On Wednesday night The Pea and I had a real treat: we went for a Girls Night Out in San Francisco to watch Steven Schwartz's smash hit, the musical Wicked, which is playing in San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre. I knew I would have a marvelous time, but I was a bit nervous about taking The Pea along, since she's at the lower end of the age recommendation for children (ages 8 and up), and she has always been a cryer at movies and plays. But I needn't have worried, she laughed at all the funny parts, cried at all the sad parts and enjoyed it as much as I did.
Wicked the Musical is based on author Gregory Maguire's novel, which is sort of a prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. It tells of how the witches of Oz, Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West, became who they are. The show features the music and lyrics of Stephen Schwartz and the book fo Winnie Holzman. It has been one of Broadway's higest grossing shows for four years, with shows in New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Japan and Germany (as well as a touring show). Wicked is now back in San Francisco, the city where it made its pre-Broadway world premiere in 2003, for an extended run.
Wow..... what can I say, except... that show was Wicked. I'm not surprised it's such a Blockbuster hit! It was real first class Broadway production, and I loved everything about it -- the music, the scenery, the costumes, the actors.
But most of all, I loved the story, which is funny and touching and eye-opening all at the same time. I'm going to have to read Gregory McGuire's novel now! Who would have thought that Oz's Wicked Witch of the West was not actually wicked -- that she was, in fact, just an animal rights activist who was the victim of a smear campaign! From the very beginning the audience's heart goes out to Alphaba (yes, the Wicked Witch has a name) as she enters school, singled out and made fun of because of her green skin. I quite like this "other side" to the Wicked Witch! And I'm hoping The Pea left the show with some really meaty thoughts of her own: how there are always two sides to a story, how the way history is portrayed is dependent on who's doing the writing, how easily people can be misled, and how important it is to stick to your convictions -- and to your friends.
There isn't really anything I disliked about the musical itself, but have a feeling that having 2pm matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays might encourage people to let their younger children watch the show. The age recommendation is 8 and up, and children under 5 are not allowed in the theater, but I would strongly discourage parents from taking their 5 and 6 year olds. Yes, a lot of it is light and funny, but there are so many mature themes (extramarital affairs, racial discrimination, treachery) that are difficult to gloss over because they're presented in such a frank way. There are also scary scenes and characters (the Winged Monkeys, the fire-breathing dragon, the fiery fake talking Oz head) that might be difficult to banish from overactive young imaginations.
The Bottom Line
Wicked is solid entertainment: talented actors, lavish costumes, superb special effects, amazing music and a story that gets you thinking long after the show has ended.
Wicked at the Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St. (at 8th St.), San Francisco CA 94102
Tuesdays at 8:00pm
Wednesdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Thursdays at 8:00pm
Fridays at 8:00pm
Saturdays at 2:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays at 8:00pm
Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes, with 15 minute intermission.
Recommended age for children is 8 and up.
No children under 5 permitted. No one will be admitted without a ticket.
The show has no end date as of this time; tickets are being sold through March 27.
Disclaimer: I received complimentary tickets to this event, courtesy of Wicked, but no monetary compensation. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.