Monday, April 22, 2013

FTT Off-Topic: "Wicked", Or When Being A Dad To A 13-Year-Old Girl Rocks

Pretty sure she went to Bryn Mawr
Wildly not sports, and yada yada yada.

With the Shooter Eldest turning 13 this weekend, and already having way too much in the way of Gadgets And Stuff, we decided this year to give her some Moments. And she loves musicals, having performed in the middle school one for the past two years, so what the hell. Let's take her to the one she wants to go see, even though she barely knew that this was possible. You get major Dad Points for listening, basically.

(A quick side note on having your kid in a middle school musical: it's much more bad than good. Where I live in Aspiring Burbland, this means selling $50 in band candy, taking out a pointless $50 ad in the program, shelling out $30 for the post-show amusement park cast party, $8 per ticket for the family and grandparents and extended family... and all of that math is multiplied by the literally hundreds of kids involved in this thing. All for the chance to lose your kid to a week's worth of exhausting shows and tween-age drama, and spend $200 to see her be an off-stage extra while the same clique of smarmy off-key kids get the lead roles year after year. Then you get to sit in a room with people who applaud like prison inmates being shown a burlesque, only with less tact. This thing has to make a mint, it provokes a week's worth of misanthropy inside of me, and just rankles hard... but hey, the kid's having fun and making friends and learning the lesson that a life in the theater is not a meitocracy, and that maybe she should buckle down and make the honor roll, rather than try to Be Famous. You learn a lot in school when you aren't "learning.")

"Wicked" is, of course, the mass-market monster money-making beast of the age, and saying that it's great is right up there with saying that water is wet and that Broadway shows have talented casts. But that doesn't stop the achievement here. The show successfully taps into all of the anxieties of the modern age -- that technology may be ruining the planet, that authority is more interested in maintaining power than the well-being of others, that truth is bent to the whims of people who may not be truly evil. but are clearly corrupt -- and uses them to more or less rehabilitate a classic American fairy tale.

The thing about "The Wizard of Oz" to my eyes (someone who has read it as a grown-up to his kids, and sat through the movie as well)... it's solid, of course, but it's also wildly overrated due to its appeal to niche communities. And it makes no sense from a plot standpoint either, given that a naive little girl is able to change a world without any weapon or talent; it makes no sense outside of being the fever dream of a child.

"Wicked" puts that story into a greater context, answers questions that anyone over the age of seven would ask in a satisfying manner, and makes both stories work so much, much better. And the sheer stagecraft involved here, from lighting to fog to use of the depth and vertical space of the Gershwin Theater, will satisfy even the most professional of eyes. It's also genuinely funny at points, more than a little moving (more so for my kid than me, of course, but the fun part of being a parent is how much that sort of thing can change), and moves quickly, despite the total 2:45 running time.

I went for my kid, but I'm very happy I got to see it for myself. It's just that good.

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule