Archives for posts with tag: Wicked

Twitter has brought me musical magic again. This time actually from my favorite musical. Wicked has these Out of Oz Studio Sessions performances that I hadn’t really checked out. When “No Good Deed” sung by Jennifer Nettles was right there as I scrolled along, I clicked Play.

I’m not a country music fan, generally, but I’ve heard Jennifer Nettles belt out more traditional songs enough to know I was in for a treat. She has an amazing voice and wonderful control of it. Her rendition of “No Good Deed” is perfection. I keep going to YouTube to watch the video. That won’t stop anytime soon.

Jennifer Nettles — No Good Deed

I’m so excited about this announcement , saying Wicked will come to the big screen in a few years. I love Gregory Maguire’s The Wicked Years novels so much. Those books make me want to vacation in Elphaba and Glinda’s Oz. To tour Shiz and The Emerald City.  To be swankified. I’ve listened to the original cast recording soundtrack so many times that it feels as if I’ve seen the Broadway musical. If only the original cast would be transplanted directly into the feature film. I could suspend any level of disbelief, if it meant getting to see Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth reprise their roles as Elphaba and Glinda. Actually, I don’t think it would take much imagination to believe those two brilliant stars are students at dear old Shiz. However, I’ll be happy to watch whatever movie the brilliant minds behind the play gift us with. I’m sure that after the experience I’ll be changed for good.

Popular is one of my favorite songs on the Wicked Original Broadway Cast Soundtrack, but this version is like no other variation. It’s still Galinda at her Kristin Chenoweth bubbly best, but with a multilingual twist including German, Japanese, Chinese, and Italian that sounds a bit operatic. In the accompanying article Chenoweth goes into some background on this surprising rendition of such a familiar song. It’s obvious that hiring a linguist to help her paid off. To a layman’s ear her different language sections are perfection. Kudos Kristin Chenoweth, on a bold and cool visit back to dear old Shiz.

Oddly, falling in love with Gregory Maguire’s novel Wicked and its tragically green wicked witch with a heart Elphaba led me to falling in love with Idina Menzel’s incredible voice. There’s nothing I love discovering more than a Broadway power belter with range and the know how to use it well.

Idina Menzel has one of the best voices I’ve ever heard. It was Defying Gravity that first got my attention, but as I continue to turn up gem after gem I’ve discovered that this is a singer with the ability to bring tears to the listener’s eyes, as well as bring down the house. Her still powerful yet also subtle rendition of the old standard Embraceable You is as moving as it is beautiful.

Now that the announcement that she’ll be singing at the Oscars has begun to gain her the wider recognition that she deserves, Idina Menzel is popping up all over pop culture, as well as in major news stories. This Entertainment Weekly Popwatch Retrospective covers much of her career, including links to some  performances I’m not familiar with and look forward to checking out.

I’ve come across numerous indications that the writing of ABC’s hit series Once Upon a Time strikes some people as awful.

I think I know why.

And I beg to differ.

From the moment I first heard  the concept, I was thrilled and optimistic. In depth stories of beloved fairy tale characters? What’s not to like? Their parallel lives in the horrible, horrible place they’ve been banished to? What’s not to love? (TPTB have long been forgiven for the little fact that that horrible, horrible place is the reality we all call home without aide of banishment. We’ve suffered all along in this dreary life without magic. Who knew?) That the men behind the Once Upon a Time magic also guided us through the deliciously confounding labyrinth that was Lost? Icing. Cake. I wasn’t crazy about the end, but what a ride it was that led us there!

So. I have adored Once Upon a Time, from the first moment until the recent cliffhanger. I love everything about it. The costumes alone are a reason to watch.  Regina\Evil Queen is like quicksilver.Now you hate her. Then you don’t.Wait…now you hate her again. I forgive her for calling those lowly Red Delicious hanging from her poison tree by the lofty title Honey Crisp. I may think the writers know their stuff, but like the rest of us, they are human.  I’m almost certain of it. 

The thing is that fairy tales are their own off from center little genre. I’m not sure what the Brothers Grimm and all their dark angled comrades in words actually intended, but I like to think it wasn’t to scare children to sleep. That probably lies squarely on the head of some nameless peasant, with a tendency toward dark humor and the uncanny for his time ability to read.

Fairy tales come with a certain stylized language. Not so much the words themselves, but how they’re arranged. There’s a cadence and flair to the way they sound in the heads of their readers. In the right voice/brain combination, they emerge the same way when read aloud. Gifted actors capture that atmospheric rhythm perfectly. Think The Princess Bride.

There is drama in fairy tales that is missing in our everyday lives. High drama. If we aren’t exposed to it often, we don’t recognize it when it suddenly appears. It sounds stilted and unnatural to our untutored ears. Only if we know to expect it do we recognize its arrival. Once Upon a Time captures the extravagance of high drama to a tea…er…T. The Mad Hatter influence, don’t you know?

If you’ve read Wicked and its sister books, you know I just channeled Sir Brrr for a second there. If I could have my fondest Once Upon a Time wish granted, it would be for a Wizard of Oz episode, with Idina Menzel playing old Westie.

I suppose I’m a bit sensitive to the reactions of unaccustomed ears to specific speech patterns, whether written or spoken. I once got a very nice comment from a literary magazine on a story set in England, followed by a second comment that the dialogue seemed unnatural. It seemed unnatural to someone not familiar with words, speech patterns, and idioms common to
the British.

I cut my teenage reading teeth on Dickens, Shakespeare, and the Bronte sisters, and spent several weeks traveling around the U. K. as an adult. I’ve read enough Anne Perry Victorian mysteries to have a crush on Monk and wish for a Great Aunt Vespasia of my own.

I’ve been an Anglophile almost as long as I’ve been a person, and though I do not affect a British accent, I probably would if I thought I could get by with it. When I create British characters, I hear them that way in my head. Hopefully, all readers don’t need me in their heads with them to translate.

And hopefully all Once Upon a Time viewers don’t need the Brothers Grimm in their heads to translate fairy tale speak for them. Worse yet, Mr. Gold. I’m sure Rumplestiltskin would be happy to oblige. Just remember, dearie…down the road there’s always a price for his services.

Once Upon a Time Season 2 Promo

I’ve finished reading Out of Oz. Reluctantly. I loved it so much that I stretched it out for as long as I could. Gregory Maguire is a genius. Without a doubt.

Odd to be saying that, considering the way I barely made it through the first third or so of Wicked. It read like a text book, or several of them, covering everything from genealogy, geography, history, to socio political interactions and the lack thereof…of all of Oz. A bit heavy on the sexual appetites of the little green baby’s mother, starting long before Elphaba was born…in a phrase, it put me off. Bigtime. Somehow, I kept reading.

Then it started getting good. Then great. Eventually, I could not put it down. It was Elphaba. Once she appeared it didn’t take me long to realize I’d stumbled across one of the great characters of contemporary literature. I didn’t like her. I didn’t not like her. I liked her. Eventually, I just loved her. Hoping for some glimmer of her greenness over the course of the next three books was one of the major things to keep tugging me toward the ends, even as I dreaded leaving Oz behind.

Son of a Witch was good, but perhaps my least favorite of the four novels in The Wicked Years series. I never quite latched onto Liir as a character I was desperate to read about, nor Candle as his consort. I suppose you could say that my obsession skipped a generation, because their daughter became another favorite. In the meantime, I fell in love with The Cowardly Lion, who became Sir Brrr. A Lion Among Men, Book Three, was a treasure. Crushing on a talking Lion. Who knew?

Now, fresh off Out of Oz, I can’t get it out of my head. I hated to leave Oz myself. I swear, it’s a place I’d love to go for an extended holiday, and explore the various cities, lands, counties, and the far reaches that ring the entire place with mystery and awe-filled suspense. The ending was very beautiful, but not quite perfect because it left me feeling set for the next novel in the series, which Maguire has said won’t come.

The Wicked Years novels were a thrilling, dangerous, quirkily romantic ride, and will linger in my mind for decades, I think, just as the movie The Wizard of Oz tends to take up residence in that corner of watchers’ brains reserved for Technicolor musical fantasy.

I am in awe of Gregory Maguire’s talent. The author himself is a word wizard, weaving spells with phrases so beautiful that I have to go back and reread them, often more than once, to savor the rhythm and wordplay. His way of turning familiar words and phrases on their heads is enchanting, beyond anything else I’ve encountered elsewhere. Imagery of moons with tattered clouds drifting across their faces, otherworldly beings and settings that are yet somehow familiar, real people with real feelings and emotional depths, whether they be Human, Animal, animal, or magical beings just beyond our ken.

I got a bonus in addition to the reading experience. I saw Idina Menzel singing on a PBS special for the First Family, and was blown away by Defying Gravity. So I had to get the Wicked Soundtrack with the Original Cast. After that I had to start collecting Idina Menzel’s albums. She has become one of my favorite singers, and I think she possesses one of the great voices of our time.

I also now own The Grimmerie, a big green book patterned on the one in the novels. This one is full of all kinds of information about the Broadway musical adaptation of Wicked, and a wonderful addition to my collection.

While never having had the opportunity to see the musical itself, I’m content in a way, because I would only want to see the original cast, and that train seems to have long left the station.

Fortunately, that’s what YouTube is for. Idina Menzel singing Defying Gravity from Wicked.