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I guess I just like liking things

It certainly was, kid from The Incredibles, it certainly was.

It certainly was, kid from The Incredibles, it certainly was.

We saw a performance of Wicked over the weekend, a first for me and a second time for my wife. Though she had seen it before she wasn’t terribly excited to see it the second time, mostly because the first performance had Idina Menzel, and it’s all downhill from there. I had mixed feelings about going (stemming from both “not a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz” and “retconning an evil character into not-really-evil bugs me” reasons), but I had heard a lot of good things about it, so when the opportunity came up I figured we should go.

I’m glad I went.

I had only seen two live musicals before this one, Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables. Neither of them were on Broadway, but I thought they were both pretty great (in fact, I saw Phantom twice). It takes a little work for me to get over the “we’re putting on a show!” feel that seems to be built-in to live musicals, but I try to focus on the story and the presentation and I do all right.  I was a theater major for a semester in college and acted in several plays, so the staging of these things fascinate me. I’d probably get as much enjoyment out of a behind-the-scenes tour as I do the actual performance, honestly.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, showing how the Wicked Witch of the West came to be who she was. She grows up green, has trouble fitting in because of it, goes to college and rooms with Glinda the Good Witch, finds a cause she believes in, and even meets a boy. And from there it’s nothing but trouble.

I was surprised by the intricacy of the plot. I was expecting more of a straightforward Anakin-turns-into-Darth-Vader thing, I guess, but there were several ties to the original movie that I felt I should have seen coming but were nice touches that fleshed things out more. As I understand it, the musical differs from the book in a few major ways, making Elphaba less evil, more misunderstood.

Oh, and the witch’s name is one of my favorite little bits, but I didn’t know it until I looked it up afterwards. “Elphaba” comes from the phonetics of the original Oz author’s initials: L. Frank Baum -> LFB -> El-pha-ba. I don’t know, I like it. She didn’t have a name in the movie, and I thought this was a neat way to get her one.

My problem after seeing this, though, is I can’t reconcile the histories presented in the original movie, this story, and Oz the Great and Powerful. You have to choose either Wicked or Oz as the companion to The Wizard of Oz, I don’t think there’s a way to make it work with all three. I’m more inclined to take the Wicked/Wizard pairing myself, as it seems more likely and makes for a better story. I think bits of Oz would work as further backstory to Wicked, but then I realize I’m putting way too much effort into this, and I haven’t even begun to include Tin Man, The Wiz, or The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz.

Seeing the musical made me want to rewatch The Wizard of Oz, since it’s been long enough ago that I kind of forgot it, too, was a musical. I also kind of want to read the book Wicked, but I know that’s unlikely since I rarely read anymore (because I am a terrible person).

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