Wicked Brings Broadway to Honolulu

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Wicked Brings Broadway to Honolulu

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Oahu
Dec 21, 2012

I must be the only woman in America who has yet to see Wicked

That was my conclusion after asking about a dozen girlfriends if they wanted to go see the play running in Honolulu through January 12, 2013, and they all said something on the order of, “I’ve already seen it in New York, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, _________.”
To be fair, Hawaii is a bit of a distance from the epicenter of theater in the United States, and I hadn’t ventured to Broadway since moving to Hawaii right before that other end-of-the-world scare—Y2K. 

But just because I prefer the sands of Hanalei Bay, the thin trail of Kalalau, and the velvety mountains of Napali Coast doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy theater. I can wash the sand off my feet and the dig the red dirt from beneath my toenails every now and then and look somewhat presentable. 

After all, I have darkened the doorways of Manoa Valley Theater and Kauai Community College's Performing Arts Center. But the first was a community production, and the second a movie showing of the entirely offbeat comedy filmed in Hawaii called Get A Job.

Some girlfriends I asked had seen Wicked more than once. One girlfriend informed me she’d actually seen the show on Broadway with Kristin Chenoweth in the role of Glinda. My friend may have even raised her nose in the air when she said that, and I may have wanted to call her a name that rhymes with witch. But I didn’t.

And so I went alone. Boy, am I glad I did. Tickets were mostly sold out. Those remaining seats were sprinkled throughout the theater, some surprisingly close to the stage. And that’s how I ended up in the second row. The second row, I say--and texted as much to the high-nosed, name-dropping friend. I could see body microphones stuck to the center of the actors’ foreheads. I could see the seam where Elphaba’s green bodysuit met her green painted hands. I could see a thread hanging from Glinda’s party dress. And I could stare at all of the actors’ and dancers’ boots. Leather boots. Buttoned boots. Heeled boots. Laced boots. I experienced major boot envy.

In full disclosure, I didn’t know the plot of Wicked before I purchased my ticket. I just knew it was a long-running Broadway musical that had won awards and set box office records. And it was the talk of Honolulu town. At the Lihue and Honolulu airports, I kept hearing snippets of other travelers’ conversations. “I’m meeting my sister in Honolulu and going to see Wicked.” I saw Facebook posts with photos and the status updates, “Taking my daughter to see Wicked.” Everyone was talking about and going to see Wicked. My Dollar Rent A Car agent, Pat, who knows I like a Star-Advertiser and rental cars with real trunks, said to me, “You know there’s a line in The Wizard of Oz that says they were friends.”

“The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch?” I asked.

I knew Wicked was somehow related to the Wizard of Oz. But I didn’t know it was about the friendship of two women. I didn’t know it was about bully disguised as goodness and the nerdy, smart kid from grade school who is taunted because she is the wrong color. In this case, green.

“She’s actually green?” I asked my friend, who was, by now, probably pen pals with Kristin Chenoweth.

Five days after I saw Wicked, a young man in Connecticut shot and killed 20 schoolchildren and six schoolteachers. I read he was aloof and carried a briefcase instead of a backpack in high school. I can only guess he was ostracized and, perhaps, bullied. I couldn’t help but think about Wicked again and again as the sad and horrifying story played out in Connecticut. 

When Wicked debuted on Broadway in 2003, it did so amidst mixed reviews. Some theater critics called it overblown and preachy. But it collected scores of awards and filled the theater night after night. Wicked is the 12th longest-running Broadway show in history, and its touring productions have taken the show to almost every continent on earth. And, now, to Hawaii.

We may never know what motivated the shooter in Connecticut, but I hope Wicked runs forever, spreading its message, because as the packed houses around the world suggest, it is a universal message. And, I would add, a decidedly necessary one. The question raised by the musical--Are people born wicked? Or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?--may be impossible for us to answer. But what we can do is remember our humanness. To see ourselves and others in the best light possible. When Fiyero is transformed into a scare crow and Elphaba tells him he's still beautiful, Fiyero tells her she doesn't have to lie to him. "It's not lying," she says. "It's looking at things another way." Wayne Dyer says it this way: When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

I slipped out of The Blaisdell Concert Hall and hopped in my car, dialing my friend. “It’s my favorite play ever," she said. "I should have gone again.”

The irony is I wasn't without a friend in the theater. Turns out, without planning it, I sat right next to a fellow Outrigger employee. “Hi Kim,” she said, as I took my seat. "Hi Char."

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