Wicked: Feeling Like I’m Defying Gravity

Anaum Hussain, Staff Writer

   At 7:00 PM on Sunday, March 6th during my first time at the Adrienne Archt Center for Performing Arts, I learned two things. One, Wicked is well-deserved of its reputation as one of the greatest musicals of all time. Second, Wicked is an experience that cannot be replicated on a cast recording. 

   The story is a common fairy tale turned on its head. The Wizard of Oz… but from the perspective of The Wicked Witch of The West. We learn about how our heroine, Elphaba Thropp (Lissa DeGuzman), became the so-called Wicked Witch Of The West. And we learn that maybe she wasn’t so Wicked after all. The other main characters are Galinda Upland (Supposed to be Jennafer Newberry, but the actress I saw was Jackie Raye), who we meet while Elphaba is at school and they accidentally are forced to room together. She becomes Glinda The Good Witch, and is Elphaba’s foil, and Fiyero Tigelaar (Christian Thompson), the charming prince who skates through life up until the time skip before the second act, where he has transformed into an upstanding captain of the guard with incredibly strong principles. We soon discover that Elphaba is a brilliant character with a strong moral compass that would not allow her to fall in line with Ozian society. The truth is, she isn’t really as wicked as the stories and the Ozian people claim. Elphaba was only trying to do the right thing, because the so-called Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Timothy Shew) has been subjugating animals and forcing them to forget how to speak. 

   That’s right. The main villain of the show is the Wizard of Oz. Plot twist! 

   I thought I knew the whole story. I really did! I read the Wikipedia page, I went through the comments on lyric videos, I’ve been a fan of this musical since sixth grade! And still, I was absolutely blown away with things I didn’t expect. Like during “Defying Gravity”, which is, in my opinion, the best song in the show. I didn’t realize that the song took place while Elphaba and Glinda had barricaded themselves inside the Wizard’s chamber! As my friends can confirm, during intermission the first thing I said was “‘Defying Gravity’ live is a spiritual experience.” And even looking back on it, I still feel that absolute wonderment of Elphaba genuinely seeming to fly. 

   I’ve also discovered that all the Glinda songs get ten times better knowing how she moves during them. “Popular” was an absolute joy to watch. The way Glinda just flops on the floor whenever Elphaba denies her was absolutely hilarious, the entire theater broke out into hysterics every time it happened. I even saw a little girl mimicking it after the show! And with the songs I didn’t really think much of on the soundtrack like Wonderful or As Long As You’re Mine were immensely improved by seeing them the way they were meant to, on stage. Wonderful is genuinely one of my favorites now after seeing the way the Wizard dances during it. As Junior Isabella Chavez says, “…the musical itself was SUPER good with staging. I mean this in the sense that every scene you could indicate exactly where the actors were. The directors did a great job of lighting as well to showcase the moods and emotions of the characters!”

   But my absolute favorite part about the show? The storyline. I loved every second of it. Junior Jessica Lipman says “I like how it shows the story of friendship and conflict with [Elphaba and Glinda] and how it deals with problems in the real world,” and I couldn’t agree more. Elphaba and Glinda are foils in every sense of the word. They’re both from rich families, but Elphaba’s father hates her while Glinda has had everything she could ever want. And in the end, Elphaba chooses to throw away everything she ever wanted for her principles while Glinda chooses to, in Elphaba’s words, “…grovel in submission, to feed your own ambition!” And at the end of the day, that’s what leads Elphaba to happiness and Glinda to the sadness they feel at the end of the story. Glinda eventually forces the Wizard out, choosing to truly become Glinda the Good and lead Oz the right way, while Elphaba fakes her own death and runs off with Fiyero to their happy ending. But Glinda never knows that Fiyero and Elphaba survived, and must live with her grief as she leads Oz. 

   And that’s really what’s so brilliant about Wicked. The way they make you care about the characters and their story so much that you forget you’ve been in the theater for three hours. (Though, tip, maybe don’t take the 7:00 show on Sunday. You will be so sleepy throughout the school day.)

   “No wizard that there is or was / Is ever gonna bring me down!” Is one of the most iconic lyrics in the show, and it perfectly encapsulates how I feel after watching it. It’s like walking on air! I feel like it genuinely deserves something higher than 10/10. Wicked is… well, Wicked! Unfortunately, I could only get tickets for the final show, but definitely check it out next time the show comes around here!