Tonight I went to see Wicked at the National Arts Centre with Donna. My ticket was a birthday present from her.
And oh, what a beautiful show.
Some of the best staging I've ever seen, particularly in terms of set design and lighting design. Above the stage there was a magnificent dragon on the proscenium arch - beautiful timing, since at various times today I've been reading Terry Pratchett's dragon-filled novel, Guards! Guards!.
What struck me most about the story - forgive me - was how slashy it was. Femslash. The whole plot is about the strong emotional relationship between Glinda and Elphaba, and it's written in the style of a romantic comedy/tragedy. They meet, and dislike each other. They fight, make friends, become close, become parted by circumstances, change each other's lives several times over, and - after a battle almost to the death - make great sacrifices for each other.
Yeah, I liked it.
Best line: when Elphaba wins the boy, and they kiss, and she says, "Now, for the first time, I really feel Wicked."
I wondered why Elphaba was green. I guess it didn't matter.
I assumed that resemblances to Harry Potter were not accidental.
The show is a travelling American production, which is great way to handle a big musical - part of a programme called Broadway Across Canada. Donna noted how all the actors, singers, dancers and production crew were one hundred per cent American - and indeed, the programme notes mention that one actress who had been in London, England, for a while, was pleased to be "playing to an American audience again", so obviously they didn't bother to change the wording just because they found themselves in another country.
The story must be a strong one, because even when I wasn't sure whether I was getting into it, I found myself crying over it. The plot had a few surprises for me - I always loved that - and I wondered if I would still have been surprised if I were more familiar with The Wizard of Oz in any of its forms. Probably.
Magnificent though the show is, the least magnificent part of it is the music, which carries the story beautifully, but still doesn't have the impact of the rest. Doesn't need it, the point of the songs is to be part of the storytelling. The songs aren't songs in their own right, but vehicles to tell the tale.
And the costumes - except for the clothes worn by Elphaba (which were delightfully plain, sort of like the musical theatre version of Jane Eyre) and Fiyero (who made me think of the Imperial soldiers of Barrayar), I thought most of the costumes were colourfully ugly, even unsettling and creepy, because they were all asymmetrical. Or was that just me? Were they supposed to be attractive?
Elphaba seemed more real than Galinda, who was a caricature - well, actually Elphaba was the only real personality in the show. I liked Madame Morrible, who looked great, and reminded me of the Matron in Chicago. I was also very impressed by Doctor Dillamond.
Those flying monkeys were particularly wonderful. They made the same sort of impression on me as the horses in Equus.