Wicked turns 20: The Wizardy of its mystifying soundtrack

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Wicked, the Broadway musical that reveals the ‘untold story of the witches of OZ’ is turning 20 this year. Despite that, it still plays to packed audiences, both on Broadway where it has run since 2003 at the Gershwin Theatre and in London at the Apollo Victoria Theatre since 2006. An undebatable part of its appeal has to be the iconic music. After all, you can’t have a musical without the music.

The music spans a wide variety of inspirations and genres from the traditional musical style (“No One Mourns the Wicked”, “Wonderful”), love ballads (“As Long As Your Mine”) and bubble-gum pop (“Popular”), in which Glinda testifies the importance of being popular to Elphaba.

The music and themes put forward play an important role in developing Wicked’s many character arcs. For now, we’ll focus on Glinda. “Popular” develops into Act 2 opener “Thank Goodness”, where her popularity has grown. She is now a prominent figure in Oz, but this hasn’t made her as happy as she thought it would. “There’s a kind of a sort of cost, there’s a couple of things get lost,” she confesses to herself before the slower melody of the song grows to a crescendo and she puts forward this false image of happiness to keep the spirits of Oz high. 

This all culminates in the bittersweet ‘For Good’. Glinda and Elphaba both reflect on the impact they have had on each other and one another’s lives. The significant musical focus here is the vocal swap of Elphaba and Glinda. The latter sings the lower part and Elphie the higher, contrasting the other pieces where Glinda often sings operatically high. The choice truly reflects how they have changed each other ‘For Good’.

Featured Image Credit: Universal Stage Production

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Film & Media & Journalism Student
Here to review, discuss & celebrate all things film.
contact me: bem00218@students.stir.ac.uk

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