As a fan of Wicked, I had the absolutely joyous pleasure of attending the closing performance in Sydney this year, which was not only a farewell to The Capitol Theatre, but also a farewell to Lucy Durack and Reg Livermore. As the tears flowed during Lucy’s and Jemma Rix’s last “For Good” and after every rapturous round of applause, I could only reflect on the other major closing show I’ve been to, Rock of Ages in Melbourne in 2011. It was one of the craziest performances I’ve ever witnessed, made all the more awesome by my fellow ROA fans.
This wonderful sense of fandom made me go in search of Wicked lovers from all around the world (I believe they call themselves Ozians) and ask them a few questions about the Emerald City, the witches of Oz and what keeps them coming back to Wicked…
“Many people say that Wicked is about friendship, and while I definitely believe that, I think it is more,” says Maddi Ostapiw from Australia. She continues “I’m a very strong feminist and believe that Wicked is one of the strongest musicals out there concerning female empowerment, and every time I see it I am convinced that one day women will take over the world.”
For Abe, from the USA, Wicked was a show he discovered later in its popularity. “I’m attracted to the talented actors who are continually cast in the show. As for the show itself, I love the concept of the backstory/prequel of such an iconic story as The Wizard of Oz. Add in great songs and wonderful choreography, and you have a fun show that can be enjoyed over and over again.”
The music of Wicked.
Many people cite the score of Wicked as the main reason they love the show, and believe that the score heralded the return of a traditional musical theatre style to Broadway. The big numbers (‘Defying Gravity’, ‘No Good Deed’) are among the most beloved, but even the smaller numbers that may not make an impact on the casual Wicked viewer are not wasted on Wicked super fans.
For Maddi, her top choice is ‘As Long As You’re Mine’. “It changes every single time I see it/watch a different Fiyeraba (the fan name for the Elphaba/Fiyero pairing) on YouTube, and I can’t believe that such simple staging and direction could allow room for such a large amount of interpretation from the actors.”
Abe has a soft spot for another Wicked duet, ‘What is this Feeling’. “The interplay between Elphaba and Glinda, coupled with the ensemble backing and choreography… It’s so great!”
Another reason fans fall victim to the charm of Wicked lies within the witty dialogue of the show. Emotional moments of friendship and romantic love are highlighted by traumatic or comedic sections throughout the musical, and there is always a sneaky Wizard of Oz reference hiding around the corner…
I asked our super fans their favourite lines, and was met with a chorus of different answers.
Lisa (Australia) – “I mean c’mon they’re just shoes, LET IT GO!”
Abe (America) – “Just wear the frock. It’s pretty.”
Maddi (Australia) – “Unlimited.” – Maddi, who plans to design a tattoo with this line and the accompanying sheet music. She told me that she has always loved the melodic reflection of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ that this section of music invokes, which is something I’ve never noticed before and will have to keep a listen out for next time I’m listening to the cast recording… Have you picked this musical tie-in up yet?
Alex (New Zealand) – ” “If I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free.”
Wicked Muck Ups and Mishaps.
“My favourite ad-lib moment was Idina’s last scheduled performance.” says Maddi. “She had injured her back the day before and could not appear in her last performance, so at the end when Elphaba emerges from the trap door Idina walked out from side stage to applause that lasted for around five minutes. The YouTube video of it is crazy, and shows the overwhelming love that Wicked first received in New York and is still enjoying today.”
Above: The infamous red tracksuit worn by Idina in her final scheduled performance of Wicked, returning from a hospital stay after she injured herself during her penultimate show. These moments are known as some of the most intense Wicked fandom moments.
Amanda, another super fan, is lucky enough to have witnessed the West End tradition of the Muck Up Matinee – the last matinee of a cast before new actors assume the role. The cast ‘mucks up’ and there is always some fun and crazy shenanigans. “Kieran Brown once delivered the perfect line when Fiyero asks him as the Wizards guard to fetch him some water, the line is ‘Water Sir,’ but as a muck up he said ‘Still or Sparkling, Sir?’ which was priceless and will always be one of my many favourites.”
Another muck-up favourite from Amanda is Rachel Tucker in her final Elphaba performance. “Where normally Elphie just makes a melting sound, she added the famous lines from The Wizard of Oz film. ‘You cursed brat, look what you’ve done, I’m melting, melting!’”
“I also have to mention the complete and utter genius of Gina Beck.” continues Amanda. “I saw her Glinda 102 times & every single time she changed up her ‘Popular Jig’. When a performer goes out of their way to keep it fresh & fun it’s very much appreciated.”
The Memorabilia of Wicked.
Maddi collects Wicked Playbills and Amanda owns a Wicked Hoodie that once belonged to Louise Dearman (the first actress to play the roles of both Elphaba and Glinda) signed by Louise’s castmates at the time.
However, here at Theatre People we think the most Wicked piece of memorabilia belongs to Lisa. A devoted lover of Wicked Australia and a wonderfully creative person, Lisa has spent over 100 hours making a replica of Elphaba’s Act II dress, which she debuted at the Sydney closing and has since worn to performances in subsequent states.
Above: Jemma Rix, Suzie Mathers and Lisa in her handmade Act II dress. Follow Lisa on instagram.
What about a Wicked movie?
Lisa, Abe and Amanda all agree (as do I) that if a movie does get made, it should star musical theatre actors who have actually played the roles on stage, rather than famous faces.
Amanda has a slightly different idea… “I think if they can’t just film it from stage, or make it really feel like the Wicked Musical theatre land has grown to love, then they should make it Disney very similar to Frozen. Whoever was behind that needs to do Wicked. There is an artist called Squeegool who does the most incredible art work for fun for the performers in the show, I think they should be hired to do the animation!”
Maddi had the final word on the subject, though. “Ugh, let’s not have a movie. Let’s keep paying $100 a ticket to see the show…”
Alas, that last sentiment will not work with the final performance of Wicked playing later today.
It’s going to be a tough adjustment, but the super fans of Wicked will continue to love the show as fiercely as Elphaba, Fiyero and G(a)linda love each other. A personal thank you is given from all the people the Australian company have inspired over the last few years, and a massive congratulotions for a job more than well done.