When I was in grade 5, my class and I watched this movie in school as a Christmas treat. It was about this young girl, who is magically transported to the world of Oz with her dog. She has killed the wicked witch and finds herself wearing the ruby shoes. Aided by the scarecrow, the tin man and the cowardly lion, the foursome make a trip to see the wizard of Oz. Yep, the movie is The Wizard of Oz, and watching this movie in the 80s was like taking a trip down on a magic carpet to a land of fantasy and all. The witches, the flying monkeys, the scary Wizard, the three friends and toto, captivated us all.
Somehow, that movie has stuck with me for the longest of time, and even today, unashamedly, I watch The Wizard of Oz at least once in a year. I can take myself back to grade 5, when every single child’s imagination was stirred up. I remember my friends and I talking about meeting the Wizard and what we would request of him.
It was with that sense of nostalgia and love for the movie that I was able to convince my sister to join me to watch Wicked the Musical.
Wicked the Musical
Wicked the Musical is basically about two friends, Elphaba and Galinda, and how they grow up and part ways. Elphaba is born with a green skin and so that sets her up for bullying and ridicule. She is grossly misunderstood by everyone and so that makes her angry and frustrated. We eventually see how a good person becomes evil, in other words how Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West. Essentially, it’s about Good versus Evil.
The musical was such a mesmerising experience that I knew I had to read the book which I bought the very next day. As is usually the case with most movies, in this case a musical play, the book is so much more deep and detailed.
Reading Wicked requires a lot of patience and an ability to grasp the fantastical concepts and ideas portrayed by the author Gregory Maguire. Maguire, an American, had moved to London to write the book. As he talks about his experience in the introduction, there was something about the English writers that inspired him to write Wicked. He acknowledges the American ideas in the book but acknowledges that all his ideas were born in London.
Part One: Munchkinlanders
We do get a very detailed look into how Elphaba was born in Munchkinland, and how her parents react to her green skin. In contrast, her sister, Nessarose, is the complete opposite with her pretty pink looks and becomes the favourite of everyone. Elphaba is misunderstood for most of her life and is often teased and bullied.
Part Two: Gillikin
Fast forward sixteen years, Elphaba and Galinda (she later becomes Glinda) end up as roommates and after some initial hesitations with each other, they eventually become friends. They attend classes together, and get involved with the whole animal rights issues. Also, Elphaba has a crush on a boy, Boq, who in turn has a crush on Galinda. With the murder of their professor, their friendship is shaken, and so decide to visit the Wizard of Oz to help them out with the animal rights issues. The Wizard dismisses their case and Galinda returns home, while Elphaba stays behind.
Part Three: City Of Emeralds
Five years later, we see Elphaba have a love connection with Fiyero, who she had met in university. They fall in love, and she finally feels she is happy in life. However, her life is changed when she is unable to murder a certain someone, and her lover Fiyero is instead arrested and presumably killed. Elphaba flees and is taken under by another woman called Yackle.
Part Four: In the Vinkus
Six years later, Elphaba goes to Vinkus to meet the family of Fiyero. Things don’t go down too well, and she eventually hears about her sister Nessarose. Elphaba goes back to Munchkinland to find out her sister has become a witch (Wicked Witch of the East, upon whom the house falls in The Wizard of Oz). Her sister promises Elphaba the silver shoes after she dies.
Part Five: The Murder and Its Afterlife
Seven years later, the house falls on Nessarose. Dorothy Gale is considered guilty. Elphaba meets with Glinda after a decade, but that friendship turns sour as soon as she finds out that Glinda had asked Dorothy to keep the silver shoes she’s wearing. Dorothy and her friends are refused their request go back to Kansas, and so Elphaba finds out they are coming to kill her instead. Interestingly, when Dorothy confronts Elphaba, she tells her that she’s here to apologize for killing Elphaba’s sister, but Elphaba is enraged and attempts to put Dorothy on fire. The rest as we all know, is how Dorothy innocently throws water on the witch, and she melts away.
The book ends with a teaser, suggesting that Elphaba will eventually rise out of the ashes.
As you can see, the book is much more detailed with lots more characters that was not depicted in the musical, which makes sense. The book does ask the readers to have an open mind to allow them to take in all the magical and fantasy aspects of the story- we have a goat that talks. I would think Wicked would appeal the most to those who have a lot of love for The Wizard of Oz and want to know more about the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West.
As for me, I would rather the Wicked Musical once again than read the book.