On Saturday, we took Steppy into New York to see Wicked. A great show. I won’t give it away other than to say that the scene just before the intermission is spectacular. The actress who plays the wicked witch character belts out a beautiful song called “Defying Gravity” as she is lifted up off the stage, away from the other actors, and into the air. While they (we) watch her, awestruck, she flies and sings alone:
“So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
I’m flying high
And soon I’ll match them in renown
And nobody in all of Oz
No Wizard that there is or was
Is ever gonna bring me down!”
This, my friends, is a powerful moment. Brought the girl in the seat next to me to tears (okay me too)—and got the audience up on its feet, cheering. We were rightly moved. Who wouldn’t be? By the sight of a woman taking back her power, suspended above it all, proclaiming her strength and resolve.
In the play, the wicked stepmother, I mean WITCH is a resilient figure, imperfect and dignified, and fighting to heal a flawed Oz. She is sometimes flying, in her pointy black hat and long robes, waving a long broom and shouting out to a room full of mesmerized tourists. And she is always facing heinous injustice—bad Wizard. Bad. (But then again, that’s what makes the play so interesting, is watching to see how to she overcomes it all.)
And I can’t stop thinking about her—shake the picture of her floating in my head for anything–not even a merciless set of work deadlines, too many household chores, an uncooperative craving for cupcakes, or 36 hours with Steppy and its after-effects.
After all, who wouldn’t like to feel the exhilaration that must come from rising slowly towards a gilded sky, fueled by the sound of horns and drums and applause, propelled by sheer will and talent and rightness?
How I wish the wicked witch would’ve plucked me out of my seat and taken me with her. We have so much in common (truly).
That would’ve been something. You know?
Seeing Wicked—living vicariously in the witch’s moment—reminds me of a similar experience I had in Chicago many years ago.
I was at a Peter Gabriel concert with a gal pal and my then longtime boyfriend when, at one point in the show, Gabriel climbed into a clear human-sized bubble to sing something I just can’t remember (darn you middle-aged memory and where did I park in the lot today?). What I do remember, however, is that I was riveted. The way he maneuvered that bubble around a narrow stage was downright artful.
How did he do that, I still wonder? Keep the bubble steady while hitting all the right notes and navigating the props and musicians and even his own muscles and nerves? And yet, there he stood—as upright as upright gets. In perfect form, crooning from inside a thick plastic sheath, pushing it forward without incident, turning it over and over again like a wheel without missing anything…
I marvel at the things people can do. Wish I could too. (Wait…)
…If anybody knows where I can get a bubble on the cheap or how I can string myself up to a cloud, by all means, write. You know where to find me. (Look to the eastern sky…)
Until next time.