So a couple of weeks ago, I read Gregory Maguire's Wicked, the "true story" of the Wicked Witch of the West. Whose name, and she does have one, thankyouverymuch, is Elphaba. Elphie to her friends. I'm a straight female, but I think I fell a little in love with Elphie. I think it's the dry, blunt, no-bullshit tone of voice.
Such a good book. I haven't read anything this enjoyable in a long time. Ok, so I haven't read much in general lately. Shut up, you.
So anyway, after reading that, I had a very hard time imagining how anyone could possibly put together a Broadway musical from it. For one thing, it's a little dark. For another, I had a hard time envisioning where the hell the musical numbers could be wedged in. I got my hands on the soundtrack and gave it a listen, and the music's not bad. I mean, most of the things I don't like about musicals are there in full force (at least there's a blessed lack of Andrew Lloyd Webber!) , but still, the songs are enjoyable. In fact, I admit, I spent an entire day listening to it on repeat.
It seems like the big showstopper number that everyone loves is "Defying Gravity," which is okay, but I'm not in love with it or anything. No, for me, the real standout song is "What Is This Feeling?" Elphie & her brand new college roommate, Galinda (the future Glinda, the Good Witch), sing it upon their first meeting. (One of my favorite authors, Dorothy Parker, hated Billie Burke, who played Glinda in the "The Wizard of Oz." I imagine she'd be amused by the portrayal of Glinda in Wicked -- the musical, if not the book-- as ditzy.) Anyway, while Elphaba & Glinda end up dear friends, they get off to a rocky start, as this song demonstrates.
Galinda: What is this feeling, so sudden and new?
Elphaba: I felt the moment I laid eyes on you
Galinda: My pulse is rushing
Elphaba: My head is reeling
Galinda: My face is flushing
What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame
Does it have a name?
Galinda: For your face...
Elphaba: Your voice
Galinda: Your clothing!
It's not only highly amusing (Galinda, for God's sake, calls her parents "Momsie and Popsicle"), it is also the catchiest song on the soundtrack by far, and the vocals (Idina Menzel as Elphaba, and Kristin Chenowith as Galinda/Glinda) are great.
Read the book, listen to the soundtrack, whatever. It's all good.