Wicked on Broadway Versus Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

Broadway’s Wicked is an amazing, colorful yet dark, and spectacular musical that will have you mesmerized for two hours and thirty minutes. Wicked is a Broadway style adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s best selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. For all of you out there who never tired of watching The Wizard of Oz year after year as a child or even as an adult the musical and the book are both great sources for a continuation of your fascination with OZ. Great music is set to a thrilling and captivating group of characters that most Americans can never get enough of. It is something of a prequel to The Wizard of Oz and definitely brings back a glimmer of imagination and childhood in all who see it.

Although Broadway’s Wicked is based on an actual book, there are quite a few differences. I highly recommend seeing the musical as well as reading the book, but don’t let your heart be broken if you read the book first and expect to see the same exact story onstage at the musical. Wicked is after all condensed into about two hours and the book will most likely take you a week of steady reading.

In true American fashion the musical Wicked tries to answer, explain and somewhat gloss over the more in-depth parts of Maguire’s Wicked. Most of us would expect this though. Wicked the musical is told mostly through the eyes of Glinda the Good Witch, while Wicked is told through a few different vantage points. Elphaba is one of the main sources throughout the second two thirds of the book.

In Wicked Elphaba is intelligent, misunderstood, and basically good. In Wicked; The life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Elphaba is darker, more in touch with her inner demon, and very much a more developed character. Her friendship with Glinda is definitely different in each case as well. The development of Glinda’s character in Maguire’s Wicked truly brings her to life. She is human, selfish, beautiful, caring, careless, and all the qualities that are left out of the Wizard of Oz as well as the musical Wicked.

There is a basic storyline in both of a concern for the animals of Oz as well as some great revelations and connections to the original Wizard of Oz. Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Lion, and the scarecrow all appear and warm the heart. Of course again there is a huge difference between Wicked and the musical about how they came to be and who they are.

Broadway’s Wicked has a very different ending than Maguire’s Wicked. Don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you, but be prepared to say, “what?” There is no real answer to which one you should see or read first, but for those of you who read Wicked first, you may find that the book was far more fulfilling to the imagination. Broadway definitely presents a light and airy, colorful, and musical version of a somewhat dark and involved novel. For those of you who see Broadway’s Wicked first, you may not be impressed by or be ready for the truly dark nature of Maguire’s novel.

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