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Wicked Synopsis

Wicked the musical offers a prequel to The Wizard of Oz story, leading up to the moment when Dorothy's house falls on the green witch's sister, and continuing for a few more scenes.

STORY IN CONTEXT OF THE SONGS - A detailed Wicked summary with minimal spoilers.

Carol de GiereNotes by Carol de Giere, webmaster for this web site and the official fan site for Wicked composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz. To understand the following you need to have heard the Wicked Cast album - Wicked Shop [buy CD or hear audio clips if you haven't already]

My comments are meant to add meaning without giving much away, because the surprises are a big part of the delight of Wicked. I'm also offering my opinion on why each song is needed to move the story forward in terms of the plot and emotional throughlines.

Wicked story and characters

The lyrics and music of Wicked as presented on the Wicked cast album help us keep track of the relationships between key players:

  • Elphaba and Glinda (for the buddy story),
  • Elphaba, Dr. Dillamond, and the Wizard (the political story),
  • Elphaba and Fiyero (the romance),
  • Nessarose and Boq (subplot), etc.

Note that in Maguire's novel and in this musical, "Glinda" the good-witch-to-be was originally named "Galinda," but changes her name part way through the tale as a display of solidarity for Professor Dillamond. For more details on the characters
see: Wicked characters

Wicked opening scene

ACT I
1. NO ONE MOURNS THE WICKED - Sung by Glinda and Citizens of Oz

Wicked Glinda in a bubbleCombining celebrative feeling with the show's edgy irony, this somewhat melancholy and dramatic song introduces the frame for the storyline. The musical begins with the celebration of the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, as we would have seen towards the end of The Wizard of Oz movie, just after Dorothy melted her by accidentally throwing a bucket of water in her direction. Here we first meet Glinda and learn the "official" story of the Wicked Witch's demise. At the end of the song and scene, the timeline shifts to Elphaba's birth with her ferny-green skin. "No One Mourns the Wicked" introduces the "Things are not what they seem" theme, which the audience will appreciate by the finale.

2. DEAR OLD SHIZ - Galinda and Students

The story shifts to Shiz University about 18 years after Elphaba's birth. During "Dear Old Shiz" students enter little by little, culminating in Galinda's grand arrival, riding a luggage cart pushed in by someone else. The harmony of this brief choral number suggests a sense of togetherness of the student body, however they turn out to be quite unaccepting of a certain green-skinned freshman.

3. THE WIZARD AND I - Morrible, Elphaba

This is Elphaba's "I Want" number. It introduces what she wants on the surface. It also hints at her subconscious desire to be accepted by a fatherly figure that the Wizard represents, as made more poignant by her being snubbed by Frex, the father she grew up with who favors the other daughter, Nessarose. For details on the development of this song, subscribe to The Schwartz Scene , and check back Issue 13.

WHAT IS THIS FEELING? - Galinda, Elphaba, and Students

Elphaba (Idina Menzel) and Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth)There has to be a moment when we see the future friends as enemies. This is the beginning of their journey to friendship-the initial loathing that shifts to a deep bond later on.

5. SOMETHING BAD (is happening in Oz) - Dr. Dillamond and Elphaba

The mistreatment of talking Animals provides a storytelling vehicle for the political element of the tale. Something "Baaaaad" (as bleated by the talking Goat professor Dr. Dillamond who may be losing his voice) introduces the conflict between the Wizard, Madame Morrible, and the Animals without giving away the whole story. This song hints at the nature of the Animal oppression. It also provides a context for the interaction between the goat and Elphaba, and on stage it's clear that these two at the fringe of Oz society are beginning to care about each other's welfare.

6. DANCING THROUGH LIFE-Fiyero, Galinda, Boq, Nessarose, Elphaba, and Students

A flunk-out from various other colleges, Prince Fiyero struts his stuff when he shows up at Shiz and introduces his philosophy "Dancing Through Life." In this song sequence, we are introduced to parts of the love triangles in the story: Nessarose longs for the attention of the munchkin Boq, who himself has been stricken with the charm of the unreachable Galinda from the moment he laid eyes on her. Events that occur in the course of this sequence change Elphaba's and Galinda's relationship, beginning its ascent to friendship.

Glinda doing a make over on Elphaba

7. POPULAR-Galinda

Glinda takes on Elphaba as her "project" to make her cool and accepted. During a make-over session where she dolls up her roommie, she sings this song. "Popular" is a "list song" in which Galinda enumerates her suggestions for what it takes to be popular. She also demonstrates the self-absorbed, prideful side of her character. (Kristin Chenoweth said her models for Galinda included the pageant girls she met earlier in her life.) It sets up what Elphaba is expected to want and therefore provides a contrast for her decision to reject popularity for the sake of principles.

8. I'M NOT THAT GIRL - Elphaba

Boy meets girl Number 1 (Elphaba). Boy goes off with girl Number 2 (Galinda). Girl Number 1 is sad and needs to sing about it. Galinda changes her name to Glinda before her Emerald City trip

Wicked scene in the Emerald City9. ONE SHORT DAY - Glinda, Elphaba, and Denizens of the Emerald City

It's gonna be a short day, though joyous at first. Elphaba is surrounded by green and is on her way to meet the Wizard who she may be able to work with in order to make Oz a better place and become accepted herself. The Wizomania section of the song is actually performed as a mini-musical that Elphaba and Glinda are attending as tourist in the Emerald City.

10. A SENTIMENTAL MAN-The Wizard

Elphaba and Glinda gain an audience with the Wizard. In this scene he sings "A Sentimental Man," showing off what might be his tender side (false or real, we don't know at first.) He gains Elphaba's trust--but not for long.

Wicked Defying Gravity scene11. DEFYING GRAVITY - Elphaba, Glinda, Guards and Citizens of Oz

Glinda would like to see Elphaba conform and also realize her dream as expressed in "The Wizard and I." But when Elphaba discovers that the Wizard is behind the mistreatment of animals (as in Maguire's novel), she must change her dream. She takes a stand. This is her moment when she resolves to follow her new conviction based on her inner moral sense and care for Dr. Dillamond, even though it means social rejection.

ACT II

12. THANK GOODNESS --Glinda, Morrible, and Citizens of Oz

With Elphaba temporarily out of the picture, Glinda and Morrible have staged a grand announcement of Glinda's engagement to Fiyero--something she made up and is planning to surprise him. Citizens of Oz show up in their colorful green outfits.

In this song we feel Fiyero's pull towards the missing green girl and his cavalier attitude towards Glinda, who has more or less foisted herself upon him. "Thank Goodness," while offering a word play with Glinda the Good, is all about the irony of the situation. It's also about those experiences in everyone's life when what was anticipated turns out not to be so desirable as we once thought.

13. WONDERFUL - The Wizard, Elphaba

Elphaba comes back to try and free the flying monkeys. The Wizard tries again to befriend her. We learn he got swept up (like Glinda) in the glamour of attention. He holds out the promise to Elphaba that, with him, she can fulfill her subconscious longing to be accepted by a fatherly figure.

She makes a discovery that proves he has negative intentions towards the Animals and this polarizes her against him again. Fiyero runs off with her.

14. I'M NOT THAT GIRL (reprise) - Glinda

In Act I, Boy went off with Girl Number 2 (Glinda). Now Girl Number 2 gets rejected when Boy goes off with Girl Number 1 (Elphaba). Glinda needs to sing about it. It helps us appreciate Girl Number 2's hurt that will motivate some of her later actions.

Fiyero and Elphaba (Norbert and Idina)15. AS LONG AS YOU'RE MINE - Elphaba and Fiyero

It's been an almost impossible journey to romance. These two need to sing about it, make up for lost time, and comment on their future, which is completely insecure except for their mutual affection.

16. NO GOOD DEED - Elphaba

This song moment harkens back to the novel. When something negative happens to Fiyero, Elphaba becomes discouraged and begins in a sense to own the reputation that has been thrust upon her.

17. MARCH OF THE WITCH HUNTERS - Boq and Citizens of Oz

Affected by the smear campaign conducted by Madame Morrible and the Wizard, the Ozians set out to find the supposedly wicked Witch. They are ignorant of Elphaba's attempts to save the Animals.

Elphaba gives glinda the Grimmerie18. FOR GOOD - Glinda and Elphaba

Glinda and Elphaba, whose friendship has been tested by circumstances and by the challenges of their relationship with Fiyero, find a way to see beyond their issues and feel their mutual love. They sing to each knowing "it well may be/that we will never meet again/in this lifetime..."

19. FINALE - All

We have come full circle to the melting scene and beyond, but things are not what they seemed when we started. Now we can appreciate the complete shifts that all the characters have gone through except Madame Morrible. It becomes clear why the music takes a slightly mournful tone. It's sad that no one mourns the supposedly "wicked" outcasts who may actually be the most worthy of our praise. It underscores the social message: don't jump too quickly to judge by what you see happening on the surface. Copyright by Carol de Giere, February 2006.

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To read more about Wicked buy Wicked: The Grimmerie - See the Wicked Shop. Also available: Sheet music for all Wicked songs.


Wicked cast albumDo you have the Wicked cast album? To read about some of the original Broadway stars who are featured on the album go to:

wickedwestend.co.uk
Carol's Wicked UK Site. Carol is also webmaster for the official fan site for Wicked's composer Stephen Schwartz