I’ve been trying to organize girls weekends away to see “Wicked” in a number of cities over the past few years . . . Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Memphis. The timing never worked. I was so excited when I heard they were headed to Nashville and I was even more ecstatic when I saw they would be here for my birthday! I am counting down the days till I can see it again. I love this show so much, I might actually be unable to stop myself from bursting out in song during the show. I know I will be singing it in my car daily from now till show time!
When I was living in NYC, the show was at it’s zenith. The other girls in my office played the soundtrack all day long. I knew every word before I got around to seeing the show. Now that I think of it, it was the same way for me with The Wizard of Oz. My Dad had the soundtrack album and I played it all the time so I knew every word to “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” before I ever saw the movie, on TV . . . back when they aired it once a year and that was your only shot at seeing it. . . but I digress.
I remember some early reviews of the musical said the songs weren’t memorable enough. Academically, I get their point. It’s not Sondheim, Lloyd Webber or Rogers/Hammerstein. There certainly aren’t a lot of stand alone songs that work outside the context of the show for would be pageant queens to labor through in the “talent” portion of their competitions. But I think critics sometimes forget that real people see the show through their own context and that isn’t usually one of analyzing every musical ever written. They watch it through the context of their lives. Wicked has something for everyone but if you are a girl who made it through Middle School, you know this show before you ever see it! You lived it…well, minus the witches, wizards and talking goat. Come on girls, who can’t relate to lyrics like these:
What is this feeling, so sudden and new?
I felt the moment I laid eyes on you;
My pulse is rushing; My head is reeling;
My face is flushing; What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame, Does it have a name? Yes!
Loathing. Unadulterated loathing
For your face; your voice; your clothing;
Let’s just say – I loathe it all
When I see depressing creatures with unprepossessing features.
I remind them on their own behalf to think of
celebrated heads of state or especially great communicators.
Did they have brains or knowledge? Don’t make me laugh!
They were popular. Please, it’s all about popular.
It’s not about aptitude. It’s the way you’re viewed.
So it’s very shrewd to be very, very popular like me.
Hands touch, eyes meet,
sudden silence, sudden heat
hearts leap in a giddy world.
He could be that boy,
but I’m not that girl
Don’t dream too far, don’t lose sight of who you are,
don’t remember that rush of joy.
He could be that boy,
I’m not that girl
Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap!
It’s time to try
I think I’ll try
And you can’t pull me down!
Defying Gravity is the ultimate 1st act finale, so you can imagine it’s quite the show stopper. Most people walk away remembering that moment. But the song that still resonates with me most is “For Good.”
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you I have been changed for good.
Everytime I hear it, my heart brings to mind so many different people who have been in my life over the years and left a mark. Some of those people were in my life for years and some for days or weeks but they all made an impact. Thankfully most of the memories are of people who changed me for the better as a result of a positive experience. But there are a few who changed me for the better from nothing more than teaching me a lesson I don’t want to repeat or showing me one to avoid! Either way, I guess I am better for knowing them all. The song also reminds me to consider what others might say about me. If I am changing them for good, am I showing up in their lives in a way that also helps them change for the better? I can certainly remember friendships and relationships where I missed that opportunity.
On September 3rd, when the curtain goes up on my next encounter with “Wicked”, I’m thankful that the women I’m going to be sitting with are some of the ones that week in and week out laugh at me, cry with me, listen to me and counsel me. They would probably only be moderately embarassed if I can’t control myself and I end up singing outloud right along with the show. I did say only moderately embarassed, right? I can definitely say because I know them, I have been changed for good . . . and for the better. What a great way to celebrate my birthday!