We just returned from a fun-filled, whirlwind three days in Chicago. We visited the Star Wars exhibit at the Science and Industry Museum, ate fabulous Greek food with Mary and Greg and Jody, Jim, Jacob, Jordan, and Jackson. (Man, we miss you guys!!). We shopped at Water Tower Place, and Mary Claire and I visited the American Girl Doll Store. We crammed four kids into a hotel room, spent way too much money, and had a blast!
The initial point of the trip was to see the musical, “Wicked.” After listening to the soundtrack non-stop for the last few months, I was DYING to see the stage show. Mary Claire asked to go for Christmas, and that sealed the deal.
I’d heard nothing but glowing reviews from everyone until I talked to my cousin, Amy. She hated it. Really hated it. Loathed it, in fact. She admittedly enjoyed the talents of the performers, but hated the whole “Mean Girls” on stage underbelly of the story itself. We agreed to discuss our reviews after I’d seen the show.
So, of course, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about my reaction to the show, Amy’s scathing review, and how I feel about the whole darn thing. And this is the conclusion I’ve come to:
I loved it. The whole darn thing.
And let me also say that I admire Amy so much–her brains, her spunk, her insight–everything about her. And I understand her viewpoint as well. I totally get the “Mean Girls” on stage review. But I still loved it. Mentioning one of my favorite classics might shed a bit of light on my love for “Wicked.” As a high school and college student, I couldn’t get enough of Dante’s “Inferno.” I like the concept of getting what you deserve; of everything coming full-circle. (Yes, you might consider me a bit dark.) I think life did come full-circle for both girls. Glinda became the “Good,” but in her quest, lost her love and her best friend. Elphaba ended her sad and misunderstood youth by ending up with her true love–in his less handsome, more appealing form.
Amy didn’t like the show because it glorified mean, nasty, catty girls and the damage they inflict on others. I liked the show because I think all girls have a bit of Elphaba in them. Which one of us hasn’t felt picked on? Laughed at? Shunned? Who hasn’t recognized the injustice of the “Galindas of the World” being glorified for their shallow and pointless hold on popularity?
It broke my heart to watch Elphaba dance her strange dance at the Oz Dust ballroom. Which one of us hasn’t wanted to be accepted? To be the trendsetter? To lead the dance? To simply fit in?
Mary Claire had so many questions about the show. And as I was trying to piece it together for her seven-year-old brain, it boiled down to this explanation: Elphaba was a good girl who was treated poorly all her life because she was different. And isn’t that injustice a good lesson to teach our little girls? Shouldn’t they be friends with the green-skinned girls of the world as well as the blonde cuties? Better yet, shouldn’t they learn early on to judge a person’s character instead of her appearance? I think it’s a good lesson for all of us.
Maybe I related so strongly to Elphaba because my childhood was challenging–because I was poor and fatherless and wore hand-me-down clothes and had to fight all my battles with my fists and my brain and my athletic ability. Couldn’t I, too, have ended up being shunned and disgraced by the blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties? And wouldn’t enough kicks while you’re down cause you to stay down eventually? How often do misunderstandings and assumptions turn into tall tales on a daily basis? How much damage do lies and injustices do?
For me, this story was real. And as a HUGE “Wizard of Oz” fan, I loved the creativity of the “back story.” The scarecrow and the Wicked Witch of the West running off to live together in secrecy? LOVE it! And sure, if they wanted to cast an overweight 37-year-old Elphaba, I’d be first in line.