Friday, October 26, 2012

Wicked for President

This week I had the pleasure of seeing the musical WICKED at the Paramount Theater in Seattle. I'll admit I was a cynic. I generally try to avoid those Justin Bieber, Twilight, Les Miserables frenzies. Not that I don't appreciate these phenomena, I just worry about the homogenization (sp?) of our culture when everyone chases on star, one story, one idea. I worry about the many other worthy artists and thinkers don't happen to capture the cultural zeitgeist and I try to seek out their work--their divergent points of view. I tend to loathe big Broadway spectacles (especially those movie-turned-musical disasters or shows with mediocre storylines that are really just excuses for linking together a bunch of songs from an era, by a rock band, etc.). And I don't really like big crowds.
However, for a variety of reasons, I went to Wicked. It was wonderful. Nuanced, musically excited, over-too-soon. In the program notes, Stephen Schwartz said it took about four years to create the story but, as a writer, I know that means four years plus a lifetime of writing, composing, succeeding, failing, exploring, learning...The result, Wicked, is a story with neither wholly good nor intrinsically evil characters but people in challenging situations who find their courage, give their greatest gifts, when they realize not their potential but their limitations. I could go on. I won't.

Just, honestly, I wish Elphaba and Glinda--or people like them--were on the presidential ballot this year. People who were not afraid of their own vulnerabilities, of their unlikeable qualities, of the danger in the power they wielded.  Don't get me wrong, I am certain that both Obama and Romney are more dimensional, less polemical, and generally smarter than the campaign process forces allows them to be.

Still, instead of hearing speech after speech about how the candidates will save our economy, bring peace to our world, "defy gravity," I'd love to see one of those guys bow his head and admit that he is "limited" in the way all true leaders should see themselves--should be.

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