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Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"? 
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Post Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
I went to see the much hyped stage musical "Wicked" last week, as it was showing at the Adelaide Festival Centre.... I got some of the cheapest seats available, in the back row of the upper tier, still, they were positioned at such an angle that I was able to get a good look at everything that was happening and this show had enough fancy pyrotechnics that I didn't feel I was missing much by not sitting up the front...

You don't get many fence-sitters with this show. It tends to provoke extreme love/hate reactions. I've met people who describe it as one of the worst musicals of all time and I've met others who cite it as one of the all time greats. I've never heard anyone describe it as "just okay" or "alright" or merely "good".

If nothing else, I was glad I could see this show just so now I know what the fuss is about and can make up my own mind on the matter... I actually have a colleague at my new job who has seen it many times and considers it her number one favourite musical.... and I talked to people in the foyer during intermission (over a "Wicked Daquiri" made from Kiwi Fruit, Lime, Pineapple, Ice and Vodka) who had seen it 19 or 20 times and travelled both interstate and overseas "in my quest to see every version staged".

I thought that the show was merely "good". Not spectacularly bad, and not mind blowingly awesome either. I guess you can count me in as the first fence-sitter when it comes to this show. Although I was generally quite entertained and don't regret seeing it, the show will never rank amongst my all time faves.
(and the 80s nightmare-fuel schlockfest Return To Oz is still my favourite version of Oz)

The sets and costumes are striking to be sure, as are the FX used when our anti-heroine is creating sorcerous mischief and defying gravity. The cast all gave dynamic, wildly impassioned performances, both vocally and dramatically - the one exception being the stunt casting of talk show host Bert Newton as The Wizard, but even he was blandly milquetoast in the role, rather than overbearingly hammy like he usually is.

But it's a case of style over substance... although the dialogue is not without the odd moment of biting wit, the characterisation is painted in extremely broad strokes and the "be nice to those who are different" message is rammed down the audience's throat with absolutely zero subtlety.

Stephen Schwartz's score is uniformly pleasant - and yet, many of the songs lack a catchy hook and just washed right over me. Thinking back on it, only a handful of the songs really stood out for me, the rest were just "functional". Not bad but not great either. Ordinarily I wouldn't think of this as being such a bad thing, but considering this musical's reputation I expected wall-to-wall awesomeness or else something "so bad it's good" - not something that was, for the most part, just "okay".

Perhaps if I had seen this show without any hype attached to it, then my reaction would've been different.... two of Schwartz's other shows, Children Of Eden and The Baker's Wife, were legendary flops and I approached the cast recordings for those two with extreme trepidation, yet they ended up becoming two of my all time favourite musical CDs... but I do wonder sometimes if all the negative hype attached to them made me notice their positive qualities all the more... although Wicked is probably his least impressive work (of what I've seen anyway and I've seen most of it), I concede I might've appreciated it more if I'd come in fresh.

It could also be that I have a mind that is just too damn analytical for my own good sometimes. Sorry, if the prevailing tone of this post is disappointment, when I was "in the moment" with this show, I was having a good time, (even if it didn't stand up as well on reflection) and it was worth going out if for no other reason than talking to some of the people during intermission and at the stage door who were some of the most hardcore theatre buffs I've ever met, full of lively good humour and amusing anectdotes.... as were chatty stars Lucy Durack (Glinda The Good Witch) and David Harris (Emerald City Captain Of The Guard) who were as friendly as they are talented.

Am I alone here or does anyone else share my view that "Wicked" is both horrendously overrated by it's admirers and horrendously underrated by it's detractors? Not awful but not great either, merely "good"???


Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:50 pm
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
Jaded Mandarin wrote:
Am I alone here or does anyone else share my view that "Wicked" is both horrendously overrated by it's admirers and horrendously underrated by it's detractors? Not awful but not great either, merely "good"???


I don't think you are alone. I have seen the Australian production seven times over the past three years, most recently last week in Adelaide. I enjoy Wicked. I loved The Wizard of Oz as a child (and still do) and love both Gregory Maguire's novel and the musical (although they are extremely different beasts).

Theatre is, like anything creative, completely subject to an audience member's taste. Wicked has tapped into a particular market that has ensured its success worldwide as a glitzy, feel-good 'musical with a message'. It is not, to my mind, a particularly complex or sophisticated work, but it is not completely awful.

But then, not every show can be Sweeney Todd or Parade, just as not every show can be Annie or The King and I.

Wicked is the type of show (in my opinion, anyway) where the production elements - yes, the spectacle - are as much a part of the storytelling as the singing, acting and dancing - taking the concept of the 'integrated' musical even further. Whether or not you think this is successful or not is a different matter.

The reasons I have been back to see it the number of times I have are as follows;
- I always enjoy seeing a new cast. I would not have bothered to see it in Adelaide except that I have loved everything I have seen David Harris do and was excited to see his Fiyero. I was not disappointed!
- The 'zing' moments of the show are still truly 'zingy' for me - Perhaps it's shallow but I get goosebumps still in Defying Gravity.
- Jemma Rix.
- I'm studying Music Theatre at university so I'll happily see any show multiple times just to observe!
- Jemma Rix.

It is by no means what I consider to be the 'best' musical ever, but I understand it's popularity, especially with females, children and teenagers, and I enjoy it for what it is.


Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:45 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
I have a friend who hyped up Wicked to the nth degree (although she'd only seen tour productions and adored Marcie Dodd) so when I finally arrived at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway to see it, I was expecting greatness. I have to say I was underwhelmed. Whether it was because my expectations were so high, maybe it was an off night (for me, not the production), or that it really isn't that great, I just didn't think it was worth much.

I'm seeing it again this September (on tour, not BW this time), so I'll try to watch with a more analytical eye/ear/mind, but I also need to try not to go in having all these negative preconceptions.

But, color me of the "unimpressed" group. Wouldn't say I hated it, but I'm not sure I'd rate it even "merely good" either. Hoping to get a clearer picture later this year.


Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:03 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
Megziid wrote:
The reasons I have been back to see it the number of times I have are as follows;
- I always enjoy seeing a new cast. I would not have bothered to see it in Adelaide except that I have loved everything I have seen David Harris do and was excited to see his Fiyero. I was not disappointed!
- The 'zing' moments of the show are still truly 'zingy' for me - Perhaps it's shallow but I get goosebumps still in Defying Gravity.
- Jemma Rix.
- I'm studying Music Theatre at university so I'll happily see any show multiple times just to observe!
- Jemma Rix.



When I saw it, Jemma Rix's understudy, Laura Bunting, was performing the role of Elphaba.

She gave an absolutely brilliant performance, vocally and dramatically, that I honestly couldn't find any fault with.

Sorry if this sounds like more mindless hyperbole, but her performance was the one aspect of "Wicked" that left me genuinely blown away.
(the rest of the cast were excellent too, but not awesomely so, IMHO)

I kept thinking:
"Wow, if this woman is the understudy then how good must the regular one be???"


Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:03 pm
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
Wicked is like...a great play with okay music.

I go see musicals to hear the music. It's great when there are flashy lights and sets and visuals, but I don't think the score was as strong as Schwartz's other material. The main problem is that there aren't enough motifs to tie the whole musical together, so there is no confluence in the score. Off the top of my head I can remember one motif, and that was the "Unlimited..." one. Without those, it's hard to comprehend what you're listening to since you forget the last song every time you hear a new one. I had a hard time remembering any of the songs after I left the theater.

Saying that - Jemma Rix. OMG. Phenomenal. Her rendition of Defying Gravity was utterly ground-breaking and I was absolutely left breathless. The whole musical was worth it for that 8 minutes or whatever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbwcKJZB_u4#t=6m49 <3 !

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Fri Apr 29, 2011 4:53 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
MSam wrote:
Wicked is like...a great play with okay music.

I go see musicals to hear the music. It's great when there are flashy lights and sets and visuals, but I don't think the score was as strong as Schwartz's other material. The main problem is that there aren't enough motifs to tie the whole musical together, so there is no confluence in the score. Off the top of my head I can remember one motif, and that was the "Unlimited..." one. Without those, it's hard to comprehend what you're listening to since you forget the last song every time you hear a new one. I had a hard time remembering any of the songs after I left the theater.

Saying that - Jemma Rix. OMG. Phenomenal. Her rendition of Defying Gravity was utterly ground-breaking and I was absolutely left breathless. The whole musical was worth it for that 8 minutes or whatever. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbwcKJZB_u4#t=6m49 <3 !


And the Unlimited motif is barely a copy of "Somewhere Over the Rainbows" color with new rhythm.

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Mon May 02, 2011 4:18 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
Well I am going to London to see the west end version off Wicked in exactly a week and is very excited about finaly seeing it live. I have been totaly caught off the score, not every song in it but enough to rank it as the second best musical I ever heard/seen based on the score alone, so yes I have extremly high expectiations with me.

My favorite songs tends to be I am Not That Girl, Defying Gravity, No Good Deed and For Good so I really hope that whomever is Elphaba that day really can deliver a top notch performance.

And as a side note I am planing to see Phantom of the Opera as well, if my flight didnt mess up with my plans.

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Tue May 03, 2011 1:24 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
^ You'll probably be seeing Rachel Tucker - she is amazing! :)

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Sun May 29, 2011 7:36 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
I think I agree with you others.

Wicked is a good musical, but definitely not the best I've seen. I enjoyed it very much because of the spectacular design (I saw the Danish steampunk version). But I think the score is a bit dull, with few memorable songs. And I think the story could have had less emphasis on supporting roles like Elphaba's sister and Madame Morrible, and more on the actual leads (more Fiyero would have been nice).

So I too fail to understand what the big Wicked hype is all about. I guess the "power to define who is evil" is easy to translate into our modern world, and has a big appeal. It also tells a nice story about friendship, probably what I liked the most. And the visuals ARE cool. But going from that and to be THE musical of our time... Neeeh.

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Mon May 30, 2011 11:21 pm
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
I have never seen the show, only heard the cast recording. I like some of Schwartz's lyrics, but it's too bad they are linked to the clammy soft rock music of his :thumbdown:

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Tue May 31, 2011 9:52 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
Saw it again last night and, while I enjoyed my time better overall, I still walk away with the idea of "what a clever story" more than "wow that performance knocked it out of the park!" or something like that.

Again, I really had a fun time last night, more than on Broadway 2 years ago. Whether it was for anything not under the show's control, I can't say, but would at least partially suspect that it played a part. I was able to follow the show better, wasn't surprised by anything, but most importantly didn't go in with unfair expectations.

Elphaba (Anne Brummel) did a really good job with the role, and as good as the show was, I can't say I was recall another performance that stood out like hers. I am glad though, that I at least had a good time and won't necessarily hesitate to go again, if some different scenario (cast, friend who has never seen it, etc) presents itself.


Sat Sep 17, 2011 6:17 am
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Post Re: Does anyone else think that "Wicked" was merely "good"?
I saw the show with my school band while in New York with Mandy Gonzalez and while everyone was swooning over how it "was the best musical of all time" I really didn't see anything special in it. I don't know if it's because I've already heard Defying Gravtiy and Popular so many times I'm ready to rip my hair out, but I too found the production was just okay. It might have been different story if I saw it with Idina Menzel and Cheno, but I've seen better.


Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:22 pm
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