Day 179: Front Row Seats at Wicked


I love musicals. I’ve seen several live performances, in Dallas and Tulsa, including Phantom of the Opera, The Addams Family, Jekyll & Hyde and Wicked. Today, my sisters Linda and Debbie and my niece Ashley and I attended a matinee performance of Wicked at the Tulsa Performing Art Center. This was my fifth time to see this amazing musical, however, it was my first time to see it from a front row seat. Special thanks go to Ashley for securing such spectacular seats.

Wicked is the untold story behind the Wizard of Oz. Long before Dorothy showed up from Kansas, two girls meet in Oz and form an unlikely friendship. One is beautiful, popular, ambitious and blond. The other is intelligent, fiery, misunderstood and green. The story follows the girls through high school and beyond. The relationship that develops between these two girls and how Elphaba becomes the Wicked Witch of the West while the other becomes Glinda the Good makes for “the most complete….and completely satisfying musical….in a long time.” (USA Today)

The musical premiered on Broadway in 2003 and has had a continual run since. The original Broadway musical launched the careers of Idina Menzel, who played the green skinned Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth, who played the perky Glinda. The success of the Broadway production spawned a North American Tour that has played for more than 2 million viewers. I have had the privilege of being one of those viewers.


The musical is the perfect blend of humor, drama, romance and angst. Cast members in this production include Gina Beck as Galinda/Glinda, Emma Hunton as Elphaba and Nick Adams as Fiyero. All had incredible voices. Gina captured Glinda’s bubbly blond personality while Emma’s powerful voice and expressive face brought depth to her portrayal of Elphaba. Nick was a handsome Fiyero with just the right amount of fun loving swagger and sensuality. Sitting in the front row was absolutely amazing. I could see every expression of the performers, which added considerably to the overall performance. When Elphaba sang, “I’m Not That Girl”, I could see tears glittering in her eyes.

Glinda, with her narcissism and use of made up words, contributes most of the humor to Wicked. She appears shallow and yet she genuinely comes to care for the green girl who has always considered herself an outsider. I love the scene with the song “Popular” in which Glinda endeavors to give Elphaba a makeover, attempting to ease the girl’s awkwardness and give her a measure of popularity. I can’t help but like Glinda. She sees the world simply and at heart, she is truly good.

But it is Elphaba whom I am drawn to. Her outward appearance frightens people and yet, she possesses a keen intelligence and a compassionate heart, and yes, a quick temper. She despises injustice and popularity is not important to her. My heart aches for her as she reaches out, tentatively, to connect with others. When her trust in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz is dashed, Elphaba embraces the wicked persona that everyone expects her to have. Her song, “Defying Gravity”, is the most powerful of the musical and the turning point in the story. Tears fill my eyes every time I hear it and see Elphaba’s transformation from misunderstood young woman to Wicked Witch of the West.

What a fun afternoon this was, watching Wicked and sharing time and space with my family. I never tire of doing either! Being so close to the stage allowed me to totally tune out the thousands of people in the audience and be immersed into the magic of the musical. I’m afraid the experience may have set a precedent for future musicals, as I would now like to see all of them from the vantage point of the first few rows. Ashley, work your magic, for Phantom of the Opera will return next April!


wicked 3e

Day 178: Winter’s Tale


This movie played at the theater in February of this year. I saw the preview several times and was captivated by what I saw. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the film on the big screen. I’ve been waiting for the dvd release, checking on it periodically. Tuesday of this week it became available. For my first today, I watched Winter’s Tale.

Winter’s Tale stars Colin Farrell, Russell Crow, Jessica Brown Findlay, William Hurt, Will Smith and Jennifer Connelly. The film, classified as a fantasy drama, was written and directed by Akiva Goldsman and is based on the novel of the same title, written by Mark Helprin. It is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 1 hour and 58 minutes.

Set in New York, and spanning more than 100 years, the story follows Irishman Peter Lake, played by Colin Farrell. His immigrant parents, who were not allowed to enter the United States, secretly send their son to shore in a small boat. As a youth, he learns to survive by stealing. He is a very good thief, combining his desire to live with a knack for manipulating mechanical things, such as safes. He’s had a falling out with local bad man, Pearly Soames, played menacingly by Russell Crow, who wants Peter dead. Peter finds a magical white horse, and together they rob a few mansions to pay for the necessary trip out of town, and away from harm’s way.

In the last house he intends to rob, Peter meets heiress Beverly Penn (Jessical Brown Findlay) a beautiful young woman who is dying of consumption. The course of their lives changes as Peter falls in love with Beverly and hopes that his love for her is so strong that she will be able to cheat death. Beverly, who has accepted her fate, wants to experience love and romance before she dies.

This was a beautiful movie. It doesn’t matter to me that critics snubbed it. Some films I simply enjoy and watch for entertainment. Some I watch because they are inspirational or based on true stories and I learn from them. There are a few that I feel compelled to watch, and as I view them, I am touched deeply. Winter’s Tale is such a movie for me. The opening prologue, spoken by Jessica Brown Findlay’s character, Beverly, so captured me that I played it over and over before letting the move continue. She says, “Destiny calls to each of us. And there is a world behind the world where we are all connected. All part of a great and moving plan. Magic is everywhere around us. You just have to look. Look. Look closely….”

Cleverly disguised as a romance movie, Winter’s Tale is, instead, a movie about the connections we all have and how we offer to each other. It is about the larger picture and our roles in it. Peter thinks he is on the earth to save Beverly, and yet, it is what she offers to Peter that is essential. And on a much larger scale, the movie is about the battle between good and evil. Several of the characters in this movie are much more than they seem to be, including the white horse Peter is so “fortunate” to find.

I’ll be thinking about Winter’s Tale for days to come. It reminds me that I, too, have a role to play in this larger story called Life that is unfolding around me. I have gifts to offer to others and my existence here is purposeful and crucial. This is true for everyone. I want to ponder the story line over the weekend and then watch the movie again. I’m also interested in reading the book the movie is based on. Mostly, though, Winter’s Tale caused me to look inward and contemplate life and how I am connected to others and to God, and how, with raised  awareness, I see the shimmering Light that binds us all, everywhere. That’s no small feat for a movie to accomplish!