Ozian Politics and the Bush Administration 101


Quiz: Who said these things?

1. “Where I'm from, we believe all sorts of things that aren't true. We call it - "history.”
2.  "Man's called a traitor - or liberator. Is one a crusader - or ruthless invader?”
3.  “The best way to bring people together is to give them a really good enemy”

A.    Karl Rove advising George Bush behind closed doors.
B.    Dick Cheney explaining the point of the Legacy Tour to George Bush
C.    George Bush on truth serum
D.    The Wizard Oz revealing his M.O. in the Broadway musical Wicked”.

Answer: It’s all Wicked!

Wicked, the blockbuster Broadway hit that asks the musical question “what is the nature of evil?”  is an uncannily prescient examination of the art of scapegoating. The story of a feeble figurehead employing smoke and mirrors to rally the citizenry around a designated evil-doer couldn’t possibly have been written as anything other than a response to the post 9/11 tricky-dickstery of the Bush Administration.

But it was. Wicked, which opened at the Orpheum on Friday (in case you hadn’t seen the green City Hall dome)  and had actually premiered here in 2003 before its New York opening -- was based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire.

That it reads like the play book of Bush/Rove/Cheney axis of evil gives the play a profound resonance for our time.

But the play, which has landed for the long hall on Market street, doesn’t merely have Bush-bashing going for it.

Wicked turns conventional Oz wisdom on its head as it offers a alternative view of the whole Dorothy versus the Wicked Witch of the West unpleasantries. With Dorothy off-stage and The Witch front and center, this is a  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern take on the story. And it provides  a Rashomon-esque re-examination of the Witch’s wickedness.

Before having wickedness thrust upon her, Elphaba was a misanthropic school girl who had the misfortune (in addition to the misfortune of being born green) to have goody two shoes Glinda as her roommate.  The verbal dodge ball and hard won friendship between the effervescent ninny Glinda and the Goth brainiac Elphaba is, camp and politics aside,  the heart and soul of Wicked.

The delectable teenage angst replete with Bring It On style catty sparring, petty jealousies and stolen boyfriends are the specialty of Winnie Holtzman, creator of “My So Called Life.” Holtzman wrote he book for the show (with music by Stephen Schwartz) .

Wicked, (like Cats before it) may be here now and forever. For better or worse, totalitarian tendencies and teenage drama are here now and forever.

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