Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

07:40 May 31, 2016

They say there are two sides to every story. And things aren’t always what they seem.  They also say you shouldn’t judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.

All of that comes into play in Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, now playing at the Saenger Theatre thru June 19.

We all know Dorothy and her adventures in Oz with the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man, and the Scarecrow, and how they were all taunted by the supposedly terrible and evil Wicked Witch of the West.  But how did they get to that point? As the musical’s poster reads, “A lot happened before Dorothy dropped in.” Wicked tells the back story of the two witches of Oz, while really putting a new spin on things. Maybe the witch isn’t so bad after all.  Maybe she’s just having a really bad day.  And heck, if you had lived what she had lived, maybe you’d be pretty darn cranky as well.  And understandably so.  This show gives you a chance to walk a mile in her shoes, pointed and witchy that they are, to see things from her perspective.

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

Interestingly enough, Elphaba, or the Wicked Witch of the West, as she has been dubbed, really isn’t so wicked at all. As the story of Wicked develops, you see that she’s actually one of the good ones in the bunch. She’s just been dealt a bad hand, and has had to deal with a lifetime of mockery and insult. Elphaba was born with an unusual condition that turned her skin a deep shade of green.  And we all know it’s not easy being green (even Shrek had a rough go of it, and he had the support of a kingdom), and it’s definitely not easy for Elphaba. Made fun of and laughed at her whole life, even by her own father, she grew up friendless and alone, except for the company of her crippled sister, whom she has been given the permanent responsibility of nursing and caring for. Then, when she goes away to school, Elphaba hooks up with an unlikely ally, the popular and self-absorbed Glinda—the supposed “good witch”, and meets her love interest Fiyero. The three end up in a messy love triangle that is a central part of the story. Meanwhile, Elphaba also develops a strong identity that only succeeds in setting her further apart from the crowd.

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

Now, at the hands of the Wizard of Oz and his brainwashed disciples, Elphaba is persecuted and has become their chosen scapegoat for all that ails the Not-So-Wonderful World of Oz. It becomes a literal witch hunt, as she is sought out and hated for her physical differences, for her powers of sorcery, and for her beliefs and her convictions to stand up for those beliefs.

Like so many good musicals, Wicked has many layers.  On the surface, it’s simply a great show and a good time. The gorgeous costumes look like something out of a Tim Burton film—a steampunk fantasy world of color and elaborate design. The music is catchy and sing-along-able, and the humor is simply bewitching-- including several blonde jokes and Glinda’s tendency to add extra syllables to words where they don’t belong… like “rejoicify“ or “disrespectation“.

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

But there’s also a deeper message in Wicked.

The musical looks at good vs. evil and shows us that things are not always so clear cut, nor black and white.  There are definitely shades of grey, and in this case, many shades of green.

Jake Boyd, the talented and handsome star behind the lead character Fiyero, took time out from his hectic, eight-shows-per-week schedule to tell us a little bit about the show he loves so much. “I don’t think there really is a good or a bad witch,” he says. “Life is full of grey areas. You think that one is absolute and the other isn’t. But you get to take a look at these characters, and they’re just human, they’re just people… we’re not totally good, we’re not totally bad.  We all have that in us.”

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

Wicked teaches us a thing or two about cruelty vs. kindness, about friendship and family loyalty, and about loving someone despite their differences.  Says Boyd, “I like the story of the friendships in this show and how people can change your lives. Some relationships come and they go, they ebb and they flow.  But people and your experiences in life with them have helped make you who you are today.”

It’s a touching story, and it’s hard not to really get caught up in it. You can’t help but feel connected to the characters and all that they’ve been through.

“A very large part of people who come see the show can see themselves in these characters. You’re already kind of invested in the show.  You know the story, you know The Wizard of Oz,” Boyd says. “People can look at these two main characters and their relations and see themselves in one or maybe both. It’s very relatable on a lot of personal levels.”

There is also quite a prevalent political message in the show. It takes a harsh and critical look at propaganda, believing everything you hear, and following the masses even if in your heart you think something different than everyone else. There are even Nazi innuendoes.

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

“This show originally came out kind of in response to 9/11, and it’s very relevant today in the political environment we’re in. It plays with the idea of authority, the man behind the curtain,” explains Boyd. “There’s this idea of getting people stirred up into hating one group of people or one person, to further some sort of political movement or agenda…to rile people up to give them an enemy so that they can maintain control.”

So whether you’re looking for a great song and dance, a good laugh, or something more profound, you’re sure to find something you like in Wicked.

 “This has been one of my favorite shows I’ve ever done in my career so far,” Boyd says.  “You should expect a spectacle. The show is amazing. It’s incredible to watch. It never gets old at heart. Come see the show, you’ll have a great time!”

Indeed, if you only had a brain, you would definitely go see Wicked. Because this show is simply fantastical.

For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

Get a Little Bit Wicked at the Saenger

Jake Boyd as Fiyero





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