My newest feature! In Book vs. Broadway, I pit the original story against the newest stage interpretation.
A few weeks ago, M’s work offered tickets to the local Broadway stop of Wicked. M is horrible about keeping secrets (the tickets were supposed to be a surprise), so I picked up my copy of Gregory Maguire’s Wicked (you’ve got to read the story before the show!).
In short, I fell in love with the show. It was brilliant, well-done, and one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. We both fell in love with the story, but I couldn’t help noticing the differences between the two versions of the story.
The Broadway Show:
I loved the inclusion of the lion, the tin man, and scarecrow. I didn’t expect that this would be added into the story, but it created a connection for me to the movie. At first, I didn’t like this addition, but as the story grew (especially Nessa’s), I loved the inclusion.
The Broadway show was a very romanticized version of the novel. This isn’t necessarily bad; doing so makes the book much more palatable to different viewers, especially because of the somewhat darker nature of the novel (see below). I liked that the adjustments didn’t take away from the story – the same themes were still present and addressed – but in more tame terms.
The love story was totally different. That being said, I loved the romance in the Broadway show. It was engaging, incredible, and reminded us to not judge a book by its cover.
The ending blew me away. I can’t say more than that, just in case you haven’t seen it yet.
(Want to go deeper? Check out my review!)
When I first started reading this book, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I knew the basic story premise: a retelling of the Wicked Witch of the West. What I actually got at the end of this book was something completely different.
To start with, the book is much darker than I expected. The overall atmosphere of the novel is dense and mysterious. More often than not, I imagined the scenes in a dark, overcast day, muted colors, and an overall grey. Although the show addresses some of the themes of difference and acceptance, the book has more room to explore and expand on these dark adult themes hidden within Oz’s candy colored coating.
Maguire’s original novel delves deeper into Elphaba and Nessa’s childhood, explaining a lot more of their motivations, attitudes, and psyches. Elphaba and Nessa, so integral to the story of Dorothy we all know and love, have huge roles in shaping not only the future story, but the entire history of Oz.
Elphaba’s transition from good to wicked isn’t quite as pronounced, nor intentional. I loved reading her motives, thoughts, and actions in the novel. Although the show did a great job of showing her motives behind her actions, be able to see through her eyes and narration changed my entire perception of Oz.
In the end:
The show’s portrayal of Glinda (GAL-linda!) and Elphaba’s relationship was much more enjoyable. Both women, although somewhat unrelatable in the beginning, quickly became some of the most memorable characters I’ve read and seen in a long time. I loved the emphasis on the novel’s original themes, either in the darker original or the more romanticized Broadway version. After reading and watching, there is no clear winner in this showdown. I loved them both.