I went with a friend to see “Wicked” yesterday at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. I’d been waiting years to see the show (I’d wanted to catch it back in the early 2000s when Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth were originating the roles of Elphaba and Galinda, but didn’t manage to do so). Regardless, I enjoyed a number of things: the show’s vibrant costuming, Eden Epinosa’s performance as Elphaba, the spirited dancing on the part of the cast, etc.
Oddly enough, I also found myself scrutinizing the show’s technical minutae as well. I’d look for a cast member to hook Galinda into her circular bubbly lifting piece. I’d try to spot langolier mike positioning on the cast members. I’d predict where Elphaba would be rising in “Defying Gravity.” I’d hypothesize how many costume changers the chorus would need for seemingly instantaneous wig/tight/garment changes. A little obsessive? Perhaps. However, I think as a performer, I remain fascinated by all the working parts of a show.
Also, I couldn’t help but feel my English major tendencies rising up as I took in the narrative. I’d read the entire Gregory Maguire trilogy over the past few years and knew that liberties would be taken, but there were a couple of moments where I was absolutely dumbfounded. Moment #1: The scene where NessaRose attacks Boq. First off, I’m not sure why the song never made it to the CD, and would guess that it was added later? Secondly, Boq’s transformation by Elphaba into the Tin Woodman after Nessa’s attack felt forced and utterly random. It was more of a “Let’s entertain the audience with this visual gag” than an acknowledgement of how truly sinister Nessa’s motives were. If anything, it took away from her murderous intentions. The scene was extremely dark, which was in keeping with the dark and moral murkiness of the book (although that scene certainly wasn’t in the text). Moment #2: Fiyero as the Scarecrow. I don’t know if there are words to describe how I felt at that moment. Maybe, just maybe, if I hadn’t read the G. Maguire and the bulk of the Oz series of books, I wouldn’t have minded as much, but really???? I appreciate the happy ending tendencies of musical theatre, but I really think that ending would have been more resonant without a tidy wrap-up. It could have been a well played out tragedy–the greatest of us, she who was actually selfless and cared, has fallen.
Regardless, I enjoyed the show, and couldn’t resist purchasing a pair of Ozonian green glasses. My friend snapped a pic of me in front of a Wicked wall mural: