the book and I think I’ve lost memory cells with each pregnancy.) I thought it was a nice touch to have him turn into a non-aesthetically-pleasing person just like Elphaba. Anyway, the music, dancing, and costumes were great. I need to buy the soundtrack. I thought the ensemble did a great job, and I felt sorry for them having to change costumes to often! The man who played the Wizard is the guy who played the radio station manager on Frasier and also guested on Everybody Loves Raymond. It was fun to see him in this role. Oh, and I loved Madame Morrible! I swear she looked just like Helen Mirren from where I was sitting! At the end, when the cast came out for their bows and of course got a standing ovation plus a lot of shouting from the crowd, they all started dancing and as the curtain went down, Elphaba kept crouching down lower and lower and waving to the crowd. Seemed like a fun group!
OK, first- I’m so glad you finally got to see the musical. It is truly amazing. And the music just rocks! We were going to see this together all those years ago, remember? I wish we would have had the chance! It’s my fave musical ever!!
However, I’m sad you didn’t like the book! I think the book and the musical live in two completely different realms. You are right-on when you said the changes made to the book make the stage version a feel-good story. But there are a lot of interesting and deep questions about politics, government, beauty, power, love, appearances and prejudices in the book. Most of those would not really suit a musical, but I think they’re good topics to think through, nonetheless. And I actually loved Elphaba from the books, maybe because I identify with her.
Side note about Fiero/Scarecrow: In the book Elphaba thinks it’s him, but it’s never revealed as him. Instead we are led to believe that it is just her hopes getting the best of her during her final frenzy.
Amanda, I agree that the book was deep and thought-provoking in all the ways you mentioned. In that way, it was very well-written. The author succeeded in layering so many things in. However, it was a dark book, and a difficult one to get through. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but a musical is meant to be uplifting, and the musical took the book and made it into something uplifting. The book itself is not uplifting, even though it is well-crafted. Does that made sense?