We’ve all heard it from parents, friends, colleagues, etc. As soon as you make the “mistake” of slipping that you’ve seen WICKED more than once, or they realize, from your Facebook posts, that you’re seeing it AGAIN – the question comes – “How many times have you seen that show?”. Oftentimes, if you’re honest in telling them your “Wicked Count”, the reaction is something along the lines of, “No! How could you see one show that much? I mean, my favorite movie is “Gone with the Wind” but I couldn’t watch it THAT many times! It’s the same show over and over, etc.” I’m sure know the drill. Sometimes, people understand, more often, they don’t, but they don’t judge, and of course, occasionally, people give you these looks like you’re a crazy person.
SO. I’ve decided to write an editorial on the topic, something I haven’t done in several years – I recently hit a pretty big milestone in the number of times I’ve seen the show, so I thought now would be as appropriate of a time as ever. So… though I can’t speak for ALL of the WICKED fans, I can certainly speak for myself, and I can speak based on what I’ve observed and been told by other WICKED fans.
I feel that first and foremost, for me and other fans of the show, the reason we love seeing the show so much is that it is simply a beautiful piece of art – theatrically, musically, and emotionally. Is it the best piece of theatre ever written? Maybe not. But it has touched us all in some way – and continues to touch huge numbers of people each and every day. Each time I see the show, I notice something different, or appreciate something in a different way, and I am reminded of how massive and how aesthetically superior the show is. I still get chills each time I see it from parts of the score, certain acting moments, certain lighting moments – all and all, it is a massive, beautifully, work of art – and as a friend of mine put it recently, and I feel so appropriately – “cultural phenomenon”.
Another reason I love seeing it so often – and this just occurred to me recently – is that it’s not all about just seeing the show – it’s also about who you’re seeing it with! WICKED fans have often formed beautiful, lifelong bonds over the show and discussion of the show, both online and in-person. For me, there is not much more thrilling than getting to see the show with another fan (or group of fans) and share and discuss the experience with them. Fans often plan trips together to see the show, whether it be a group of three or four or a group of nearly thirty, and the friendships formed are often strengthened and enhanced by getting to experience such a beautiful work of art together. Of all the times I’ve seen the show, only about one-in-five has been without a friend there, and in a few cases, the trip was planned with a friend, but then something happened and they were unable to come – so it’s also about the bonds formed with other WICKED fans and seeing it together with them. Also, on that note, it’s also thrilling to take a non-theatre-loving friend to see the show for the first time and watch them fall in love with it, as I’ve done on more than one occasion.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to write this without addressing the “it’s the same show!” comment that I’m sure we’ve all gotten at some point – it’s a fair comment – it is, all in all, the same show. BUT there’s a difference, of course. It’s live. For one, that automatically adds a huge thrill to being there. But that also ensures that you will NEVER see the exact same show two times. Ever. Even subtle differences can and will be picked up by WICKED fans, and that is a huge part of the thrill for seeing it regularly. Performers often make a conscious effort to change little things from night-to-night to keep the show fresh, and it is very apparent to fans of show. Furthermore, due to the nature of live theatre, little glitches (and sometimes big glitches) occur sometimes, and they become a “trophy” for WICKED fans to have seen – often amusing and certainly a story to tell to your friends about seeing the show!
Also, look at it this way – and yes, I’ve said this to several people who’ve said “it’s the same show!” – If you take your favorite movie, and totally change the principal cast members in the movie – and give them the freedom to interpret the roles as they see fit – there would be a large, possibly massive, change in the movie – interactions would be different, character arcs would be different, everything would change. That is what happens when new cast members come into WICKED – though the basic story and blocking stays the same – each performer fleshes out something different and new about the character they are playing, and vocally, of course, everything changes – different voice, different tone, different vocal choices in some cases, and the list goes on. So yes, while it is the same show – there are pretty big differences from time-to-time.
It would be dishonest to write this article without also, of course, mentioning the wonderful and generous performers who make this show beautiful from night-to-night – theatre is a unique venue in that, unlike movies, and often concerts, you have the opportunity to meet and thank the people who make it happen after the show. After you’ve met them, it honestly makes seeing the show all-the-better – knowing how grateful they are for your love for the show, and knowing how generous and kind they are as people, just adds a new dimension to the show. Performers in WICKED are seriously some of the kindest and most lovely people I’ve met, and it’s always a joy to meet them and get to speak to them for a few minutes after enjoying their performances. Without them, I don’t think the WICKED fan base would be nearly what it is today.
So all-in-all, yes, it’s the same show basically, and yes, perhaps there would be better ways to spend our hard-earned money than seeing WICKED over and over again, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s good, healthy entertainment, often enjoyed with delightful friends, and performed by beautiful and generous actors and actresses.
To be cliché, I personally feel other fans and myself have been changed by the show and the people we’ve met while seeing the show – for good.