Good or evil: choice or birthright?
“It turns the idea on its head, of what it means to be good and evil—it’s about finding grey,” says Matt Shingledecker. He’s calling in between shows on the Canadian leg of the second North American tour of Wicked—that hugely successful Broadway musical which debuted in 2003 and has smashed box-office records, spawned numerous successful productions around the world and garnered a slew of awards.
Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, which is itself a parallel story to the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The musical tells the story of Oz’s two famous witches, Glinda (the Good Witch of the North) and Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West). Shingledecker plays Fiyero, the love interest of both witches and a foil for their personalities and the show’s moral deliberations.
“The show examines whether or not one is born evil, born wicked, or has wickedness thrust upon them,” he says. “That idea, of going to the grey area between what is right and what is wrong, everyone can relate to in some way.”
This is part of the reason for the show’s rampant success, says Shingledecker, though he also attributes it to numerous other factors. There’s the simple familiarity with The Wizard of Oz story and characters, which have circulated through pop culture for decades. Wicked has been lauded for its refreshingly contemporary entry point into this world, through the eyes of two strong women—both are pop-culture icons in and of themselves. The show has also achieved repute for its complex technical aspects and catchy music.
“I remember hearing one of [Wicked's] songs in a movie theatre before the movie played, as like a pop hit,” Shingledecker recalls. “Back in the day, when musicals were in their heyday in the ’40s and ’50s, when they were sort of the American art form—those were the pop standards. Now it’s different, but this show was able to do that. A lot of those songs, people listen to as pop songs.”
Until Sun, Jul 20 (8 pm Monday – Saturday, 7:30 pm Sunday, 2 pm weekend matinees)
Directed by Joe Mantello
Jubilee Auditorium, $50 – $150