'Wicked' like you've never seen it before
Wicked is a musical that never gets old. It's not just the sweet songs we can't stop humming, the lovable characters we can't forget, or the colorful costumes and fantastic stage props we wish were part of our reality. And it's not just the thrill of live and unique performances by globally renowned actors either.
It's because Wicked enchants and mesmerizes on so many levels; your appreciation deepens every time. If once it was all “Defying Gravity,” perhaps now audiences will discern that it is as much about bullying, fake news, dictators, and the politics of today.
Wicked performs at The Theatre of Solaire Resort and Casino from February 2 to March 5, 2017 with an international touring cast from the UK that includes:
- Jacqueline Hughes as Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West
- Carly Anderson as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South
- Bradley Jaden as Prince Fiyero
- Steven Pinder as The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond
- Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible
- Iddon Jones as Boq
- Emily Shaw as Nessarose
- Jodie Steele as an alternate Elphaba
Levels of appreciation
When the first international production of Wicked first performed in Manila in 2014, many who flocked to the sold out shows had in their minds on Idina Menzel's original rendition of the musical's signature hit “Defying Gravity.” The song has been made more famous by its repeated features on the hit TV series Glee. Many had never seen the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland upon which the musical builds upon and had never read the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum of the same name.
When Wicked returns to the Philippines in February 2017, audiences do so in a world vastly different, where bigots and bullies are emboldened by populist leaders. This time, viewers may discern what lies at the heart of the syrupy songs fans love and the lavish stage spectacles that is Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's much-loved musical – the subversive political allegory of authored by novelist Gregory Maguire.
There is the bigotry, bullying, mob mentality, and racism against the green-skinned Elphaba. There is the scapegoating and silencing of minorities such as Doctor Dillamond, who is, aptly enough, a talking goat. There is the fake news, fear mongering, revisionist history, and cult of personality propagated by Madame Morrible, press secretary for The Wizard and headmistress of Shiz University. There is the complicity of the ruling class who benefit from the status quo, personified by the blonde and beautiful Glinda. There is the thuggery and intimidation perpetrated by the wizard's minions, the winged monkeys. And there is the murder, oppression, and tyranny justified as collateral damage for the new world order by The Wizard.
There is also the savvy retelling of a classic fairy tale from a villain's point of view, a formula wonderfully exemplified by Wicked's championing of the Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West. It has since been copied by the likes of Frozen, the 2013 retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, and Maleficent, the 2014 retelling of Disney's version of the Brothers Grimm's Sleeping Beauty.
There is the interest in Wicked as a prequel to Wizard of Oz that explains the origins of the various characters: How the Scarecrow was once the handsome Prince Fiyero, the true love of Elphaba. How the Tin Man was once a munchkin named Boq with an unrequited love for Glinda. And how Elphaba and Glinda, once room mates at Shiz University, became seemingly mortal enemies.
There is the sheer enjoyment of witnessing the finest onstage artistry that celebrated this year its 10th anniversary in West End and its 13th year on Broadway, that has wowed over 50 million people in 14 countries, and that has won over 100 awards including including 3 Tonys, two Olivier Awards, and a Grammy since it premiered in 2003.
And of course there are the gorgeous actors and their gorgeous acting and singing, with the likes of Jacqueline Hughes, Carly Anderson, and Bradley Jaden wooing audiences.
In the flesh
Rappler had the opportunity to review the opening performance as well as interview the cast of the international production of Wicked at the Marina Bay Sands Singapore last September 30.
Steven Pinder, British TV actor who plays both the oppressive The Wizard and the oppressed Doctor Dillamond, revealed, “I used to be a bully when I was at school. It's very sad really, because nowadays it is unacceptable especially in England, or over here, or in Manila. Bullying is a very strong line in Wicked. It’s simply the fact, especially with someone like Elphaba who is green."
Carly Anderson, who appeared in Sunset Boulevard and in Xanadu, plays Glinda. She said: “What’s great about this story is that it really tells one of acceptance. Playing Glinda is amazing because she [is] actually part of the bullying and seeing her learn from all the [other characters] is what the audience loves about her because she changes for good, and becomes a better person because of it.”
Bradley Jaden, who starred as Enjolras in West End's Les Misérables, plays Prince Fiyero. He observed, “I think what Wicked does show is that, you can be whatever age, race, creed, come from any different background, but as long as you’re confident in yourself – it’s about finding who you truly are, and allowing yourself to be as honest as you can be – that you can go through this life. And I think that’s an amazing story that Wicked allows you to discover.”
It maybe the themes of creeping fascism or it maybe the bullying that audiences of various ages can relate with. Or it may just be the wonderful songs and actors. There's always something more to see at Wicked every time. – Rappler.com
For tickets, visit www.ticketworld.com.ph.
Writer, graphic designer, and business owner Rome Jorge is passionate about the arts. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief of asianTraveler magazine, Lifestyle Editor of The Manila Times, and cover story writer for MEGA and Lifestyle Asia magazines, Rome Jorge has also covered terror attacks, military mutinies, and mass demonstrations as well as reproductive health, gender equality, climate change, HIV/AIDS and other important issues. He is also the proprietor of Strawberry Jams Music Studio.
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