Sunday, December 14, 2008

Live on stage: scary flying monkeys

So I went to see Wicked at the Detroit Opera House with my family today. It's not something I would have ever done on my own, but it was a Christmas present from my dad. Even though I knew nothing of the story, aside from the fact that it was related to The Wizard of Oz, I really have to say I enjoyed it. Though I never did figure out who the woman with the green skin was supposed to be.

As anyone who has ever seen The Wizard of Oz knows, flying monkeys are an integral part of the production. In fact, they play an even larger role in Wicked (though apparently not large enough to warrant a decent photo online). I liked how the flying monkeys were an allegory of sorts for animal rights, or at least a reminder that we shouldn't ever inflict mammals with wings just so we can make them our flying slaves.

Wicked was very political as a whole which is why I liked it so much despite its cheesy musical numbers. I saw allusions to Nazi era Germany and George W. Bush's politics of fear. There's just a lot in this musical (and, probably, the book, which I have not read) about how we treat people (and animals) who are perceived as different from us and how fear and ignorance work hand in hand to stoke the fires of intolerance.

Of course, another large part of the story is that ugly chicks can still find love so long as they're beautiful on the inside, or something like that. That part I found hard to buy, and not only because I'm shallow. It's because I remember very vividly the hideousness of the Wicked Witch in the original Oz. She was no beauty and she scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. As did those monkeys.

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