By now you’re probably bored of hearing about what I got for my birthday, but this is last time I’ll mention it, honest! (Well, until next year anyway…)
So alongside my kitchen gadgets, I was also given tickets to see the musical Wicked in London.
Wicked goes back before the events of The Wizard of Oz and tells the tale Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, and how the two came to be known as such. Both stories are books originally, and it is amazing how Wicked’s narrative weaves seamlessly around the story of The Wizard of Oz, despite the fact the were written 90 years apart.
The stage is always ablaze with colour, even if in many cases that colour is shades of green. It’s quite interesting really as green is a colour synonymous with optimism and positivity, and yet throughout the play it is associated with negative emotions and fear – from the university children screaming when the see Elphaba’s green complextion, to the green-clad citizens of the Emerald City chasing her out of town.
The show begins following Elphaba’s death – everyone is celebrating the demise of the Wicked Witch until someone asks Glinda if it’s true they used to be friends. Flashback a few years, and we see three girls entering Shiz Univeristy; two sisters who are both very lonely despite having each other, and another brimming confidence and ready to take on the world.
For me, the story of Elphaba and her disabled sister Nessarose was the most interesting element of the musical. Let’s not forget, these are the girls that became the Wicked Witches of the West and East respectively, but the journeys that lead them to titles (Nessarose’s in particular) are nothing short of heartbreaking; while Elphaba is shunned and exiled firstly due to her colouring and later due to her powers, Nessarose gains her reputation for wickedness through truly a human emotion, she fears being left alone in her chair, and so to ensure this doesn’t happen she uses her title as Governor of Munchkinland to strip the munchkins of their rights and freedom.
Praise must go to Emma Hatton who played Elphaba, she captured her journey from a gawky teenager well aware that people don’t like her, to a confident and powerful sorceress brilliantly. The relationship between Elphaba and Glinda is easily relatable, and both Hatton and Savannah Stevenson (Glinda) do a brilliant job showing how these two girls grow into women, while one witch takes slightly longer to learn how to use her powers (and I don’t mean magical powers) for good than the other, both journeys ultimately conclude with them deciding to do their best not for themselves, but for Oz.
Wicked is a musical full of colour and fun, while at the same time showing the audience how being different isn’t a bad thing, and how the truth and lies and can shape the future in ways you couldn’t anticipate.
Not to mention, after watching it, you’ll see The Wizard of Oz in a very different light – I know I do now.