Long before Dorothy arrived in Oz, Glinda, the munchkins and the Wicked Witch had full lives.
“Wicked,” playing at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. now through Jan. 22, opens with Oz celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch, whose real name is Elfaba. Glinda reflects on their long, shared history. Even though they could not be more different, it turns out the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch had once been roommates and best friends.
The musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman, was based on a novel released in 1995, “The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” by Gregory Maguire.
It tells the origin story of the Wicked Witch, starting with the shock of her being born green. Unsurprisingly, Elfaba leads a lonely life. Other children don’t want to play with her and her father expects her to devote her life to taking care of her sister who uses a wheelchair.
Once the sisters go to school, Elfaba discovers that she has powers greater than any within Oz and that her powers are the key to meeting the great and powerful Wizard. Yet, things aren’t as they seem, and Elfaba and Glinda soon learn that the Wizard isn’t all that he seems.
While learning about the Wicked Witch, we also learn how Dorothy’s house came to land in Oz, why the Wicked Witch was so obsessed with the sparkly slippers Dorothy took from her sister and how flying monkeys, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion all came to be.
We don’t want to give away any spoilers, but anyone who loves “The Wizard of Oz” will love learning more about their favorite characters in the classic story.
My 8-year-old son loved the show. There are incredible special effects, including a dragon with light-up eyes, and the singing is, of course, incredible. The story touches on many themes to which children can relate, from the desire to be popular to how hard it is to do the right thing when faced with peer pressure and giving up something you really want. The story also explores the strong bonds of friendship, the importance of helping others and standing up with those with less power.
While it’s not necessary to be familiar with “The Wizard of Oz,” I reminded my son of the story before we saw “Wicked” to provide some context. However, “Wicked” can easily stand on its own. Our opinion is that it’s appropriate for children of all ages, as long as they are able to sit through the show! (It runs 2 hours and 45 minutes.)
Good to Know:
Wicked runs through Jan. 22..
Running time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission.
Drinks and snacks are available for sale before the show and during intermission. Drinks can only be consumed in the theater in a special Kennedy Center cup, which costs $4.50. Select snacks purchased at the Kennedy Center can also be consumed in the theater.
Ticket prices vary based on date, time and seat location but most performances have $59.00 rush tickets available.
The most convenient place to park is the Kennedy Center’s parking lot. Parking costs $25.00 and can be reserved. There are several other parking garages nearby. Street parking is hard to find and is mostly limited to two hours, so it won’t work for this performance!
Jamie Davis Smith is a regular contributor to Washington FAMILY magazine. A mother of four, she loves exploring the D.C. area with her family. Reach her at [email protected].