For those of you who have never met me in person, or who haven’t known me long, you may be blissfully unaware of what a giant musical theater geek I am. I got the bug from my grandmother, who used to sing “A Bushel and a Peck” (from Guys and Dolls) to me as a little girl of 2 or 3…it’s one of the first non-nursery rhyme songs I knew. I grew up watching movie musicals like “Sound of Music,” “My Fair Lady,” “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” “The King and I,” “Annie” and so forth…they were some of the first VHS tapes I remember us buying.
My CD collection (and now my iTunes collection) is disproportionately Broadway and movie musical soundtracks. I’m even enough of a geek that I have different cast recordings of various shows.
Oh, and if I weren’t enough of an addict, when I lived in New York City, I worked for a Broadway ticket discounter. My JOB was to know which shows were selling daily at TKTS (the 1/2 price ticket booth) and what codes could be used to get 10%, 20% or more off of tickets. I may have elected to buy Broadway tickets rather than buy good groceries more than once (choosing to live on stuff like peanut butter crackers instead) in favor of seeing shows like “Thoroughly Modern Millie” or my 14th viewing of “Phantom of the Opera.”
It was during this period in 2002 that a new show called “Wicked” was opening. Based on the book by Gregory Maguire by the same name (but radically different plot-wise) During previews, if you can believe it, tickets were discounted 65%, and my friend Stephanie and I were super excited to see Idina Menzel (then known for originating the role of Maureen in “Rent”) and Kristin Chenoweth. We had no idea how popular (to borrow a song title from the show) Wicked would become, nor how much we would love it.
We were transported to Oz, where long before Dorothy dropped in, two girls named Elphaba and Galinda met at university. One was idealistic and wanted nothing more than to help the wizard. The other was a flighty popular blonde who wanted nothing more than to have fun and date hot boys. They weren’t thrilled to be roommates–in fact they hated each other on sight. But over time, they became friends…best friends. One landed a boyfriend that the other quietly watched and yearned for him, assuming she wasn’t what he’d want. A fateful day in the Emerald City and a meeting with the Wizard changed everything, though. They each made a life-altering decision that day that would change the course of their lives forever at the end of the first act. The consequences of those choices played out in the second act.
Oh, and you also learn the origin stories of The Cowardly Lion, The Tin Man, and Scarecrow…and those winged monkeys.
You also learn that the government of Oz is corrupt and how much what you think you know is just spin…
After the show, we decided to do something that neither of made the effort to do very often–we decided to stage door. To stage door, for the uninitiated, is when you stand by the stage door of the theater and wait for the performers to come out and ask for their autographs. Sometimes for hours.
Most of the performers were very sweet–we got all the principles autographs. It was a major thrill to meet Kristin and Idina, who posed for pictures for us as well Sadly that was before digital cameras. I know I have the pictures somewhere in Massachusetts, but I don’t have them at the moment.
For those familiar with Broadway, you know that Wicked became an box office phenom. Almost 10 years later, it’s still selling 98% of it’s seats regularly (source) and NONE of those seats are 65% off.
At some point I introduced Ravi to the show via the music…likely on a long drive down to NYC, and he was eager to see the show as well (although his favorite show remains Avenue Q). We went together, when it came to Boston in fall of 2007. At the time I bought a baby onesie that Ellie eventually wore (and that Rhi will sport at some point as well).
When I was pregnant with Ellie in 2008, we went to Chicago, where Wicked has been playing for years. They had a really cool “behind the scenes” tour that we attended. Two cast members walked us through a lot of back ground knowledge, and there were a ton of costumes and items from the show on display. It was a blast.
What does this have to do with you, my readers….especially the ones here in Singapore?
Wicked opens in Singapore in just a few short weeks on December 6th at the Marina Bay Sands and is playing through the end of February.
I am practically vibrating in my seat with excitement, as Ravi and I have tickets for the end of January. We sprung for really good seats as a Christmas present for each other. It likely won’t be our first child-free date, but it is the first that we’ve planned in advance. We are super excited.
If you are into musical theater, even if you’re not familiar with Wicked, you need to buy your tickets NOW.
If you need an early Wicked fix, though, right now you can see Glinda’s costume from the opening number of the first act and Elphaba’s second act costume on display in the windows at Robinson’s Department Store at the Marina Bay Sands “Shoppes”.