Pink and green drinks are passed out at bars, children are sucking on pink and green Dum Dum suckers and “Wicked” merchandise is being sold as the musical takes the hearts of Arizonans attending the show at Gammage.
“Wicked,” which enchants audiences at Gammage through May 5, kicks off with the end of the beloved classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” with the Wicked Witch of the West dead and all of the munchkins celebrating. Munchkins begin to ask Glinda about the deceased witch, which leads to munchkins asking if Glinda was, in fact, friends with the evil Wicked Witch of the West.
She doesn’t deny it, causing gasps among the munchkins and Glinda tries to defend herself by claiming it was a very long time ago and she is a changed person.
The audience is taken on a journey of the two girls, Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (Glinda, the Good Witch) at college. Elphaba, born with emerald green skin, is tormented about her looks, but is clever and smart; and Galinda, adorned with bubblegum pink outfits, is worshipped as a full-of-herself, dim popular girl.
The two women are initial rivals, but the two come together to form their unlikely friendship. Galinda sees Elphaba, or Elphie as she calls her, as someone who needs a friend by her side. Galinda teaches her the ways of popularity and confidence to Elphaba, and Elphaba teaches Galinda about true friendship.
The two are faced with problems as society begins to label them and the two fall in love with the same man, Fiyero Tigelaar. The unlikely friendship unravels when people begin calling one good and the other evil, and their shared love for Fiyero didn’t help keep them together,
Through lighthearted jokes, sarcasm and powerful songs, the musical teaches the audience the importance of being true to oneself and even those who seem “wonderful” and “good” on the outside, are hiding something not so wonderful and good on the inside.
When Elphaba sees a problem with the treatment of creatures in Oz, she decides to speak up about the problems to the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and she discovers he is also just who society wants him to be: A smiling figure who tells the people what they want to hear.
The wizard talks of how he liked the idea of being “wonderful” in the eyes of the city and wants to continue that reputation; therefore, he must unite them by identifying a group to discriminate. He tells society what they want to hear, and they swoon and listen to every word.
Although she has the opportunity to stand by the wizard’s side and be beloved by all Ozians, Elphaba stands true to her values and rejects the offer and lands her the title of being wicked.
Glinda, with her name now adjusted to what we all know, fits the Oz’s mold of good and pure. There are moments when her true colors are shown and she misses her friend, but she covers up her love for Elphaba for the sake of face. “Wicked” demonstrates that even Oz is not perfect, with the idea of discrimination and the pressure of conforming to society’s standards.
During the second half of the story, Dorothy slips in the picture and the audience gets the wicked witch’s perspective. Instead of Dorothy being innocent and pure, she is viewed as a disruption of Elphaba’s life and an enhancement to her “evilness.”
By the end, the musical has painted the sniffling audience a true picture of what happened during their beloved tale of “The Wizard of Oz” and they realize maybe the wicked aren’t so wicked after all.
“Wicked,” ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Avenue, Tempe, asugammage.com, various times to Sunday, May 5, prices vary.