My Christmas treat this year was a visit to see ‘Wicked: The Musical’ at the Playhouse Theatre in Edinburgh. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s set before, during and after ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and tells the stories of the good and bad witches. Or are they? I’d heard about it from various people for years, and never expected to be able to see it unless a film version was made, and so I was delighted when I heard it was touring to Edinburgh. I know some writers play music as an inspiration while they are writing, and I wondered if this might also be a chance to see if I thought something like that would work for me.
My seat was a fairly high one, some distance from the stage, but once the performance began it was dark enough that I could concentrate on what was happening beyond the footlights. My two favourite musicals are ‘Good News’ (set in an American co-educational college in the 1920s) and ‘Salad Days’ (set in London in the 1950s just after a young couple have left university). So I enjoyed the first half especially, as it’s largely set in the magical university where Glinda and Elphaba study. Later on (trying not to give away too much of the plot) the girls end up in opposition to each other, but their friendship remains. Many characters from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ are woven into the story, including the Great Oz himself, as well as the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Man and The Scarecrow, and it was fun to recognise each as he appeared. However, some elements of the plot didn’t seem to make sense and even now that I’ve thought about them afterwards I’m still left with unanswered questions.
The costumes were fabulous, but I didn’t come away humming any of the tunes. It was sometimes hard to make out words of the songs, but the group of schoolgirls behind me must have already listened to the CD since they were singing bits of the score before the curtains even opened! I think it’s been ten years since I last saw a live musical performance – life does get in the way, sometimes – and I did enjoy my evening out. But I’ll stick to writing in silence; I’ve discovered music is too intrusive when I’m trying to cudgel my brains.
By the way, it’s nearly the end of the year and I’ve made 26 squares for my blanket – well on track! I hope everyone has a good Christmas, and that Santa brings you all the books you want. I’ll write again in the New Year – meanwhile, enjoy the rest of 2014.