The Wicked Witch of the West, better known as Elphaba, is accompanying her handicapped sister, Nessarose, for their freshmen year of college. Even in a new, well-educated environment, Elphaba is still faced with horrified reactions to her moss-green skin; something she has long grown used to. By a twist of fate and miscommunication she is boarded to room with the pretty and popular Galinda Upland, later to be known as Glinda the Good Witch. We get a special peak into their lives together and watch their friendship blossom and be stretched to its limits.
Enter Fiyero, the dashing prince brat who frequents colleges simply to party until he is kicked out. Dating Galinda in their shared popularity, he is unprepared to meet her new roommate, meadow-green and ostracized for it. Elphaba is bold and outspoken, sympathetic to talking animals and rejects all social norms. Fiyero is completely taken aback by this oddity, and as she encourages him to think for himself, Galinda notices his progressive drifting from her to Elphaba’s affections.
When Elphaba and Galinda have an opportunity to visit the Emerald City and meet the great and wonderful Wizard of Oz, they leap for the opportunity, hopes and plans mapped out. Upon arriving and meeting the Wizard, things change drastically when they discover that not only does he have no power, he is also not so wonderful as they first had thought. While Galinda (“Glinda,” at this point) chooses to continue with business as usual, Elphaba flies into a rage and is soon declared an Enemy of all Oz by the Wizard in an effort to keep his own name in tact.
When Fiyero outright leaves Glinda to help Elphaba, the Good Witch is devastated and heartbroken. In her anger she reminds the Wizard that Elphaba has a handicapped sister she adores. It is soon after that the classic house flies in the tornado, killing the Wicked Witch of the East… Elphaba’s sister Nessarose. At this point we follow the classic tale to the very end, with a surprise ending most wouldn’t expect.
The point of this story, aside from exploring a classic from an unusual perspective, deals a lot with racism against minorities and making the choice between standing out or following the addictive love of the crowd. Glinda’s greatest downfall is her love to be loved by everyone, even at the cost of loosing her closest friend. Elphaba faces rejection every day of her life on account of her green skin, so different from everyone else. We see that while some are not nearly as powerful as many think (such as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz) they can still control the crowds with frightening accuracy. Recognizing and choosing what to do with this is up to the audience.
Between the directing, acting, lighting, set, costumes and sound, the performances of “Wicked” in Tulsa is a state of absolute perfection. Having seen this production twice, I’ve noticed what has changed and what has stayed the same. Some sets have been perfected and narrowed, while lights have become more lavish and artistically designed. There is a wonderful scene with Elphaba singing her tragic solo “I’m not that girl” when it begins to rain. Instead of soaking the actress, set and entire stage in water, lights were used to give the impression of rain, while sound effects added the necessary sense that gave a brilliant imitation that was even better than literally raining on the stage.
Overall, the show has improved many times over from its debut 7 years ago on Oct. 10. There is no wonder as to why it is the 17th longest-running Broadway show, having taken the brilliant list of songs and taken the time to perfect every aspect of the entire show. It will be a long while yet before audiences grow tired of this incredible work of art.