Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Tired of politics, war, filibuster deals, and the insane rantings of the left? Me too. How about something completely different?
Mrs. P and I went to see the national tour presentation of Wicked in Chicago last night and had an excellent time. For those of you unfamiliar with the storyline, Wicked presents the happenings in Oz, before the lovely Dorothy blew in and caused such havoc in Emerald City. Without getting into too much detail, it is a clever twist that builds off of the original story by L. Frank Baum. Lest you think the story is a mere trite play on the original, Wicked does attempt to provide the musical answer to the question, "is one born wicked, or do circumstances cause one to become wicked".
With it's references to Evita, and the control of the governed by fear, Wicked also questions whether there is true evil in the world, or just moral ambiguities that become conveniently defined in black and white terms by those in power for their own nefarious uses. No doubt, in the age of the evil Karl Rove and his pet Monkey, ChimpyMcHitlerBurton (stolen from Protein Wisdom), our modern day liberal friends will literally be vibrating with glee in the coffee house after the show, as they discuss the parallels with the current American administration.
Ah, but there I go on politics again, and I wanted to avoid that. I do think the question of moral ambiguities, while much too large to be appropriately considered in this fine musical is one of the biggest divides in American politics today, and merits further discussion. Liberals tend to think that conservatives fail to appreciate the shades of grey that exist in these questions, while conservatives believe that liberals get so caught up in the uncertain nature of these questions, that they are incapable of making distinctions between good and evil. I believe that at the extremes, each group has a point. Perhaps we'll consider this question more here at the Pursuit.
As for the musical, I strongly recommend the show. Those with more culture than I, will complain that the music is more than a bit pop oriented, and that the storyline can be considered a bit shallow, despite it's ambitions for greater depth. They would be correct in this assessment, but I'd argue that not everything can be Shakespeare, and Wicked is quite comfortable with it's position in the cultural mainstream which allows it to soar and entertain.
As for the set and costumes, they are extremely well done. The set is constantly changing and through excellent use of color and lighting creates a visual landscape that is every bit as stunning as anything one would find in other visual mediums. The costuming is lavish, and does a good job of visually distorting the actors physical features to ensure that the audience is aware that these people are from a very different land.
All in all, a strong recommendation from Mr. and Mrs. Pursuit. Even more, if you have kids, this would be a great show for them to see. Wicked's songs are delightful and quite approachable for kids, and the staging provides the visual wallop to keep a generation raised on TV very interested.