Will Wicked The Musical Ever Rule the World?
I have a confession to make. I’ve wondered, will Wicked the Musical ever rule the world? Maybe so.
The first time I saw the musical Wicked, I didn’t care for it too much.
Can you believe it?
Let me explain. Wicked opened in October of 2003. The first time I learned of it was while watching the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade. They presented a preview of it. All I noticed were the costumes and hats.
It just looked weird, like it was trying too hard. A musical about the backstory about Glenda and Elphaba? In opinion (and aren’t we glad I was wrong) there wasn’t much way this musical would be popular and stick around for a long time.
The next year, we took a school group on spring break to see the production. I really enjoyed it.
Our youngest daughter, age 15 returned home from the trip starstruck. She wore out the CD as she listened and sang to it for probably a year.
A year went by and the show, became very popular and well, the rest is history!
What makes Wicked so popular?
Where do I begin to answer this question.
I create drama education lessons and Wicked was one of the first Broadway musicals which I examined. Although I greatly enjoyed the musical, I never thought about the elements which would be terrific to teach in the classroom. Oh. my. gosh
Four Reasons for Wicked the Broadway Musical’s Excellence
1.Costumes--First, the show won a Tony award for Best Costume Design and it is easy to see why. Here’s a quote from the designer, Susan Hilferty concerning her concept: “The whole idea of the clothes of the citizens of Oz—I imagined that in 1911, basically when the book was written, as if a chunk of earth had been lifted off and sent out into the universe.The whole idea of the clothes of the citizens of Oz are their own distortion and changing of the Edwardian Era. When I was looking at all the clothes, I was looking at various clothes from the Edwardian time, and then twisting them on their center. The twist actually has nothing to do with the tornado.” Check out this video about Hiferty’s costumes: Threadbanger: Interiew with Susan Hilferty, Costume Designer and/or pick up my new Costume Design with Wicked Characters Lesson
Will Wicked The Musical Ever Rule the World?
2. Set–Set Designer Eugene Lee won the Tony for Best Set Design. Concerning the set, “We opted to create an environment inspired by the inner workings of a clock. The shapes, textures, colors, and functional aspects of clock gears and mechanisms contributed to a permanent environmental structure, which defines the stage space.” What of the materials he used? We were interested in natural, realistic materials, not the newest industrial-strength polymers.
The wood we chose has proven to be the perfect material and continues to improve with age and distress. The show the deck, which is constructed of natural maple, is equipped with seven automated tracks, all lined with steel for visual interest. To stay consistent with our concept of clock mechanisms, many of the automated deck units are designed to reveal the mechanics that operated them.” Amazing, huh?
3. Music--The very accomplished composer, Steven Schwartz wrote the music for Wicked. The easiest song to write? “Popular.” The most complicated? His fifth try of the angry roommate song, “What is this feeling?” The first song he wrote was (which is apparently not his usual way of beginning), “No One Mourns the Wicked.” The music was nominated for a Tony award this time for Best Music. I’m seeing a pattern here, are you? You can’t compare Schwartz’s music to anyone else. It is fabulous and something your students would enjoy studying.
4. Book--The origin of the script of Wicked is an interesting one. I won’t divulge it here, but suffice to say the writing of the script changed this author’s life…for good. Though the Tony award for Best Book of a Musical did not go to Wicked, it was nominated. That’s a tremendous accomplishment!
Drama Desk Awards for Wicked
Wicked won several awards from Drama Desk as well. Maybe that’s why Wicked could take over the world. They include: Outstanding Musical, Lyrics, Book of a Musical, Director, Orchestration, Set Design and Costume Design. Drama Desks are the only awards that consider Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off-Broadway shows in the same competitive categories.
What about its message? At first glance, you may think it’s a revved up “Wizard of Oz”, but no. You need to look deeper than the flying monkeys and magic spells. This enchanting musical is really about friendship, identity, and standing up for one’s beliefs, even when it seems like the rest of the world doesn’t agree with them.
I see Wicked has just surpassed Cats to become the fourth longest running musical on Broadway. Read here.
Differentiation at its best
As I mentioned, I have a lesson about Wicked. In fact, I have several–one is a PDF, one is digital, one is for the Google classroom and one teaches through Boom cards.
This two-day lesson focuses on the Tony award winning musical Wicked. When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire‘s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900. storm. Students have an opportunity to study the musical’s journey to Broadway, composers, plot, trivia, etc.
How do I use this in my classroom?
A drama, music, reading or a language arts class would enjoy this lesson. Study its music, story line, elements, cultural references–you name it!
The lesson contains:
- Letter to Teacher
- Warm Up–MY Version of a Popular Physical Warm Up
- Teacher’s Script–what I say and how I say it!
- Photos from the Broadway Production
- Separate File of Slides for Teacher to Use to Lecture
- Plot of the Musical
- History about the Origination of the Production
- Information concerning the composer, Steven Schwartz
- Information about the playwright, Winnie Holzman
- A Shortened Lesson on: What are the Tony Awards?
- Tony Awards it Received
- What are the Tony Awards
- New York City Map with Competing Theaters Labeled
- Student Note Page
- Teacher Note Page Key
- Quotes from the Musical–Good for Discussions and Assignments
- Extension Activities–One Pager Assignment, a Terrific Way to Secure the Learning and Enrich the Experience
- One Pager Templates
- Flip Book Template, Instructions and Assignment
- Sources & Links to Film Clips from the Show
Will Wicked the Musical Ever Rule the World?
Here’s a two week resource about Wicked!
I can’t believe Wicked has been on Broadway since 2003! It just seems like yesterday when I was gob smacked by it the first time. Check out this blog post for more Broadway musical info: The Reasons to Teach Broadway Musicals to Your Students
If the musical Wicked could rule the world, that would be fine with me! It’s full of wonderful elements, themes and messages which we all need to hear. What do you like most about the show? You know, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Contact me at DhcBaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net.