Hi everyone! Hope you all have been well and keeping safe, sane, healthy and joyful!
A few months ago, I wrote a post called, “Nine Things Les Miserables Tells Us About Life”. It is still my favourite article I have written, If I’m being honest. But then I remembered Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical. The musical that I watched for the first time almost a year ago and enjoyed it to bits. The musical which contained the songs that I sang and listened to 24/7 while my brother begged me to stop. While I haven’t had the pleasure of being a part of this production, the soundtrack is absolutely amazing, just like everything else about it. And then when I was wracking my brain for an article to write, I remember that yes, just like Les Mis, Wicked has some nuggets of truth that ya’ll deserve to hear.
If you are unfamiliar with the musical, a quick little synopsis is down below.
When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire‘s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900.
WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.
“Packed with wit, storming songs and beautiful costumes” (The Guardian), WICKED has won more than 100 major international awards, including three Tony Awards on Broadway and two Olivier Audience Awards in the UK.
The manipulation of public opinion and those with power dictate how people think and feel
The Wizard of Oz, the ensemble who act as the public, and even Galinda (Glinda) — they all have the power to manipulate the thoughts and actions of others just by looking/sounding/acting/talking like the type of person that people like. One powerful person believes that Galinda is the good one, and the rest believe. One powerful person believes that Elphaba is the wicked one, and the rest believe. Like Galinda says, ‘Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?’
On the other hand, Elphaba is new to the students at Shiz and to the townspeople. She looks like something they don’t like. And this escalates to her behavior becoming something that the public have been manipulated to hate: someone who is taking her chance at flying, freedom, and defying gravity, aka society’s norms. This evident theme in the musical relates even to this day in age when now more than ever, the opinions of the public majority and those with power, have been the ones that are the truth. Those who have a platform to speak out and tell the people what to think are the ones who get believed, not the ones who have actually done the research but don’t have a way of sharing it with the world.
Throughout history it has been this way. The media is also another big thing that people believe. But they have a way of twisting people’s words, and spreading lies just so spread fear so that those with power can come up with solutions to the fear that they created. Think about that for a moment.
Looks can be deceiving
Just like the wizard changed his appearance into something that would be feared or respected, he was able to get the public to believe he was someone that could make all their dreams come true. However, when he steps out from behind his great machine, Elphaba and Galinda see that he is just an ordinary man behind a facade designed to make him look more powerful and greater than he really is.
This is also somewhat true with Galinda. When we first meet her, she is all frills and popularity, and throughout the show she still is, but we get to see a different side to her; beneath all that, is someone who was yearning for an intimate friendship with someone who would encourage her to be herself.
When you justify dehumanizing someone, it becomes easy and it leads to worse things
When Doctor Dillamond is teaching his class, he suddenly finds a hateful message on his blackboard that says, ‘Animals should be seen not heard’. Before this, animals were just seen as part of the community. But as soon as this kind of talk spread around, animals became less and less valuable and less and less like the rest of them when others began to think of them as such and dehumanize them. Eventually, it became true for these animals, and they could no longer speak. Their freedom of speech had been ripped away from them because of what they looked like. The scary truth is, that is the same today. Someone who looks or acts or talks differently gets treated differently than someone who looks like the rest of the 500 people in the room.
When something becomes spoken of more often, it becomes more true. That is just like what happened in the holocaust; one powerful person was all it took to manipulate thousands of people, and he justified dehumanizing the Jews just because they looked different and had different beliefs. But what no one realises, is that everyone looks different, some just in a way that stands out more. Everyone is unique in their own special ways; which is exactly the way God made us; different. No two people are alike. We are all made special in the image of God; which doesn’t mean that we look like God, but it means that God looked at us and said, ‘I’ve created a masterpiece.’
What we believe in is worth fighting for, even when it seems like no one else supports us
Everyone’s opinion matters. Everyone’s voice matters, no matter how small or big. Elphaba decided that her fight for the rights of animals was much more important than what the majority thought. Elphaba saw pain and suffering in the lives of the minorities, and she wanted to do what was right. She saw what no one else saw; beauty in the animals. And she wanted to see equality. What other people saw was rebellion against popular opinion, and that in itself was a crime to them.
Kindness and friendship is more valuable than popularity and fame
At first, Galinda is hateful and mean towards Elphaba, shunning her just like the rest of the school. However, when Galinda chooses kindness over popularity at the party, she finds in intimate and close friendship in Elphaba that we see progress throughout the story. Eventually, we see that things have changed for Galinda when the two sing the beautiful song, ‘For Good’. Popularity and fame doesn’t always bring true friendship. It brings respect and fans, but how often do we share secrets with our fans? Kindness is the one of the most important gifts that we can ever give. Everyone needs someone to lean on; someone to listen to them and someone to listen to. I believe that Galinda truly found herself when she chose kindness over her popularity.
Don’t let yourself be dictated to, and keep getting up when you fall
Elphaba was pushed down so many times, but each time, she got back up. Like she said, ‘everyone deserves a chance to fly.’ Her drive and her strong beliefs is what got her through and it’s what gave her confidence; not the group of people standing with her supporting what she was all for. She is the perfect example of someone who had the support of no one, and yet her confidence in herself brought her to new heights. Confidence is a mindset; it’s an attitude based on belief that gets us through tough times. Negative thoughts and words aimed at ourselves and others have meaning, just like positive words and thoughts do.
Your future is unlimited
Like in the well-known song, Defying Gravity, Elphaba says that hers and Galinda’s futures are unlimited. And that is the same for all of us. Our futures are unlimited, so why restrict ourselves? If we work hard enough and if we believe in ourselves, then we can reach anything we want to. Our pasts cannot and will not dictate our futures unless we let them. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says that he has a great plan for us, to give us a future and a hope. It says nothing about our pasts, only about our futures being amazing. Even when that woman in the bible was being condemned by the people, Jesus had mercy on her, telling her she was forgiven and to let go of her past and move into a brighter future.
Sometimes some people are going to have it easier than others, but that doesn’t mean those who have to work for what they have are any less valuable
Galinda was handed everything and she became Galinda the Good. Just because she was pretty and popular at Shiz, her life was a breeze and when something or someone different came into her life, it was a huge blow for her. Just because she looked different to Elphaba, the wizard assumed that she was not on Elphaba’s side and enlisted her for his team. On the other hand, Elphaba was shunned her entire life by her own father, her sister, the wizard, her school, and everyone else. But she still rose up for what she believed in. She worked hard for what she wanted. But she still earned the name of The Wicked Witch of The West. Elphaba is just proof that sometimes, titles don’t matter. But most of the time, it means everything because the public says so. Elphaba’s heart is the most important thing. Just because no one can see her heart, doesn’t mean it’s evil. Man sees the outward appearance, but God sees the heart. It’s easy to get discouraged from doing what is right, and just doing what is easy and accepted because ‘it doesn’t matter’. But the truth is, it matters. The creator of the universe, the one who made us in his own image sees us, and it all matters to him.
If someone really loves you, they will challenge you to be yourself
When Galinda first becomes friends with Elphaba, she sings ‘Popular’, where she describes how she is going to change Elphaba to become popular. However, as the story progresses, both young women see that to be real friends, they both have to be themselves, and this is truly evident in their songs ‘For Good’ and in ‘Defying Gravity’ when they both go their own ways. However, even if they disagree on certain things and they end up separated, they still love and respect each other, and nothing has changed. They choose to love each other even with their imperfections. We see throughout the show that Galinda doesn’t stop acting perky and wearing beautiful gowns with sparkles and sequins and Elphaba doesn’t stop wearing her black and drab clothes. Even when they sing the song ‘For Good’ and they say they have both changed, their outward appearances are still the same. What is inside is what has truly changed for the better.
Someone who loves you should not try to make you into someone different. They shouldn’t try and change you. Sure, they can be honest with you to a point, but if they are pressuring you to do something you’re not comfortable with, or you feel is wrong, they aren’t true friends and you are better off without their negative impact on your life.
And those are the few nuggets of wisdom that Wicked has to share. I’m sure there are plenty more to share, and if you have seen the musical and I missed something, leave it in a comment below!
Have you seen this musical? What is your favourite song from the musical? Do you agree or disagree with what I wrote?