When I was a kid, two movies would come on television each year and captivate the entire country. Remember, there were only three major television networks, so virtually everyone was watching the same thing. One of those movies was “Gone With the Wind.” The other was “The Wizard of Oz.”
My family, like every other family, watched each of them every time they were broadcast on television. I know both movies inside and out. I know the Carol Burnett parody of “GWTW” almost as well as I know the real movie. And I know the other one, too. I watched it every year. I just hate those damn flying monkeys.
I really don’t know what it was about the flying monkeys that terrified me so, but I hated that part of the movie. I wouldn’t turn away, but I would dream about it for days afterward.
It’s really a pretty dark story if you think about it. A girl disobeys her guardians and gets sent to Purgatory to try to figure out what she did wrong and how she can get back to the ones she loves. When she lands in a new town the first thing she does is kill somebody and steal her shoes. Then she runs off with a dude she just met to meet “the Wizard.” It’s like a really dark “After School Special.” They even almost die in a poppy field. This is not a movie for children.
Which is what makes the play “Wicked” so good. It starts from the viewpoint that the story you grew up with is incomplete at best and then fills in the gaps. It is a genius bit of scriptwriting that takes us from the story we know so well to the new “truth” in Oz. I wish that I had written it.
Blogger’s aside: I have also read the book from which the play was allegedly adapted. If you enjoyed the play, do not read the book. Other than the character’s names and a few other items, the play is not the same story as the book. If you have neither seen the play nor read the book, see the play before you read the book. Just trust me on this one.
Peggy and I saw “Wicked” again this afternoon at the “Broadway in Austin” musical series. The story is clever and the writing is great, but it is the music that takes the show and your emotions to an entirely different level. We see the show every chance we get, and so far it has never disappointed. I cannot recommend it enough. In fact, if you get to the intermission and you haven’t already decided you love it, you might need to see a doctor. Or, like the Tin Man, you might need a heart…
Here is the capper — now that I have seen the play I don’t hate the flying monkeys anymore. How’s that for closure?
It is just so good.