Wicked: It’s Big, It’s Green

Last weekend I saw the musical Wicked. Here are my impressions:

  • Louder is better. And boy, was it loud. I’d forgotten how amplified Broadway musicals are nowadays. I’m used to the opera, where despite the fact that the Lyric Opera House is at least twice the size of the Oriental Theatre, there’s no amplification. When the music started and the Wicked chorus rushed on stage singing in full voice, it took me a good five minutes to adjust to the decibel level…and the electric guitar in the orchestra.
  • Louder is also better when it comes to singing style. Every single solo was sung in the style of an American Idol finalist: start loud, sing louder, and finish really big, preferably with at least one hand dramatically raised in the air. All that was lacking was a handheld mic to emote over and a judges score.
  • The music was nothing special. There was no catchy song that I was humming on my way out of the theater. Very pop, very predictable.
  • Ana Gasteyer, of Saturday Night Live fame, stars as Elphaba, a.k.a. the Wicked Witch, and she’s the sole reason to see the show. Gasteyer is extremely good in the role, she has a great singing voice, and a lot of charisma on stage.
  • Years ago, I read the book that the musical is based on and while it was mildly entertaining to imagine a back story the characters of Oz, I didn’t think it was anything special or particularly well written. I’m not surprised they turned it into a musical, nor am I surprised they gave the story a happy ending on stage.
  • In thinking back on the show and talking about it with other people, it might seem like I really didn’t like it, which isn’t exactly true. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. It was just kind of…there. I did enjoy it as a fun night out with friends and I’m glad that I saw it, if nothing more than to see what’s really popular in the world of mainstream musical theater today. The audience sure loved it.

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