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Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Go See A Show"

Well, it's Saturday morning and damn, I'm awake and up. I HATE that. It's SATURDAY. I should be snoozing but no, here I am, sun's up and so am I. Why? SOMEONE came to bed late last night and neglected, as always, to close the blinds. I like to leave them partway open, so I can peek at the street and get a bit of fresh air but one would think that the last person into bed would actually CLOSE them, wouldn't one? I mean, especially as there's a street light directly outside the window. The hubster complains mightily about said street light and yet, for some reason, closing the blinds doesn't seem to occur to him.

This also means that the sunlight pours into the bedroom. Thus, my state of being awake on a Saturday morning before noon, not that I've been able to do THAT since my early 20s anyway, but you get my drift, no?

Well, I'm slumped in my favorite Ethan Allen chair sipping black coffee and I put my cup up to my forehead. I find this comforting during a sinus headache, and I've got a beaut. I notice the cup for the first time. Now, first off, it's important to know that I use normal sized coffee mugs. This limits what I have to choose from. The rest of my family uses coffee mugs the size of Quaker State Motor Oil cans. Picture it...a quart of motor oil with a handle on the side and Mickey Mouse on the front where the Liberty Bell would be. THIS is my son's coffee cup. The hubster's too, although without the Mickey Mouse pic.

I like plain old, 10 oz straight sided coffee mugs. I usually get them at theaters, I find them a nice reminder of the shows I've seen and loved. "Mack and Mabel." "South Pacific." "A Chorus Line." "Rent."

Like this: And a big thanks to the Playbill shop where I found this, btw. This is actually the cup I'm using this morning, which is why I got to thinking about this. This, btw, is a show logo cup, not one of those stupid "I'm a witch, I'm defying gravity, girl power" cups. Just to get this straight here.

Anyway, as I've mentioned, I used to hang on the internet. A LOT. I thought I had friends on the Internet. Not so much. Well, two or three of these "friends" went to see "Wicked." Now I'd been to see "Wicked," in fact I had to drive 120 miles to the next large city to see it as it was on it's national tour and you couldn't get a ticket in Los Angeles for love nor money. My neighbors got the bright idea (and it WAS a bright idea) to all go in on a block of seats for the San Diego stop and get the group rate while we were at it. And THAT is how I got to see "Wicked" while it was on it's honest to god National tour.

I liked it. Very much. I LOVE Stephen Schwartz and will go see "Pippin" if it's being performed by six year olds in a park. "Sweeney Todd" too. But I'm getting off track here. I liked the show. Very much. I bought the mug. Well, lo and behold, two, maybe three of my message board friends got tickets for the show when it finally came to L.A. and did a year long sit-down. These were people who didn't do theater. That's okay. Just because I'll go to anything put on a portable stage and have been since I was a kid doesn't mean it's for everybody.

They LOVED it. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! Wow, I was excited for them...well, one of them anyway. The one I thought I knew well. So I was suggesting more theater. There was a revival of "Damn Yankees" in town. "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" was here on tour. We should go, she would love them. We started a theater thread, so we could talk about other shows.

Um, no. They weren't interested in seeing "The Drowsy Chaperone" before it went to Broadway. They weren't interested in seeing why ".....Spelling Bee" won all those Tonys. They weren't interested in the theater. They were only interested in seeing..."Wicked." Again and again and again.

I've seen shows over and over too. The aforementioned "Pippin," "Sweeney Todd," "A Chorus Line," "How to Succeed....," "Twelfth Night." I love those shows. I love a LOT of shows. I love theater. I go to new shows too. We braved the stand-by line for Opening Night tickets to "Leap of Faith" last Sunday and had a GREAT time. Fun, fun show. She, I realized, just loves "Wicked". And herein lies the problem. These two women only loved one show, and one character in that show. It's Elphaba baby, all the way.

Somewhere along the line I realized, they both seem to have decided that they could BE Elphaba in real life and people would give them standing ovations for it. Um, yeah, not so much guys. Elphaba, in case you're not familiar with the show, is the green one who turns into the Wicked Witch of the West. She's abrasive and triumphs in the end. (assuming you've never read the book, which I have.) You know...the classic hooker with a heart of gold scenario. Except they've missed the heart of gold part.

This attitude spilled over into real life, and it's freaking scary as it still continues. Snap judgements. Bad friendships. Angry spells going awry. They get out their spell books and wish people into cornfields simply because they can, and, like the fictional green witch of Oz, they're now left with the wreckage of their abuse of power: A dying website and legions of former members talking trash about them behind their backs on Facebook, Twitter and in real life. They're left with a handful of loyalists, all of whom share the power to abuse the rules of the kingdom, the very rules the ladies of the stage used against their former supporters. And the rule breaking continues, publicly and overtly, there are no hidden names, there is no teasing innuendo. Elphaba is now stuck with it, these flying monkeys who have been changed into something that can exist in no other walk of life except the dark, hidden recesses of the Internet.

They're not defying gravity. They're defying common courtesy, decency and the many outstretched hands of friendship that have been offered and rejected throughout the years. They still think they're "Dancing Through Life" and spread their arms out joyfully in the sun, spinning delightedly while they chirp "...just you and I, defying gravity" as they skip down the Yellow Brick Road, never looking back at the scorched earth they've left behind, running headlong into Elphaba the witch's happy ending.

Did I mention, I've read the book? Want to know what REALLY happens to the Witches of Oz?

Fiyero dies. Elphaba ends up alone, bitter and reclusive, unwed and knocked up. Not entirely unlike "Madam Butterfly."

Oh, that's right. They probably haven't seen THAT, either.

And the moral of this story? Buy some Hot Tix. Check out your local high school, see what they're performing this season. Mine's doing "Barnum" in the spring, I'll be there. But whatever you do, stay the hell away from "Wicked." That thing'll ruin you.


  1. Fabulous insight! I knew they were real bitches but faux WITCHES? This had not occurred to me.

    Makes total, 110% sense. Well played.

  2. Friend from the PastOctober 9, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    Another great column. Never saw the show (!!!) dagnabit, so i've had to use the wiki to learn more about Elphaba. Interesting, very interesting ...

    What a strange character on which to obsess ... Reminds me of Heathcliff ... I suppose your non-theater-loving friends must feel rather victimized by life and wishing to desperately overlook their own, ummm, character faults?

    Who in their right mind wants to eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West?

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