I now blog over at The Eyre Guide! This blog is an archive of my past posts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Awesome Adaptations (11) - Wicked

Posted by Charlene // Tags: ,

Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.  Anyone can play along! Each week there is a new category of adaptation to blog about. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along on your own blog, just mention Picturemereading in your post and include the banner above. Let them know which film you’d pick and why it is an awesome adaptation worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!

An awesome adaptation of a not so awesome book
Title: Wicked (A New Musical)
Adapted from Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Who can say if I've been changed for the better
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

I really did not enjoy the Gregory Maguire novel.  It felt rambly, purposeless, had unsympathetic characters who made bad choices that only made me very frustrated with them.  And the ending didn't really tie up everything for me.  But I love the musical based on the book a ridiculous amount.  So kudos to Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz!  This is why I think it is so awesome:

  • The focus on Elphaba and Glinda and their friendship.
They are similarly ambitious and differently talented, yet in the beginning, they do not like each other at all.  And then a touching friendship evolves that embraces what is different between them, and endures through the subsequent trials in the story.  They each made the other better. The finale always makes me teary.  Although there is romance for Elphaba, the real heart of the musical is from the friendship between Elphaba and Glinda.

  • The tragedy of Elphaba
The musical starts off with the joy the people feel in the Wicked Witch's death.  And then the story is reverse engineered to show how Elphaba was a good person who tried to do good, but was a victim of fear and people's unwillingness to accept that which is different.  The Maguire novel has an Elphaba who is less blameless because the story is more about a victim who does bad things for a good reason.  And in the musical, the 'good' witch Glinda is not so good because she is too afraid to stand up for Elphaba when things started getting out of hand.  So much more interesting to see Elphaba in this light I think, as someone who really never deserved to be called wicked.

  • The music
I think this is one of the reasons this musical is so Popular, because the songs are so darn catchy.  They are also heartfelt and cover a wide range of emotions - from elation, to jealousy, to love and loss and ambition.  I also appreciate the repeating themes and motifs in the music.  For instance, I just learned that the beginning chord progression on "No One Mourns the Wicked", a brash celebration of the death of the witch, is the same as the beginning of "As Long As You're Mine" which is a romantic duet.  I find that fascinating and it's fun to discover new things in the music you've been listening to a thousand times.

These are just a few of the aspects of this musical that make it one of my favorites.  I didn't even mention how cool I thought it was that the musical gave a backstory for the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man and the Scarecrow which the Maguire book did not do.  I also think the first act finale is the best, most thrilling finale I have ever seen in a musical.  I love this show so much.  It is ridiculously awesome!

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  1. I haven't read the book. I haven't seen the musical either, but since you say it's awesome I'm going to have to look into that for sure! :) Seems that I've been missing out on something cool here! Love this new meme BTW, I think I'd love to join the fun! :)

    1. I think you will enjoy the musical! I always use it as my recommendation for friends who are not that into musicals - it's a great story, relatable characters and great music! Thanks for commenting, and I hope you do join the meme! I would love to check out your Awesome Adaptation choices!

    2. Please join in! Love to have another pick to read! :) The calendar is here..feel free to chose any type of adaptation..film..movie..videogame..etc.

  2. I haven't read Maguire's novel but it does sound like much of what I liked was created specifically for the musical so perhaps I'm not missing much! I certainly have happy memories of going to see it in Chicago with Alisa and being blown away by the finale! Plus Popular is one of the best showtunes of the last twenty years IMHO! Great choice. :)

    1. So glad you guys like Wicked! It's such a favorite of mine! I remember going to see it with my friend who loved the book and I didn't have too high hopes for it, but I was pleasantly surprised. I agree with you on Popular, but then I think most of the songs in Wicked are genius. :)

  3. I love Wicked!! I enjoyed the book but didn't love it so I agree on thinking the musical was much better :)
    Popular and Defying Gravity are my favorites!

    1. Oh those are such good songs! I wonder if the rest of the books in the Wicked series improved- have you gotten a chance to check those out?