Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Magic Power of the Music

You know how it is when you get something stuck in your head and it just won't go away? I've been thinking a lot about Wicked, which as I mentioned earlier I saw this past Saturday night. The more time that passes and the more it gels in my brain, the more I love this musical.

From a story perspective, I have to admit the show is lacking. The basic premise of why Elphaba - the future Wicked Witch of the West - seems to "go bad" is kind of weak. I don't think it's weak because it's really weak, more so that the limitations of a musical that already lasts 2 hours and 45 minutes can only allow so much.

And it could be the fact that I'm a hopeless romantic (duh!), but I wish more time had been spent on the relationship between Elphaba and Fiyero. Heck, I would have enjoyed the musical that much more if the entire thing had swung around the relationship between Elphaba and Fiyero.

No, what makes this musical my current obsession is the music. I can't stop thinking about the music.

I don't see many musicals, despite the fact that I live in the third largest city in the US, a city with a wonderful theater district. It's simply too expensive. By the time you buy tickets (our decent-but-too-far-stage-right front row balcony seats cost a whopping $85 a piece), pay for a babysitter, pay for city parking, and do dinner, you are talking an evening that costs a couple hundred dollars minimum. That's something that's a once-a-year special treat.

I've lived here for a dozen years now, and I've seen maybe half that many musicals. I did see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat twice. My defense is that the company featured the incomporable Donny Osmond in the role of Joseph, and we took both my parents and my husband's parents on different nights. My mom, aunt, cousin and I managed to snag great seats to Mamma Mia via Hot Tix, a forum where you can buy same-night theater tickets at reduced prices. I've also seen Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria (I actually liked the movie better), and productions of Evita, Little Shop of Horrors, and a couple others that don't immediately come to mind.

Of what I have seen, Joseph, Mamaa Mia, and, now, Wicked stand out in my mind as my favorites. And when I examine why this is so, in every case it's because of the music.

I'm in complete awe how a story can be told via the music. How the lyrics advance the plot and do so much to explain the internal dialogue that can't be shown in a traditional stage production. I was nodding my head when I read an article that talked about how first, a Wicked screenplay for a movie was attempted but quickly abandoned when the writers realized it would be nearly impossible to express the internal workings of the characters on film. However, a musical perfectly lent itself to such a story because emotions and internal motivation could be expressed via song to very good effect.

Not only do the words explain so much, the music itself can create such intese emotion I sit there slack jawed. Coupled with an actor or actress who can sing in ways that make me green and purple with envy, you have to shake me once the whole thing is over to get me to stand up and leave the theatre.

For example, probably my favorite song from Wicked - "No Good Deed" - is so moving it keeps bringing me to tears. Elphaba's anguish is wide open for all to hear (no doubt aided by Ana Gasteyer's amazing vocals) in such a way that I ache for her character in a way no book or movie has the power to make me do. Even as I listen to the CD track over and over, I still feel the tears welling in my eyes.

If I could ask for any one talent, I think it would be the ability to create music. To sing in such a way that moves people to tears, or to write the songs that inspire the same. Perhaps it's because my own abilities lie in the visual rather than the audible that I have such envy.

All I know is I have to thank these people who create such amazing things so that I can enjoy them. I sat in that theatre on Saturday night just overwhelmed by the power and beauty of what human beings can create when they put their minds to it.

No comments: