After discovering the musical, I of course read the book on which the musical is based, Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This is a great book and I can’t wait to read it again, because I don’t think I was mature enough to really grasp it and also I think that is the kind of book that gets better the more you read it, because it’s so full of symbolism and imagery, of metaphor and so many lessons and observations about life, politics, religion, and sexuality. There are also two more books in the series, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men, neither of which I’ve read yet, but I look forward to once I’ve re-read Wicked.
After reading the book, I at first felt that the musical didn’t quite hold up to it, and there are many people of that opinion. However, after having a lot of time away from the two and experiencing the musical again, I feel that the two are completely seperate entities. I feel that musical is based on the novel, but is more of a direct prequel to The Wizard of Oz. It ties the two together beautifully, and though it doesn’t contain the same powerful, direct and dark imagery from the novel, it certainly expresses the same core messages of the perception of good and evil. Though it doesn’t touch directly on religion or sexuality the way the novel does, it’s also important to remember that the musical is a completely new and seperate production from the novel, it’s merely based upon it. I feel that the novel and the musical complement one another perfectly, and both are full of meaning and truth. I would recommend that anyone who has seen or heard the musical read the book, and vise versa.
I’m also excited about the new soundtrack. The Original Broadway Cast recordings have been re-released in a two disc digipak (and I do love digipaks) set. The first disc is the original soundtrack, and the second disc has recordings from various productions of Wicked from around the world, and a remix of Defying Gravity. Also, it’s just so beautifully formatted, and I love a well-formatted album.
The music of Wicked really has a magical feel, something about the instruments used just fits perfectly for Oz. I’m really not a huge fan of the original film The Wizard of Oz, but Wicked is just outstanding. I think after seeing/hearing Wicked or reading the novel, anyone would probably hold a grudge against The Wizard of Oz, and hate seeing the characters they now love marred.
If you’ve never seen anything from Wicked, I would suggest starting with Defying Gravity, there have been numerous performances of the song on late night shows and variety programs, the first I saw was the performance at the Tony Awards. Popular is a hilarious song with fantastic lyrics, and I love seeing Kirstin Chenoweth as Galinda, I just think she does such an outstanding job in that role. Another of my favorites is No One Mourns the Wicked, the song which opens the show, and the climactic No Good Deed (followed by it’s reprise, Mach of the Witch Hunters). Really, ever song is great, and one of my favorite’s, Wicked Witch of the East, isn’t included on the soundtrack but there are live recordings of the original cast on YouTube. It’s a great song that really shows Michelle Federer’s (who originated the role of Nessarose) talent, I wish there were a high quality recording of the song.
Well, that’s really all I have on my mind at the moment, I’d definitely recommend checking out Wicked, both the musical and the novel, if you haven’t already. Both are thought-provoking, emotional, hilarious, and have an air of magic and sophistication that really pull a viewer in and give them a lot to think about. That’s probably the best thing about Wicked: you take something away from it. You walk away with it with a question or an observation about humanity, it changes your attitude or improves it, it at very least provokes thought, and that’s really the best you can ask for in a novel or a production.