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A “Wicked” Cool Performance Not to be Missed!

I first saw Wicked the musical live as a kid with a love of theater. I grew up with a great respect and appreciation for Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, some of the greatest performers and singers. They were my idols. I had seen many musicals and even performed in some as a student. But nothing compared to how Wicked made me feel. The lights, the costumes, the sets, the voices… I was captivated. Watching Wicked in Chicago, front row, with my family, so many years ago, had one of the greatest impacts in growing my love of the performing arts.

That said, when I heard Wicked would be coming to Daegu, there was no question that I would be attending. And when I found out it was in Korean, I didn’t blink an eye. I certainly do not know enough Korean to understand a whole show, but just the thought of being around the energy of the performance was incentive enough. And boy am I glad I hadn’t let a language barrier deter me!

 

If you are unfamiliar with the show, here is a very brief synopsis without giving away important details. Wicked is “The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz.” It is about Glinda the Good Witch and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, from the original story and film The Wizard of Oz. It delves into their relationship and how they became the people they were in the film. The music and lyrics were written by Stephen Schwartz and the book by Winnie Holzman. The show I saw in Daegu featured a spectacular performance by  Cha JiYeon (차지연) as Elphaba and Ivy (아이비) as Glinda.

The show was held at the Keimyung University Arts Center. I had never been to this campus before and it is gorgeous. The Arts Center alone is a beautiful round dome building and has nice areas outside for sitting or taking a walk. With tons of restaurants right across the street, this could easily be turned into a whole evening event. For me, it was a great opportunity to get out of my typical shorts and t-shirt weekend look and dress up.

 

After grabbing some quick food with friends, we settled into our seats in the far upper section of the theater. Within the first notes of the opening overture, I was hooked. I’m the kind of person for whom the beginning bars of the overture can bring chills to my body, and this opening didn’t disappoint. Mind you, we were far back from the stage, and it was still a powerful opening. Immediately, the memories of young Elizabeth seeing Wicked for the first time came rushing back. It was a wonderfully nostalgic moment.

Everything about the performance was breathtaking. From the costumes to the scenery to the orchestra to the incredible high notes, it was astounding. Although difficult at times due to language, it was worth it for the visuals and singing alone. The high notes in some of the major numbers such as “Defying Gravity” and “No One Mourns the Wicked” had me feeling alive. There were moments in which I felt utterly speechless.

 

You may be thinking, “That’s great, but I haven’t seen it in English and I don’t want to spend my money to see something I won’t understand.” I understand this and I will say that without prior knowledge of the show, it may be difficult to fully enjoy it. However, looking up the plot and listening to the songs prior to attending would help this. I went with some friends who had not seen it before so I spent some time explaining plot to them, but they said even without knowing the show, they thought it was a fun and worthwhile experience. If you are someone who enjoys live performances of any type, I highly recommend it. Not to mention, going to this show is a good way to do something different. We all get stuck in our schedules and routines so it’s necessary to switch things up every now and then. This is the perfect opportunity for that.

Whether in Korean or English or any other language, the point of musical theater is to make you feel something. It is to make you feel emotions you haven’t felt in a while or maybe help soothe those emotions you are all too familiar with now. It makes you laugh and it makes you cry. This show did all of this and more.

 

Before leaving the Arts Center, I wanted to take a photo of the poster boards that highlighted the main performers. There was a long line to wait and take a photo with these posters so I tried to snap a picture of just the posters before some people walked into the frame. It was two young girls who seemed to be sisters. Looking at their faces and the way they gushed over the pictures of the women on the posters reminded me of myself when I first saw this show. Who knows, maybe one day those girls will be the next Elphaba and Glinda.

 

Written by Elizabeth Riggio

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