Friday, January 20, 2006

More Wickedness

I really love the music and lyrics of the musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz by Stephen Schwartz, who also did “Godspell” and “Pippin”. In adapting Gregory Maguire’s book to the stage, he and Winnie Holzman widened the focus of the musical. They trimmed the story of Elphaba (the book’s subtitle is “The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West”) and expanded the role of Glinda, the Good Witch (thus the change in subtitle). The musical is now a study in contrast between the two girls, between good and bad, yin and yang, and how they ended up on opposite sides.

Two of my favorite songs are “What is This Feeling?” and “Popular”. Too bad I don’t know how to let you hear the songs in this show. But at least I can share with you guys the hilarious lyrics.

For the first song, Elphaba and Galinda (who’ll rename herself Glinda later) meet for the first time as roommates in the school dorm of Shiz. Elphaba is a studious loner with green skin; she assumed she and her sister Nessarose will share a room. Galinda is Miss Popularity, the kind who’ll end up as Prom Queen. The song starts with them writing to their respective parents:

“What Is This Feeling?”

(spoken) Dearest darlingest Momsie and Popsical:

(spoken) My dear Father:

(sung) There's been some confusion
Over rooming here at Shiz.

But of course, I'll care for Nessa…

But of course, I'll rise above it…

For I know that's how you'd want me to respond.
Yes, there's been some confusion
For you see, my roommate is…

(spoken in a whisper) Unusually and exceedingly peculiar,
And altogether quite impossible to describe.

(spoken loudly) Blonde!

(sung) What is this feeling?
So sudden and new?

I felt it the moment
I laid eyes on you.

My pulse is rushing

My head is reeling

My face is flushing

What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame,
Does it have a name?

Unadulterated loathing!

For your face

Your voice

Your clothing

Let's just say—I loathe it all!
Every little trait, however small,
Makes my very flesh begin to crawl
With simple utter loathing!
There's a strange exhilaration
In such total detestation;
It's so pure and strong!
Though I do admit it came on fast,
Still I do believe that it can last.
And I will be loathing,
Loathing you
My whole life long!

Dear Galinda, you are just too good!
How do you stand it? I don't think I could!
She's a terror! She's a Tartar!
We don't mean to show a bias,
But Galinda, you're a martyr!

Well, these things are sent to try us!

Poor Galinda, forced to reside
With someone so disgusti-cified!
We all just want to tell you—
We're all on your side!
We share your…

What is this feeling / Loathing!
So sudden and new? / Unadulterated loathing!
I felt the moment / For her face, her voice
I laid eyes on you / Her clothing
My pulse is rushing / Let's just say—
My head is reeling / We loathe it all!
Oh, what is this feeling? / Every little trait
Does it have a name? / Makes our very flesh
Yes! / Begin to crawl.
Ahhh! / Ahhh!


There's a strange exhilaration / Loathing!
In such total detestation / Loathing!
So pure, so strong / Loathing!

So strong!

Though I do admit it came on fast,
Still I do believe that it can last.

And I will be loathing / Loathing!
For forever loathing / Loathing!
Truly deeply loathing / Loathing you
My whole / Loathing!
Life long! / Unadulterated loathing!


Later Elphaba and Galinda become friends. Galinda’s first instinct is to help her new friend:


(spoken) Elphie—now that we're friends, I've decided to make you my new project.

(spoken) You really don't have to do that.

(spoken) I know. That's what makes me so nice!
(sung) Whenever I see someone
Less fortunate than I
(And let's face it—who isn't
Less fortunate than I?)
My tender heart
Tends to start to bleed.
And when someone needs a makeover
I simply have to take over—
I know I know exactly what they need.
And even in your case,
Tho' it's the toughest case I've yet to face,
Don't worry—I'm determined to succeed!
Follow my lead,
And yes, indeed,
You… will… be…

You're gonna be popular!
I'll teach you the proper ploys,
When you talk to boys,
Little ways to flirt and flounce, awww!
I'll show you what shoes to wear,
How to fix your hair,
Everything that really counts

To be popular!
I'll help you be popular!
You'll hang with the right cohorts,
You'll be good at sports,
Know the slang you've got to know.
So let's start,
'Cause you've got an awfully long way to go!

Don't be offended by my frank analysis.
Think of it as personality dialysis.
Now that I've chosen to be come a pal, a
Sister and adviser,
There's nobody wiser!
Not when it comes to popular!
I know about popular!
And with an assist from me,
To be who you'll be,
Instead of dreary who-you-were, uh, -are!
There's nothing that can stop you
From becoming popu-
Ler… lar!

La la la la!
We're gonna make
You popular!

When I see depressing creatures
With unprepossessing features,
I remind them on their own behalf
To think of
Celebrated heads of state or
‘specially great communicators.
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don't make me laugh!

They were popular! Please…!
It's all about popular!
It's not about aptitude,
It's the way you're viewed.
So it's very shrewd to be
Very, very popular
Like me!

(spoken) Why, Miss Elphaba, look at you. You're beautiful.

(spoken) I… I have to go. (walks off)

(spoken) You’re welcome!
(sung) And though you protest
Your disinterest,
I know clandestinely—
You're gonna grin and bear it,
Your new found popularity!
La la la la!
You'll be popular—
Just not as quite as popular
As me!

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