Log in

No account? Create an account
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Is the musical Wicked groundbreaking? I didn't think so at first, but... 
20th-Jan-2007 03:14 pm
As you may or may not recall, I found Gregory Maguire's reimagining of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz, while intriguing in its social commentary, to be one of the bigger literary drags of my reading life, so I was not all that eager to read up on its musical adaptation. All of that changed, however, this past week. Broadway musicals have been like an aural version of comfort food for me since early childhood, and I've been in profound need of some good comforting lately. Before I'd even completely thought it through, I found myself trolling the Internet and YouTube for clips from Wicked.

At first, all I saw was a mishmash of so-so music and an over-large cast wearing over-the-top costumes--and more than enough onstage pageantry to make it a long-running hit a la The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. But then I took a closer look and noticed a definite homoerotic frisson between Elphaba and Glinda (something that I never detected in the book), and it got me thinking.

And thinking. And thinking some more. And then, after reading up on the musical's plot, which, as it turns out, is VERY different from Maguire's novel, I realized how it's just a bit more impressive and groundbreaking than I would have thought from the get-go. Namely by starring a FEMALE tragic antihero in the popular mythological (as opposed to purely literary) tradition of Dracula or, well, the Phantom of the Opera. Elphaba's brilliant, idealistic, and, by accident of birth, profoundly misunderstood. She becomes disillusioned with mainstream society and is ultimately redeemed by love. Also, in case you missed the academic egghead's memo, as the tragic antihero of this sort she is a crypto-metaphor for the (closeted) homosexual.

I can't for the life of me think of another example of a female character from popular culture of this type, recent or otherwise. (Ideas, anyone?) Women, even now, tend to end up relegated to one-note characters in these sorts of uber-popular productions. So I hope that Wicked has a long, long life on Broadway and that Elphaba the not-so-Wicked Witch of the West fully enters popular consciousness to prove that women can be complex, ambiguous characters too.

If you've no idea what I'm talking about above, this trailer is a good introduction to the show.

A depressingly shortened version of "Defying Gravity," first aired live during the Tony Awards show. The quality of the performance is only so-so, but am I the only one who sees something distinctively homoerotic here??? (Oh, and speaking of homoerotic, raise your hand if you recognize the guy introducing the performance. XD )

Filmed secretly from the rafters in London, this shaky little video happens to be the best performance of "Defying Gravity" that I've found online. (Even if the mixture of American and English accents is a bit bizarre.) What a great anthem for activists. ^_^
21st-Jan-2007 12:38 am (UTC)
I really do like Wicked, not only is the music great, but it does have a strong story--and I do see the homoerotic undertones!!!
21st-Jan-2007 02:16 am (UTC)
Have you read the book at all?
21st-Jan-2007 05:03 am (UTC)
No I haven't. Only the musical. One thing I do like about the musical is that the female leads are strong-willed and intelligent... unlike most females in musicals. My favorite example is Julie from Carousel (or as I like to call it: Domestic Violence is Okay as Long as the Guy Truly Loves You!), I despise the fact that she says that even though Bill struck her for no good reason, it didn't hurt, but felt like (and I quote) "a kiss"


Stupid, stupid, stupid, weak women!!
21st-Jan-2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Woo-boy, yeah, that goes a little beyond "subtext" and straight into "text". I tried to read the book and was unimpressed, but the musical has always piqued my interest.
21st-Jan-2007 04:03 am (UTC)
Heh. I'm surprised I never heard about anything about the evil lesbianism or something in it. But then, since it's about a witch, maybe that alone kept the worst wackjobs away. I got the biggest homoerotic vibe from the second video for whatever reason...but, what do you think?

*sighs* Say what you want about the evils of pirated video clips, but these, in this case, just make me want to see the show desperately. ^^; (And I would have long ago, even before I really knew anything about it...except the tickets are too damn expensive.)
21st-Jan-2007 04:08 am (UTC)
I couldn't even tell what was going on in the last video--though I agree that the singing was infinitely better--so it was the second that made me raise my eyebrows.

Before, since I had only read the book, I really had no earthy idea why I kept on finding slash for those two. Well, now I know...
21st-Jan-2007 04:12 am (UTC)
I liked the third clip 'cause it's the ONLY ONE that I could find that shows her casting the spell that makes the broom fly. Which explains where she got the broom to begin with.

Ah, so you thought the novel was slashy? For whatever reason, I didn't get that vibe at all. (Though obviously Liir or whatever his name was was gearing up to be his very own little gay coming out/coming of age story...haven't read the sequel yet so I'm not sure, but that would be my guess.)
21st-Jan-2007 01:42 pm (UTC)
but am I the only one who sees something distinctively homoerotic here???

When looking at it from that perspective it does seem rather obvious; I'm going to stop pretending and be who I am and if the wizard doesn't like it he can go to hell! ^_^

Even the title of the song can be taken as a reference to fighting against societal pressure to conform...
21st-Jan-2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
Even the title of the song can be taken as a reference to fighting against societal pressure to conform...

Well, it IS about that, literally. You can't tell from the song, but the Wizard is busily oppressing a minority group (talking animals) to consolidate his own popularity etc.
21st-Jan-2007 05:48 pm (UTC)
You could tell right off that the wizard is a bad guy ^^;
21st-Jan-2007 05:50 pm (UTC)
*laughs* What do you mean?
21st-Jan-2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
There's a lot of green in this play^^ and why am I not surprised the popular one is wearing Barbiue pink? >_< ow.
21st-Jan-2007 02:55 pm (UTC)
Have you ever seen the original Wizard of Oz movie? ^^;;
21st-Jan-2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
21st-Jan-2007 03:03 pm (UTC)
*gasps* I'm shocked. SHOCKED. XD You'll have to see it. It's required watching for pretty much ever American. :P
This page was loaded Jul 16th 2018, 2:30 am GMT.