Ever since I first heard the story of Wicked I've thought of a post by Catherine over at Lyric Poetry. So you should head over there and read this post first.

I'll wait.

Are you done yet?


When I first heard about Wicked, I went and read another book by the same author. The man is phenomenal writer, but I would never recommend a book of his. They are not pleasant reads. However, I was struck by his ability to take a story and completely change the point of view and give a whole new story. His theme seems to be perspective, like in Catherine's post.

I was leery of seeing the play Wicked after reading the other book. But my older brother, who has seen it several times, convinced me that I should give it a whirl. He assured me that the play was significantly cleaned up. Then we found out it was coming to town. My sil and Faramir actually camped out in December to get us tickets.

And I went. Last Thursday.

Um. . .


That's all I can say.


I was in awe.

The music was awesome. The voices were strong. Glinda was a hoot!

So here are things that struck me.

I didn't realize that this play was as much (or more) about Glinda than it was Elphaba. Elphaba grows as she comes to terms with who she is. Glinda has to grow up. The song "For Good" is one of the most powerful I've heard in a long time.

Along with this thought I was amazed at how much this story was about the power of friendship.

I saw glimpses of the dangers inherent in not taking personal responsibility (Boq) and wondered at the political climate that the play was written as well as the book. (Hints of 1984 by George Orwell come to mind.) There was also the theme of what things truly cost.

Then there was perspective. Did you go read that post by Catherine of Lyric Poetry? This one?

That's pretty much what this play is about. . .along with all that other stuff.

But it didn't impact me emotionally quite as much as I expected, and I've wondered why. Is it the play itself? Was it a mistake for me to listen to the music first?

I think the reason is because I've been forced to learn this lesson quite a bit, and so it wasn't a new thing to me.

When I was younger (read: high school and younger) I was a rather judgmental twit. I just thought that people who didn't believe the same things that I did were less intelligent maybe? Lacking in pure understanding? Obviously, if they really understood they wouldn't act that way! Take, for instance, smoking.

The only people I knew who smoked were the rejects parents. Their kids always smelled like smoke and were socially backwards to boot. They always smelled like cigarette smoke--a smell I cannot stand. (You have to understand here that I grew up in a town that was probably 85 percent LDS. Smoking was virtually unheard of.) I just assumed that only rejects and their parents smoked and that any sane, good person would not.

College became hard for me. I went up north from my hometown for college to a place that was home to a lot of Chinese and Thai exchange students. They all smoked. Going through every door was a nightmare because there were always people around getting their smoke in before class. The worst time was when I was pregnant. That smell just about did me in. But I tutored a lot of those people in English and so I had to put up with it.

Then I moved to Oregon. I got outside of my lovely little world of predominantly LDS people. I moved into government housing. That was a pretty miserable year or so. But there was one bright spot. My manager.

We'll call her Salina for anonymity purposes.

I loved Salina. Salina and I were great friends. I would bring her a banana and a large glass of milk when she needed a mid-morning snack. We would hang out after she got off work. (It was a full time job managing that complex!) I baby sat her kids. (I despised her husband, but that's a story for another day. )

Salina smoked.

And suddenly I learned to deal with it. No, I didn't like it. I couldn't help but think of all of the cancer cells that were invading my lungs every time I was around her when she was smoking. (To her credit, she tried not to when I was around.)

Guess what I found out?

You never will, so I'll tell you. (Name that movie)

She was a good person!


I loved her. I loved her kids. We had such a great time together. She wasn't a reject, though she did have some problems of her own. She was awesome.

Salina taught me that it isn't always cut and dried. There usually aren't all good people or all bad people. She taught me that we, most of us, are trying our best. We are doing the best we can with what we have. She eventually moved to Idaho with her putz of a hubby (who was also trying his best, but I have much less patience with him), and, last I heard, separated from him.

I found this out about a lot of people. My next door neighbors were great. I loved them, even after the night where they woke us up at 3 in the morning because he was beating her.

I found out I could love people who were less than my impossible high school standard of perfect.

People are good. They are doing the best with what they have. I may not completely understand, but it doesn't make them bad. I still don't understand why any one would smoke. Truly I don't. But I now understand that smoking doesn't make a person bad, just as a different political view from me doesn't make a person bad, or a different skin color, or a different language.

I still, as Catherine says in her post, believe that there are good and bad things. Murder is never right. I do believe it's better not to smoke, or drink or do drugs for that matter, but the people involved are great people.

Besides (another one of my high school idiocy's) if I stopped hanging out with every one I know who drinks coffee, I'd be lacking some great friends.

So Wicked was beyond awesome! The lighting effects were great. The music was loud and fun.

I'm just grateful that this isn't the first time I've come across this lesson in my life.
12 Responses
  1. Emily Says:

    One of my favorite books of all time, is 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. Again, it is a similar lesson learned, I love the way Atticus says, don't judge a person until you have walked a mile in his skin.
    I love that book, I love Wicked, and I wonder is there a reason I am drawn to this plot/story?Is it because I am always learning these lessons myself, over and over again? Who knows, but either way it is a good lesson to learn, over and over again.
    Hope you and your family are having a nice spring break!

  2. Melanie J Says:

    I think Fiero is my favorite character in the play because he's the one who truly sees Elphaba. I guess that's something super important to me...being seen for who I am.

  3. Catherine Says:

    Great post, and thanks for all the links!! :)

    I LOVED Wicked the play, but did NOT like Wicked the book.

    Its a long journey...

  4. charrette Says:

    I hope I won't be flogged for this...but despite the fabulous energy, music, acting, and perspective...I had a few issues with Wicked. We saw it in Chicago, but I assume the production is roughly the same. I just felt like it was a little slanted toward anti-establishment. Stephen Schwartz does this in a lot of his plays. Don't trust the people in charge seems to be a basic theme. And Wicked takes it one step further. Don't trust the people in charge, and when they wrong you, attack! Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed every minute. But as I thought about the themes, and as much as I love the way it makes you think about what is REALLY good and what is REALLY evil, I couldn't help thinking the perspective was slightly skewed.

  5. I saw Wicked in La.A. and loved it. But I have to say I didn't enjoy the book very much. I did like the author's "perspective", that's why I also bought his "Ugly Step Sister" book. I was fascinated that he told the story from the point of view of the "villain" and gave us a greater understanding of why things unfolded the way they did. I think in life real villains are rare. Our personas are created by people's judgment of which we sometimes have very little control.

  6. Kimberly Says:

    I remember the first time I learned that exact same lesson. It was marrying into Neil's family that did it. I have so many loved family members who smoke and drink and do drugs and tell dirty jokes - and yet, are basically decent, loveable people.

    Growing up is fun, eh?

  7. I hear you. I grew up with a lot of these judgments, and I too find that more and more, we're all the same. If we don't do the obvious bad things, we're doing something else, holding up some other idol.

    we lose out on a lot when we don't see past it all. I sure hope people can see past MY errors too. I have lots and lots of them....

  8. What a brilliant review! I love this post and the life lessons you shared. I have always wanted to read Wicked, but people have told me to avoid it, to just see the musical instead. One day I will see it.

    Your post reminds me of this quote, "There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill behooves any of us to find fault with the rest of us." (Hazel Fellerman) ... I am still working on following this one :) !!

  9. Abra Says:

    A lot of people groan and do that little nodding of the head thing when I tell them I'm mormon. However, they're soon quickly surprised to see that I'm not the closeminded person they've come to associate with as they typical mormon. So sad, that we as a religion have gotten that reputation. My mother was a firm believer that "people did bad things, they weren't bad people." She was disappointed with things we chose to do, but always respected and loved us for we we are/were. Because of that, I can understand that people don't always make the choices I would make or vice versa, but really, that doesn't make them bad people.
    great post :)

  10. LexiconLuvr Says:

    I was a high school/junior high twit too, once upon a time. (Hopefully not anymore!)

    I learn things the hard way. It took seeing my behavior affecting lives to change my misguided ways. (Thank you to the link on perspective. It was beautiful.) It also took living a life where I was perceived as "bad" before I could truly "walk in their shoes." Like I said, I learn the hard way.

    I hope that now, who I am now, I am able to see a person for more than just what's on the surface. I try to see the world as Catherine mentioned, a world with people hurting and navigating said world as best they can.

    Thank you for this post. God bless.

  11. KRB Says:

    Maybe I'm jaded, but as I watched Wicked in Chi-town, I expected the perspective twist and did not take home much of that message. I did appreciate the Ugly (green)Duckling subplot - that seems to be a universal theme we all resonate to.

    Having said that, I loved the show. But it was the power of the music that impacted me. The intermingled headlong collision of Loathing, juxtaposed against the desperate naive hopefulness of "The Wizard and I" and then contrasted against the painful acceptance of "I'm Not That Girl". Especially in the first half of the show, they wove a web of reminiscences about the difficulties and pain of growing up.


  12. megs Says:

    Woot woot, you liked Wicked :) I love it, I'm going to see it on Friday :) I'm way excited!! I saw it in NY last summer and I cried!