As a unique twist into the original tale of The Wizard of Oz, Wicked provided us a perspective unlike any other. Elphaba is seen as an ugly and terrible person, but maybe she’s just misunderstood. The Broadway show completely eliminates Dorothy out of the story. Yes, Elphaba is green with magical powers, but she’s also a nerd and is shy about meeting people. She presents new realities for misfits in society for girls of all ages.
Elphaba and her pink and popular enemy-turned-to-friend, Galinda, were brought to a timeline where they studied at Shiz University. Because of Elphaba’s skin color, she was not well-loved. Only her sister, Nessarose, understood her. Galinda was a lovable witch because she had a bubbly personality. The fact that these two ladies are completely opposite of each other is what makes this Broadway show so relatable and lovable to many audiences.
One of the thematic elements of the show is self-identity. In the notable song “Popular,” Galinda takes the opportunity to make Elphaba confident and beautiful in her complexion. Sure, pink may not be the color for Elphaba, but by jumping and dancing around the bed, Elphaba learns to embrace her colors and go to the school dance. She reminds Elphaba that it is all about personality. At the same time, Galinda has her own way of shining through the school by dressing nicely and welcoming people to her life and discussions. Her self-identity is posed differently from Elphaba because she wants to be accepted in society, so looks and personality are both equally as important when making new friends.
Elphaba is often conflicted in finding her own voice in society because her family would ridicule her for her skin and powers. Her parents are scared of her. One of her important quotes is “Now I just think it’s our own lives that are hidden from us. The mystery – who is that person in the mirror – that’s shocking and unfathomable enough for me.” Here, Elphaba sees different versions of herself and it is up to her to decide whether she will become the bad witch as everyone says, or be comfortably herself.
Wicked is by all means an exploration of true friendship. Starting from loathing to girlfriends who can’t separate, Elphaba and Galinda bring out the best in each other. Elphaba teaches that beauty lies within the heart as Galinda teaches that not everyone wants to kill her. The groundbreaking song “Defying Gravity” shows Elphaba sacrificing her safety for Witch Hunters to capture her instead of Galinda.
In the end, sadly, no one truly mourns for the wicked, but this world-defying story shows that what we see outside of the skin is not always as it is meant to be. The wicked witch is dead and Galinda showers the world with the sparkles and bubbles. Even so, Elphaba’s shadow still lurks in the stages to show that the help of a friend is only within a footstep.