A Wicked Masterpiece for Wicked Times

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I had the great privilege the other day of seeing the hit Broadway musical, Wicked. For years I had heard that this alternate take on The Wizard of Oz was must-see theater, but I had no idea what I was in for.

I purposely went in knowing only that this is the so-called “untold story” of a beloved American classic. And I understood that it involved serious themes, which, as I have said here before, lie at the heart of my own passion for theater.  I thus expected a story that would touch on prejudice and bigotry, and indeed I found that, but what I did not expect was such brilliant and unblinking attention paid to domestic violence, the abuse of children and animals, power and control, torture, tyranny, courage and redemption. Without revealing details, let me say as a dissident voice recently targeted for silencing, that what resonated most personally for me was the silencing of dissident voices by corrupt authority figures and fawning, feel-good minions. Sound familiar?

What I saw in the theater on that day was a retelling of a beloved American classic  that mirrors what at least one member of its audience (me) sees occurring beyond those theater doors in our own non-Ozian world. I both hope and expect that I am not alone in this, that this accounts for this show’s wild popularity, despite what the show’s creators might have intended originally. The moment art of any kind is released into the atmosphere, it becomes whatever an individual reader/viewer/audience member wishes it to be, a fact I first experienced personally years ago when a short story I had written for an undergraduate fiction seminar was suddenly being discussed as a retelling of the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden. News to me.

I speak here then as an audience member who was never a rabid fan of the original Wizard, but who now includes the “untold” version of that tale, one filled with rich and desperate themes – including one of the most powerful scenes I have ever witnessed on the stage (hint: torn flesh, the stain of blood) – on my list of all-time favorites. I urge others to see it, as well, just as I urge us all to resist the silence and the goosesteps.


  1. bloodbrother
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    That was such an amazing entry. You have had so many comment-worthy entries lately that I have just not had the time to be able to comment on.

    What do you mean that you are (were) a dissident voice recently targeted for silencing?

    Who tried to shut you down, and, more importantly, for what? I can’t believe this.

    Believe it or not, I live in San Francisco, CA, and I still agree with everything you write about on your site.. We need more of you like us here.

    Did I miss something?

  2. Betsy Siino
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    It’s a long story, but suffice it to say, they did not succeed. And they won’t. Many thanks, though, for your good wishes, and let’s all keep up the good fight.

  3. RQBK
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Too bad they didn’t succeed.

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