“Wicked’ returns to Singapore direct from a multi record-breaking tour of the UK. Since the musical began 13 years ago, it has won 100 international awards, including three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Awards in London’s West End. What is the story about? Should I bring my family to watch it? Is it for suitable for kids? Read on!
Set in a spectacular and colourful fantasy world of wizards, witches, magic and spells (the Land of Oz), WICKED tells the story of an unlikely but profound friendship between a popular blonde girl called Glinda and a misunderstood, green-skinned girl named Elphaba. Filled with wonder and enchantments, this musical follows their personal journey from sorcery students to becoming the iconic ‘Glinda The Good’ and the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’ from L. Frank Baum’s beloved tale ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. It is a moving story that touches on themes of friendship, acceptance and the power of kindness.
Six Spellbinding Reasons Why You Should Watch “Wicked”:
1. The Cast: I MUST start with this! The cast –from lead to supporting actors and actresses are honestly and truly exceptional. As a family of musical fans, we know quality musical when we watch one and THIS definitely tops all that we’ve watched this year! The acting, the singing, the choreography… all top notch.
2. The Voices: Intricately tied to the cast is the singing and here it is just sensational. We were literally moved by the singing and voice quality particularly of Jacqueline Hughes (who plays Elphaba) and Carly Anderson (who plays Glinda), both of whom have performed this role to critical acclaim internationally. Hughes’ emoting of the whirlwind of conviction, joy, loneliness that Elphaba experiences moves the audience while Anderson, does her interval leaps and melodies in crystal-clear clarity effortlessly. On that note, Hughes’ rendition of ‘Defying Gravity’ was stupendously moving and her duet with Anderson on ‘For Good’ moved many to tears.
3. The Costumes: Not since the Webber’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’ have there been a musical with such an opulent and lavish wardrobe of beautiful costumes. All meticulously made right down to the last detail. During the back stage tour, it was revealed that some of these costumes costs are easily in the thousands! What a visual showcase!
4. The Values: “Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” These are the opening questions from Glinda that set the tone and direction of the musical. Though fictitious, the struggles and successes that Elphaba and Glinda go through is something we all experience in our real world. Complex and real issues about human bias, ambition, prejudice, and bigotry are juxtaposed with themes of friendship, love, acceptance, integrity and kindness –something we all can identify with in our daily existence.
5. The Stage: Simply spectacular! The stage sets and lighting are something to behold. Frankly, it reminds me of a parallel post-modern whimsical world much like that of the Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka’s. It’s fun with a slightly dark twist.
6. The Sound: I’ve always believed for a complete experience, a live orchestra should always accompany live theatrical productions. Nothing beats hearing the timbre of the music live as we experience the resonance of music blending in with live acting and singing. Hearing one of musical theatre’s greatest blockbuster hits (Grammy award winning too!) ‘Defying Gravity’ and ‘For Good’ performed LIVE is simply breathtaking.
In summary, don’t miss this for the world. Not only is this world-class musical at its best, watch it for the values and power of human kindness that are the real magic stronger than any spells.
Question: Is the musical suitable for kids?
Answer: In Singapore, there’s no age limit on the admission (some international sites suggest age 8 and above) but the show does use strobes and lighting effects to add realism to spell-casting scenes and with a rather large dragon fronting the stage (that occasionally lights up its red eyes) to create tension and suspense. Therefore do prep your very young kids (especially those 6 and below) if you wish to bring them. If your children are well-attuned to these loud noises and visual effects (thanks to Harry Potter etc.…) then it would be a real cool treat for them to see ‘dragons’ and spells being cast on stage!
Question: Are there any mature or disturbing content in the musical?
Answer: No. If you don’t consider kissing a mature content – of which there are just 2 or 3 scenes only. After all, central to the plot is a love story. There are no offensive languages, violent fighting or suggestive dancing in the musical.
Question: Are there any ‘occult-ish’ materials since there are spells, witches and wizards?
Answer: Nothing more than what Snow White or Sleeping Beauty would have. No worries. They are pitched at harmless, fairy-tale level.
Question: What other things should I note if I were to bring my young kids? Here are some tips:
- The musical is almost 3 hours long including interval. It starts at 8pm so do prepare for them to be sleeping late. If you are arranging for childcare for your younger kids at home, then do prepare the caregivers that you will be returning home late (around 11.30pm).
- Act 1 is particularly long so don’t depend on interval time to use the washroom…. you may not last that long!
- Invest in a good pair of theatre binoculars (not the bird-watching ones!). It brings the action closer to the kids and helps them appreciate the expression and plot just that that bit more.
- This is a good musical to introduce kids to the classic ‘Wizard of Oz’ story. There are some short and light references to it. Allow them to spot the characters such as the Scarecrow, the Tin man and the Lion.
- Bring them to the orchestra pit and let them name the instruments for you.
- If you sit at the front stalls, take a look towards the back of the theatre and you’ll see some little ‘TV’ screens. Get your kids to guess what those screens are for!
Here are some questions to engage your kids and deepen their appreciation of “Wicked” The Musical:
The themes in the musical lend itself to much room for discussion with our children:
1. Do you think people who look differently from us are necessarily bad? E.g. people of different colour, different status, different abilities? How should we treat others who are different from us?
2. What other fictional ‘green characters’ from TV/Movie/Storybooks that you thought were ‘bad’ or ‘evil’ at first but turned out to be actually kind and good? (Think Shrek and Fiona)
3. Are good-looking people always good? How much should we judge people based on their outward appearance?
4. How do we tell if someone is ‘good’ or ‘wicked’?
5. How should we respond when we are treated badly or ostracized by our friends?
What is “Wicked” all about? How is it linked to the ‘Wizard of Oz’?
“Wicked” is written as a prelude to the famous children’s story ‘The Wizard of Oz’.
It is an inspiring tale that details the life of two young ladies who turned from enemies to friends. There are plenty of online sites that provide very detailed synopses. But if you’re in a hurry or you need to explain the plot in simpler terms to your children, then here’s our simplified version along with some suggested themes for further discussion. Hope it helps! (Copyright to www.lifestinymiracles.com)
Wicked – Act 1
The scene opens where The Wizards of Oz left after the ‘death’ of Elphaba The Ozians (‘People of Oz’) gave thanks to Glinda The Good for helping them get rid of Elphaba (whom they had mistaken as the Wicked Witch of the West). One of the Ozians asked if Glinda knew Elphaba. Glinda started recalling how their friendship started.
It all began with the birth of Elphaba –who was born with green skin to the horror of her governor father. He refused to acknowledge this baby as it was a disgrace (Themes: Biasness and prejudice).
Years later, Elphaba was sent to be chaperone her younger sister, Nessarose at the University. Nessarose was not born green but she was disabled. Glinda met Elphaba for the first time at the University. Due to the colour of her skin, Elphaba was ostracized and ridiculed (bullied) by all her peers but she tried hard not to let it affect her. (Themes: Being unkind, treating people differently, prejudice, stereotypes, bullying).
Due to a mix-up of rooming arrangement, Elphaba was put to room in with Glinda. Elphaba revealed her magical powers accidentally one day and this caught the interest of Mdm. Morrible, a sorcery teacher. Mdm. Morrible volunteered to teach Elphaba sorcery. Glinda was jealous and loathed Elphaba even more. (Theme: Ambition, jealousy).
The students’ history teacher was Dr. Dillamond, a goat. During class, he saw an offensive graffiti and was quite affected. He dismissed his class early. Elphaba stayed behind to console him. Dr. Dillamond shared his concerns about how the animals, who were just as capable as humans, were being treated differently and would soon be denied their freedom to speak. (Themes: Racism, stereotypes, inequality)
The University admits a new student, Fiyero – a flamboyant handsome young prince. Glinda fell in love with him immediately because of his looks. A ‘nerdy’ Munchkin named Boq expressed his liking for Glinda but she dismissed Boq by asking him to care for Nessarose instead. Boq, hoping to win Glinda’s heart one day, did what he was told.
Glinda gave one of her unwanted old witch hat to Elphaba to wear to Fiyero’s party. It was meant as a cruel joke but Elphaba innocently wore it to the party. During the party, Mdm Morrible gave Glinda a wand and said that Glinda has been admitted into her sorcery class on request from Elphaba. Glinda was moved and shared a dance with Elphaba. Later back in their dorm, both of them started to chat and their friendship blossomed. Glinda offered to teach Elphaba how to be popular and fashionable.
During history lesson, the students witnessed how Dr. Dillamond was removed by the Guards as animals were no longer allowed to be teachers. Fiyero and Elphaba started to develop affection for each other and they rescued a lion cub from abuse. (Note: The lion cub will become the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz).
Mdm. Morrible told Elphaba that she was invited to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba was ecstatic as it was her dream to meet the Wizard! She invited Glinda to go along with her.
At the meeting with the Wizard, Elphaba was disappointed to discover that the Wizard actually did not possess any magical powers and that the Wizard and Mdm. Morrible were the ones behind the plot to stop animals from talking. (Theme: Greed, ambition and dishonesty).
Elphaba tried to make things right but failed. She tried to escape. The Wizard and Mdm Morrible convinced the Ozians that Elphaba was wicked and gave her the name – ‘The Wicked Witch of the West’. Elphaba used her ability to cast a spell that enabled her to fly off ‘Defying Gravity’. Glinda stayed behind with the Wizard as they promised her fame and popularity. (Theme: Integrity, moral courage, and greed).
Wicked – Act 2
Glinda announced her surprise engagement to Fiyero, who was now the Captain of the Guards. Fiyero was confused as he had begun to fall in love with Elphaba but not Glinda.
Elphaba went home to look for her sister Nessarose and was told their father had died from the shame caused by Elphaba who was now known as the ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. Trying to make amends, Elphaba cast a spell to make Nessarose walk. When she succeeded, Nessarose was overjoyed as she thought Boq will finally love her now but surprisingly Boq, told her the truth that he only loved Glinda. Nessarose was devastated and cast a spell for Boq to have a change of heart. The spell backfired and started to shrink Boq’s heart instead! Elphaba tried to help save Boq’s life. She cast a spell that turned him into a tin man. Nessarose accused Elphaba of creating this huge mess.
Meanwhile, Elphaba returned to confront the Wizard of Oz. When Elphaba saw what the Wizard has done to Dr. Dillamond, she renewed her determination to kick the Wizard away from Oz. Just then, Glinda and Fiyero appeared and Fiyero saved Elphaba from the Wizard. In the forest, Fiyero and Elphaba shared their feelings for each another (Themes: Love and acceptance).
Mdm Morrible and the Wizard devised a plan to lure Elphaba out. Morrible creates a huge storm that caused a house (Dorothy’s house from the Wizard of Oz) to collapse on Nessarose, killing her but not before bringing Elphaba out from hiding in a bid to save her sister.
Glinda went to the cornfield (where she gave directions to Dorothy to go down the Yellow-brick road) to inspect the damage. She met Elphaba and was affected by the mess this whole situation has created. Glinda had a change of heart. Fiyero appeared and while trying save Elphaba from the guards, was captured and tortured. Elphaba cast a spell to protect him. The spell turned him into the scarecrow. Elphaba escaped.
Back at her hideout, Glinda visited Elphaba. Both of them bury the hatchet and pledged to make things right. As the guards turned up to capture Elphaba, Elphaba hid Glinda and ‘melted’ into a puddle as Dorothy splashed water on her. Glinda was devastated but that strengthened her will to choose to do what is right. She revealed to the Ozians about the true colours of the Wizard and Morrible and had Morrible captured as the wizard fled. But not before the Wizard discovering, to his anguish, that Elphaba was actually his biological daughter. (Themes: Moral courage and forgiveness).
Finale: Unknown to Glinda, Elphaba emerged from her ‘death’ to reunite with Fiyero, who was now the Scarecrow. Glinda was now in charge of Oz and known as Glinda the Good. The story ends.
WICKED – THE MUSICAL
Show Dates: Thu, 29 September 2016 to Sun, 20 November 2016
Tue – Fri: 8pm
Sat: 2pm & 8pm
Sun: 1pm & 6pm
Venue: Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands
Thanks to our sponsor, we have two pairs of Category A Tickets (worth SGD330 per pair) to be given to two loyal readers to watch WICKED – THE MUSICAL on Friday, 18 November 2016, at 8pm. To participate, simply do the following:
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The giveaway ends 13 November 2016, 11.59pm and is open to readers in Singapore. The winners will be contacted using the contact particulars provided when entering this draw and will have 24 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be drawn. No requests for change in show date/time will be entertained. Winners will collect the tickets from the box office an hour before show time.
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Disclaimer: We were invited to the Media Preview of “Wicked” for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and photos (unless watermarked) belong to Base Entertainment Asia.