10 Reasons why Wicked is continuing to storm the West End, Broadway and touring theatres.
I think it is safe to assume that every theatre fan knows the show Wicked. I also think it’s fair to assume that non-theatre fans have also at least heard of the show. If I mention shows to my friends, Fun Home, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Memphis leave people puzzled, but Wicked is definitely up there with Les Miserables and The Lion King that EVERYONE has heard of.
So, what is it about Wicked that makes it so “in-the-know”? In comparison to Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera who have each been running for 32 and 31 years respectively, Wicked has “only” been running 11 years. Other shows, such as The Lion King, are well-known through other purposes such as previous film editions, but other than being based on The Wizard of Oz, Wicked doesn’t have this much behind it.
However, this is what Wicked does have, which I think has kept it alive and popular (excuse the pun) for so many years.
1. Strong Female Leads
Elphaba and Glinda are very defined characters who share some similarities as well as differences, but each are very strong in their beliefs and their actions. They are powerful and drive the story and because of their differences, leave you asking your friends which witch is your favourite. They are strong women which is crucial on stage to inspire young girls.
2. A huge audience appeal
This leads to my second point, in that Wicked is not only a show for all ages, but is one you would actively want to take young girls to. The story is simple enough for younger audiences to follow, leaving some more complex aspects and humour for just the adults to enjoy without younger people getting lost. Elphaba and Glinda, despite each of their faults, make for amazing female role models and every girl can see themselves in these strong women.
3. Strong Messages
Another reason why I’d want my future daughter to see Wicked is because there are some really important and strong messages in this show. Not to judge a book by its cover is a huge thing for Wicked, as well as making comments on friendship (and putting a boy between your friendship), disability and standing up for what you believe in.
4. Political Relevance
Rest assured, Wicked is not only for young girls to be inspired by, but it has some huge political relevance in society today. Some of the messages from Oz can be applied to today, such as how the Ozians believe Elphaba is wicked because the Wizard said so…as citizens in a politically active society, I believe that we should not just believe what social and political elites tell us, but to learn to question the messages. There is much we can learn from this show.
5. Spectacular visuals
And we don’t all come to the theatre to be lectures on messages and politics. Wicked is nothing if not a visual spectacle. Of course this can be applied to most shows; Les Miserables’ barricade is a force to be reckoned with, as is the Chandelier in The Phantom of the Opera, but I will never forget 11-year-old me being in complete awe as I watched Elphaba take to the skies for the very first time. There is no feeling that will top that for me, and I can only imagine that this is the feeling of every audience member in the Apollo Victoria eight times per week. Not to mention the costumes and sets are also wonderful.
6. An Amazing score
And a musical would only be a glass half-empty would it not be for the amazing score and soundtrack by Stephen Schwartz. Wicked is a soundtrack I come back to all the time, and is one I will never forget the lyrics to. It is captivating, has some amazing beltars in there and will stay in your head long after you’ve seen the show. You’ll be singing it in the shower, you can count on that.
Of course, every Wicked fan is going to have their preference on their Elphie/Glinda casting and which witch is the best, but there is no denying that every woman cast as either Elphaba or Glinda has knocked the socks off every audience member who has played her. And this is not just limited to the leading ladies; Wicked is a show put together by a whole ensemble, an entire backstage crew and roles Fiyero, Boq, The Wizard, Nessarose, Doctor Dillamond and Madame Morrible are also crucial to make the show as special as it is every time, and they always deliver.
One thing I tend to sometimes forget about Wicked is that it is a hugely funny show. From some great one-liners from all three of our lead roles, to the immensely funny “Popular”, and a hilarious cat-fight between Elphaba and Glinda, in all senses of the word Wicked is a hugely entertaining show because it really does have it all.
As previously mentioned, people – girls especially – are likely to see aspects of themselves in Elphaba and/or Glinda as strong women, but there is more to it that that. I’m sure all of us have been an Elphaba more than once, wanting to fit in but not being able to, or trying to do what’s right and have it backfiring. There is so much more to these characters in this show than the “good” witch and the “bad” witch.
10. An Engaging Story
And finally, with its cleverly interwoven links to The Wizard of Oz, the story is more than it first appears. Not only do we learn how the famous characters in Oz became so, the story also shocks the audience more than once with its twists and turns before the curtain comes down. The foreshadowing in the story is also brilliantly clever, and the more you see the show the more you begin to notice.
So, there you have some reasons as to why Wicked is so wicked, and has been seen by millions of people all over the world.
Have you seen the show? What did you think? Which of these 10 reasons was your favourite when you saw it? Let me know in the comments below!