Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Do Wicked Fans Really Not Know Enough About Theatre?

If you say your favorite musical is Les Miserables, Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, or Newsies you don't know enough about theatre.  -A tweet I stumbled upon this morning.

Hey guys, I usually avoid posting things on here that have any kind of negativity, however I thought this would be an opportunity to start a dialogue about this topic.   THIS IS NOT MEANT IN ANY WAY TO ATTACK OR CALL OUT THE PERSON WHO SAID THIS.  I just think this is an interesting leaping point for a dialogue on this topic! :)  I have always unashamedly said that Wicked is my favorite musical since I saw it for the first time in 2005.  I have had friends who have wholeheartedly agreed that Wicked is their favorite musical, others who have liked it but not found it to be their favorite and others still who have just not enjoyed it.  Everybody is 100% entitled to their opinions, and I respect what people have to say.  This post is not meant to attack this tweet, but to present an opposing opinion.
I have a problem with this particular statement as a big fan of all of the shows mentioned.  Wicked and Les Mis in particular are two of my favorite shows.  I have heard things in similar voice of this tweet for years of course, that Wicked is not the only good show out there and that people who think it's the only musical are uninformed and ignorant in the world of theatre.  
Wicked is my favorite show though I quite agree that it is not the only great musical.  I have seen numerous other shows that I have loved and that have stuck with me, including but not limited to Next to Normal, Rent, Newsies, Phantom, Les Miserables, The Book of Mormon, Pippin, Godspell, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Spamalot, Spring Awakening, Legally Blonde, Beauty and the Beast, Fiddler on the Roof, Mary Poppins, The Lion King etc.    There are many more, but I do not consider myself ignorant in the world of theatre.  I am very passionate about Wicked, but I also keep up with other musicals and go to see them whenever I can.  
I am well learned in Shakespeare, having studied his work in Middle School AND High School.  I personally think he is one of the greatest writers of all time, especially his monologues and soliloquies.  He really knows how to tap into a character and get their thoughts out there in a very poignant and sensible way.  Macbeth, for instance, is one of my all time favorite plays ever written.  It digs so deep into human nature and comes to life on paper.  Onstage however, when done right, it is bone chilling.  I  am familiar with mostly all of the Golden Age musicals, and have a high level of respect and admiration for them.  
The point I am attempting to make is that Wicked, Phantom, Les Mis, and Newsies are huge staple shows in theatre because they are good, just like My Fair Lady and West Side Story were (and still are) big staple shows back in the day.  Wicked, Phantom, Les Mis and Newsies will be shows that we bring our kids up on.  Which brings up another interesting point.  Many kids are brought to the theatre by their parents, and end up seeing one of these shows as their first Broadway show.  Wicked was mine!  I have since branched out and seen numerous other shows on Broadway and on Tour, but Wicked has just happened to stay my favorite over the course of the last 9 years.  Many of these shows introduce people to theatre and therefore have a special place in their heart.  

They all have a mass appeal that so many people can relate to and have stood the test of time.   What is so wrong about that?  Just because a show is popular doesn't mean that it is generic or bland, though I know some people feel that they are, which is their personal opinion.  Each of these shows offer something totally different.  I love Wicked for it's message of love and friendship, Phantom for it's hauntingly beautiful music, Les Mis for it's Christ parallel and deeply moving story, and Newsies for its feisty and underdog appreciating message. Why shouldn't my favorite show be Wicked?  Why shouldn't yours be Les Mis or Newsies

I feel that this tweet implies that those who love the mentioned shows haven't explored other avenues of theatre, which is not the case for many of us.  Isn't the whole point of theatre that it it supposed to touch us all on a different level?  Several of my friends do not like Wicked and though I have a very different viewpoint, I accept that not everyone is gonna think like me.  I don't tell them they don't know enough about theatre!  They do the same for me.  I am not saying that people who don't like Wicked are not allowed to have their own opinion, but I AM saying that just because someone loves Wicked does NOT mean that they don't know anything about theatre.

What do you guys think?  Tweet me @FlyingHighWKD, email me at or comment on this post!  


Alyssa said...

Interesting Topic. I think the many thing is too many just "assume" fans of shows like Wicked, etc don't know enough about theatre. Theatre is a form of art. Art is all based on the perception of the viewer. Unfortunately, things tend to become like a "shouting match" between groups when it comes to online social circles. It often gets quickly forgotten that the point of the experience is to go and simply ENJOY it.
As for myself, yes I have always been a very passionate Wicked fan. Have been since 2004. It has touched in a way very few (if any other thing) has. However, over time, I got to looking into other shows and after seeing them, I found myself very much enjoying and liking them as well. This is the case with my second favorite show "Spamalot" and the show "Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat." While not on Broadway, I did see these two productions at various other places, and as said before, each was very fun and enjoyable.
The next show I am seeing will be the Touring production of "We Will Rock You" coming up in April. I am already quite excited about it!
To wrap up my thoughts, I will say that I look at these theatre "families" online here like a "kinship." It is important to respect other members of said kinship, and not forget that our passion for Arts is what bonds us!

Kyle said...

Hi Alyssa, I totally agree. Thanks so much for your thoughtfully written comment. Art is 100% subjective! -Kyle

Anonymous said...

Wicked was my first musical, which I stumbled upon in 7th grade. I loved the style of belting, the power of the voices, and the way songs could shape a story. I loved the powerful feminist message and the emphasis on friendship in the show. It's the show that sparked my love for theatre and has since then, stayed my favorite.
Since then, I have submerged myself into it, seeing as many shows i can, learning more and more. I've seen from Show Boat to Next to Normal, practically studied Stephan Sondheim's lyrics, and invested my time (and money) into shows both well-know and not. I'm the only student my english teacher has seen reading Shakespeare for fun. So when someone says that, just because Wicked is my favorite show, I'm not a "real" theatre fan, I find that assumption crazy.
Yeah, there are people who have just seen Wicked or the Lion King and never anything else, because they're not that interested in it. One of my friends admits that she does not like musicals. She saw Wicked later and admitted to me that she actually liked it. Did she want to borrow RENT from me? Unfortuantly not.
Something that we as a fan community have to see is that, often people just see a show because they heard good things about the story, or want "the experience of a Broadway show" or even see it for an actor. Just because they saw a show and liked it dosnt mean they're ravenous theatre fans. Could they become one? Absolutely. Tell 10 year old me that years later she would only have Broadway showtunes on her iPod and a Pippin poster on her wall and she'd think you were crazy!
But what I'm trying to say is that often the most popular musicals are people's favorites. They're popular because people like them and keep them running so more people can see them and love them to. And those shows are amazing gateway musicals into the abundance of theatre. Without Les Mis, I never would have found The Pirate Queen. Without RENT i never would've found Next to Normal.
And it's cool if you only like Wicked It's art. Enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, I stumbled across this post on one of the Wicked Facebook pages. I happen to also consider Wicked my favorite musical, and have seen it 8 times both on tour and on Broadway. But, in the past 4 years, I've also seen over 30 other Broadway shows. I think it depends on the reason you buy a ticket. Are you attending a show because you happen to like a few of it's tunes? Or because you know you'll have that edge of your seat feeling? Each time I've seen Wicked (and any show really), I see people around me who either "get it" or "don't get it." I've seen countless people cry at the end of Defying Gravity, but have also heard countless people say that the show was "hard to follow." I think my issue with Wicked specifically is that it can please both an audience that doesn't have a theatre intelligence and an audience that does. Even if someone had no idea what was going on, they very well might still say it was "good" because of the spectacle appeal. But, for those that understand the power behind the words and overall themes, it's an experience like no other. Every time I hear someone say "Oh, so now she's turned 'Wicked'" during intermission, I want to slam my head against a brick wall...With any show that can be considered an "entry level" show, or a household name, there is that stigma of having a not so intelligent audience (as far as theatre goes). Thus, the problem is that shows like Wicked, Phantom, Les Mis, Lion King, Rent, Newsies etc. are to the theatre world as One Direction, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry are to the music world. Still, I truly believe that there are select fans out there who know what's what, and still have claimed mega-musicals to be their favorite because it's a benchmark for them; one that gives off a mind blowing feeling. I have to believe that, I'm one of those fans. :)