It’s not unusual for me to be late to the party, so no big surprise that I saw the Broadway show “Wicked” for the first time this afternoon. I’ve been hearing about it for years, of course, and I’ve even seen some of the songs performed on television and on YouTube. I knew in a general way what it was about, but somehow in all this time I never learned or guessed the ending. I actually said, “Whoa!” out loud. I did like the show. I wasn’t sure based on the soundtrack; songs like “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” are great, but some of the tunes are kind of loose and talky. They came across better in performance. All the performers in this touring company were terrific, and the set and other technical aspects looked sharp, at least to me. Never having seen it before, I didn’t have an eye for any corners that might have been cut or any costumes or set pieces that weren’t as fresh as in the beginning.
I was surprised there weren’t more little girls there. I’d always heard girls simply love this show. That’s why Diamondqueen decided to take S.Hooligan. Grandma was supposed to come as well, but she’s got a nasty bronchial complaint and wasn’t up to going. S.Hooligan told several people, including an elevator full of theater-goers, that “we have an extra ticket, my Grandma couldn’t come.”
S.Hooligan claimed she didn’t like the show, but I kept watching her through both acts, and she seemed rapt, hardly moving a muscle during the last half. She did wind up going into one of her patented fits of temperament when it was time to visit the souvenir shop. She found out before the show started that there were things to be bought, and Diamondqueen promised her we’d shop after the performance was done.
When the time came, S. stood staring at the various pieces of jewelry, the t-shirts and stuffed flying monkey, and other goodies, and burst into tears. Each time Diamondqueen tried to guide her away, S. wailed, but was just as emotional viewing the selection of merchandise. I thought maybe she was drained from the long performance, and maybe even she’d gotten wrapped up in the emotions of the second act. Diamondqueen theorized later that the souvenir stand didn’t have anything S. wanted, but that S. couldn’t stand the thought of not buying something. She finally settled on a pen with a light in the other end that projects the “Wicked” logo. Diamondqueen was so rattled she treated herself to a stuffed monkey.
Later I asked S.Hooligan if there was something she thought the souvenir stand might have. “A mechanical dragon,” she told me. She’d become enamored of the huge articulated metal dragon that hangs above the stage and comes to smoke-breathing life a couple of times during the show. God knows what she’d built up in her mind that she’d be able to buy in the lobby.
I guess it’s not unreasonable to have expected some form of the dragon, although it struck me as superfluous, not an integral part of the performance to begin with. But “Spamalot” did sell killer rabbits, including
killer* rabbit house slippers that J.Hooligan wears to this day. So a mechanical dragon something-or-other might represent a hole in the “Wicked” merchandising. Of course, if it didn’t breath smoke and flash its eyes, S.Hooligan still probably wouldn’t have been satisfied.
*Okay, Diamondqueen informs me those slippers are NOT killer rabbit slippers; just formerly white furry bunnies. Right now they look more like roadkill slippers, they’re so gray and worn, so I’m not sure the distinction matters anyhow.