Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I've Fallen In Love!

I don't know how many of you guys know that one of the greatest passions in my life is musical theatre. I grew up doing theatre, I did it in high school and college, and have been everything from in the chorus, to playing Eliza in My Fair Lady, Ado Annie in Oklahoma, dancing as Cherry in Paint Your Wagon, and directing Oklahoma (again) a few years ago. I have often wondered if I shouldn't have gone to New York City to try out for Broadway instead of going to college; I'm that serious about it. I haven't been on the stage for years (I had a vocal injury about six years ago that literally took me five years to fully recover from) and now that I'm good as new, I start thinking about trying to find time to do it again. It may never happen because of my schedule as an author, and even contemplating that makes me sad. I. Love. Musical. Theatre. To the point that seeing a really good performance reduces me to tears. I cannot even explain how much I adore a good musical!

So why has it taken me so long to listen to the soundtrack to Wicked? Because I'm stubborn, quite frankly. I don't like buying into things just because there is a ton of hype. In fact, I tend to rebel against hype. Everyone, and I mean everyone, loves Wicked. They rant, they rave, and quite frankly, I just wasn't that interested in something people were ranting and raving about. I know, I know, it's dumb. But I have been hearing snatches of the music here and there (one of the dance teams up by my brother's school has a dance to a Wicked medley and I've been to several of his performances/competitions this year.) And so when I left on my trip to my mom's last week I had my husband put it on my ipod and I listened to it on the way up.

Three times.

One right after the other.

And I'm sure people who drove past me thought I was having a nervous breakdown. A grown woman driving down the freeway crying her eyes out. Yes, yes, that was me.

This is a gorgeous musical. When I got to my mom's house I had to have her explain the story to me, and I've listened to it again two or three times since I've been here (which is saying something since I don't like to revise with music in my ears. So this had just been during my down time.)

Now, everyone who I have talked to talks about how great and wonderful the singer who plays Glinda is. But I gotta tell you, I was WAY more impressed with Elphaba. IMO not only is she the better character, technically, her music is harder. I was entranced by the lyrics, so many internal rhymes. Simplistic lines that sound easy, but I know couldn't have been. And the subtleties. I mean, everyone is lying in this musical! I also was struck by how few solos there are in Wicked. In a lot of musicals, there is, of course, a story, but the score is set up in such a way as to highlight the individual singers. This one isn't. Almost every song is about highlighting two singers. Also, the casting was really amazing. Generally, you want to get two singers whose voices blend well. But in this case, they purposely got two singers whose voices are very, very different. Why? Because they sing unison so often, with the harmony lines sounding almost dissonant and having way more punch to them! Brilliant! Seriously, I was so impressed by the vocal interplay.

So raving aside, (yes, I've become one of THEM!!;)) I spent a lot of time thinking about my series while listening to Wicked. Not because the two story lines are in any way similar, but because the characters are all so flawed. Perfect characters are boring. What makes characters interesting are their flaws and how they do or do not overcome them. One of the hard things about writing a series is that you have to make your characters flawed enough to be interesting, but redeemable enough to make people still root for them. And then you have to keep that up through the course of multiple books!

I have such hopes for my fourth book. I am so pleased with the ending I've chosen and I hope readers will be too. But while listening to Wicked I came to the realization that it won't matter to readers if they get the exact ending they want, so long as they get an ending that is right, and satisfying and can move them emotionally. I want that last book to sing. In really an almost literal sense. I want my last book to be Wicked. To move people the way this music moved me.

And man, have I got my work cut out for me. *hugs her ipod*



Kenny said...

*sighs* I guess that means I better listen to it, then. d-_-b Oh well, at least I still have Dr. Horrible to maintain my geek-fringe-musical cred.

Alexandra said...

Wicked is SO amazing. I went to a very music & theatre-oriented high school, and in eighth grade Wicked was the biggest thing since sliced bread. I adore that musical so much. If you ever get the chance, see the Broadway show, because it is WONDERFUL. I've seen it twice, and I could see it a ton more times.
Do you think you'll read the book? It is not very like the musical and, I don't think, not nearly as good.

Jenna said...

I love Wicked. I read the book, bought the soundtrack and listened to it ten billion times, bought the companion book for the musical, and found it on YouTube so I could actually watch it. Still haven't seen it live, though. Le sigh.

I get goosebumps every time I hear Defying Gravity. :) I actually sang No Good Deed when I tried out for Into the Woods -- and totally nailed it. And it was haaaaaaaard. Gave me a lot of respect for Idina Menzel, who sings it so perfectly.

Awesome post.

Speed Reader said...

Just wait till you get a chance to see the show ... you see the music (and the lyrics) in a whole new light! And then go back and watch THE WIZARD OF OZ ... you'll never see that show in the same way again! WICKED really is an amazing and entertaining show.

Martha Flynn said...

Both Idina and Kristin were amazing in those roles - I was lucky enough to catch them in the pre-Broadway San Francisco run. I'm also a musical theater hussy , and that particular performance is my favorite of the dozens I've caught prior and since.

I use "For Good" as the soundtrack/theme to all my works in progress. The way the characters feel in that moment and the journey they've undertaken is the perfect tone I wish I could hit in my manuscripts.

Patti said...

I love Wicked, we saw it in London when we were there. Sometimes jumping on the band wagon is not such a bad thing.

Jenn Johansson said...

I have been holding out on Wicked too. I think I need to give in at some point soon... after you, I may be the last musical lover holdout. *sigh* ;)

Eric said...

I guess I'm getting out of the loop, since I don't know what Wicked is. Time to start googling.

Elizabeth said...

I didn't dig into it like everyone else did my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, but I was surrounded by it - especially "Popular" (which kind of grated on me at first) and "For Good" which convinced me to listen to the rest of the soundtrack. I loved the music so much that I read the book and was rather disappointed. Just thought I should warn you! Though, I see that Alexandra says as much, too. I'm still dying to see the Broadway show!

Carbonneau said...

SO..I hear tickets are being sold starting this weekend for year? I think we are going to get tickets with Chris' sister to see Mary Poppins for next feb. I called Cherise to see if she was interseted and she said she was going to buy tickets for Wicked...I thought she said this weekend... u should look into it!

angelle said...

i LOVE wicked!!

ORION said...

I saw wicked TWICE in New York and once in London - it is about women's friendship and life and dreams and is my very favorite musical.
I LOVE musical theater!!!!

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