If you're like me, you do mourn the Wicked.
If you're like me, you are enjoying the trend of fairy tales retold: Cameron Dokey's Once Upon a Time novels; Mercedes Lackey's series 500 Kingdoms; Malificent; Ever After High; Phantom of the Mall; Witches Abroad. You like it when storytellers reference a fantasy you love, and give you a different perspective. (Of course, you ignore all the ones you dislike, which we shan't mention here because they don't really exist.)
If you're like me, you remember OZ fondly - both the original series by L. Frank Baum; and the world it became as other stories crept in to add depth to your Oziverse: movies like The Wizard of Oz and Under the Rainbow; the play The Wiz; the book Number of the Beast .
If you're like me, Oz is a haven, a place for believers who need to escape. A place where no one dies or grows old (and no one is born). It is eternal, like a Neverland, or a Heaven. Dorothy is 12 and sings beautifully; Glinda is a calm, goddess-like woman who travels in a bubble; animals can talk; and there is a wonderful spa.
So when you heard that Wicked was OZ from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West, you were intrigued.
If you're like me, you tried to read the book Wicked, but found Gregory Maguire's writing style to be dense and depressing - nothing to do with the glory of OZ. So you shrugged it off.
Then the stage musical came into being. You heard some of the songs - "Defying Gravity"; "You Changed Me for Good" - and you thought, "Hmm. Theater is pretty awesome. Many of my friends like the show. All right. Let's go see the play."
I'd better put in a disclaimer here. This review (diatribe, soapbox) is not about the players, it is about the play. "The play's the thing" which to my heart such sorrow did bring.
And yes, this review contains some spoilers.
I saw Wicked at the Buell Theater in Colorado, in 2015. The performers did an excellent job. The set was astounding. The amount of tech work had to be huge. Kudos to everyone involved.
Except for the writers. And since I don't know how closely the play follows the book, I don't know whether to name G. Maguire or Stephen Schwartz & Winnie Holzman as the reason for my dismay. Maybe it was a combination. So I will simply use the title Author.
In my opinion, Author tried to destroy OZ. In writing Wicked, (s)he exchanged one malicious person and one wise woman for a race of vapid, mean, spiteful, selfish, nasty, horrible Ozians; and one (maybe two) persons trying to find herself(s).
Not a fair exchange at all.
And how distressing to be so transformed. Rather like the animals losing their voices, or being forced to fly.
It's true. Humans can be judgmental, scared, petty, conniving, finger pointing, blindly following, fear-based creatures. Of course, that's not all of us. Many of us can take responsibility and think for ourselves.
But more relevantly, OZ is not Earth, and Ozites (or Ozmites) are not humans.
Perhaps the original story was a political satire. Maybe it was the first American Fairy Tale. It might have been simply a story for children. Regardless, Munchkins, Winkies, Quadlings, Gillikans, and other Ozites do not have the same fears, needs, or morality that humans do. Perhaps the closest Ozites would come to humans are the human child -- open and wide-eyed, trusting in the awesomeness of Wizards, and believing in a pure division between Good Witches and Wicked ones.
The play Wicked appears to be a melodrama based on infidelity and a green potion. It certainly displayed the baseness of human nature. Did any one of the Ozians evolve into a better being than she started? Not that I could see. Everyone seems happy to be dragged into the fear-based world of evil animals and Wicked Witches. Even Glinda, who's original motives were pure and generally kind, became driven by fear and sorrow.
Oh, wait. I am wrong. One person evolves - Fiyero stands up for his heart. Yay! And is gruesomely executed for it. (What?!)
Worst of all, even though Author gave Elphaba a persecuted and tragic history, the supposed heroine never triumphed. Despite her battle cry of being unlimited, I never felt she truly found herself, or her center. I never felt happy for her. I'm not even sure Elphaba ever knew what she wanted. I think she would have been better off as the Witch who went after what she wanted by choice, than as the hunted animal rights activist who made an aborted effort to right some wrongs.
To me, it seemed all Elphaba did was run away and regret her choices.
If you're like me, you mourn the play Wicked. But because you are more "Ozite" than "Ozian", you will always believe that Oz is a special world, suitable for children, comforting to the lost, and home for humans who wish to be more. Hopefully, Elphaba found her way there. And finally feels beautiful. Brighter.
I hope you have a fantastical day!