My wife got tickets to Wicked for her birthday a couple of months ago and last weekend we finally went. My wife has seen Wicked a few times. Once on Broadway and another time just after we started dating. She’s been wanting me to see it for a long time now.
I have to be honest, I feel like there’s been so much hype, there’s no way this musical could possibly live up to it. Just a few days before we went, one of my coworkers went. He had never seen it, and he loved it.
So we went.
Overall, I had two impressions. The first was, “Man, this is loud.” We were at the back of the mezzanine. Not awesome seats, but better than we expected. They’re doing construction next to the theater, so the mezzanine didn’t have handicap access and somehow we got those seats, so we had extra leg room. And one of our seats was a double-wide for some reason, so we got to sit right next to each other like it was a love-seat. But we were still up near the top, so I have to think that aided in the volume. And this a Broadway tour. Those actors have to be powerful enough to be heard in some larger settings, so in a smaller setting they’d just blow us away. Unfortunately, that meant that in full chorus numbers, you couldn’t understand everything they were saying.
The second was more about the writing. There were a lot of little funny lines or moments, both in the music and in the dialogue, which really help set the tone. I think some of the best examples of this are What is This Feeling? and Popular. The former seems, musically at least, like something I’ve heard before. And it’s one of the highlights of the first act for me. The latter was better live than the soundtrack my wife has – although part of that could be that I can’t really stand Kristin Chenoweth.
Speaking of the soundtrack, both seeing it live and listening to the soundtrack while I put my thoughts together here, I think Nathan Lane would have made a great wizard. But that’s just me. And I’m not a casting director. But I’m not surprised they didn’t get him (even if they asked). Pretty much all of his numbers are forgettable. The story is about the witches, and the wizard is just there as a supporting character. Wonderful at least has a couple good instrumental bits.
Dancing Through Life had some good musical moments, which were very reminiscent of some great ’80s pop rock, but much of the song is just kind of bland. The Wizard and I has a couple good melodic lines, but is also largely forgettable.
The first act ends with Defying Gravity, which is good. I get why it’s one of the “singles” of the soundtrack. But it really is great live. The light show and visuals make the whole number spectacular. Although the choreography was rather bland. But I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it due to the limitations of a touring production which might not know what it’s venue’s could accommodate.
The highlight of the second act (and, for me, the whole play) was As Long As You’re Mine. I don’t actually care much for Fiyero, but this song makes me actually care about Elphaba’s relationship with him. The song is straight out of the ’80s and has some of the best harmony in the whole play.
I don’t think Wicked quite lived up to the hype. It’s really good, but I didn’t think it was amazing. But the second act is definitely better than the first. Maybe because of the story, which I didn’t anticipate.
And while the musical is enjoyable by itself, I think it’s better if you’ve seen The Wizard of Oz. The first act is a prequel to that classic film, and the second act runs concurrently to it. If you watch Wicked first, though, it spoils some things for you. I think The Wizard of Oz is a classic and has cultural merit, but it is by no means my favorite film. And I think everyone should see them both at least once.
Now I kind of want to go see this: