I remember the first time I heard a song from the play “Wicked”. It was a slow week at work and I was browsing videos at Myspace (it was that long ago) looking for something new to listen to. I caught the song “I’m Not That Girl”, which was basically a song about a girl saying she was ordinary and not the kind of girl that a boy would choose to love.
I listened to that song everyday for hours that week on loop. I even looked for videos of that song being performed. However, I didn’t want to read the synopsis of the play, because I knew in my heart that when I watched it, I wanted to be surprised. I knew some of the songs of course, but the whole story I kept a mystery to myself so when I had an opportunity to watch it I would see it and feel every moment for the first time.
Of course a play like that didn’t stay under the radar for long. Filipinos do go around the world after all, and the lucky ones got to see it on Broadway or the West End stages. I never longed to go to the United States or London, but for this play, I felt a longing to go to places I’ve never been, and urged friends and family in the cities that it was to play in to go watch it. I never really got anyone to watch it of course, the main response I got was “Why would I go watch it without you?” I don’t know if I was happy about that. I did get promises that if I was to go to the United States, friends would take me, promises that filled me with hope that the one play I wanted to watch in my life, I would get to see someday, however faint that hope was. (Which, for the friends who are reading is, I’m still collecting on in the future)
Then came last weekend, when we were sitting down in my seat at the Marina Bay Sands theater looking at the stage set up for the musical I never thought I would watch for at least a decade. The first few notes had me tearing up, and I admit, many of the performances left me touching my handkerchief to my eyes. The Defying Gravity performance left me shaking in my seat. It was, a surreal experience that exceeded every expectation I had. Every note was sung perfectly, all the actors playing their parts to a T. I was surprised at every nuance, every joke, every twist. I was so glad I didn’t read the story and it gave me a better experience for it.
I felt truly touched by the experiences played out on the stage, and while I was never an outcast, I was never “The Girl” too. All my life I’ve been “Normal Girl” and while I know I’ve been lucky, I’ve watched people so much luckier throw their chances away.
And come on, who but 1% of the population can say that they’ve been “The Girl” or “The Boy” of the population’s dreams, and I think this is the appeal of the play. To give the other perspective of people who have been misunderstood, miscast by circumstances and experiences brought to them by a world who’s main objective is the pursuit of beauty. We’ve almost all felt so ugly and unhappy about what we see in the mirror and felt the sting of not being to conform to society’s standards that we felt a little green.
So I guess, all I’m saying is, Gregory Maguire, thank you for writing the book that this play was based on. Thank you Stephen Schwartz for writing music and lyrics that will forever haunt my life. Thank you for the voice that told me look for songs to fill my life that day, and thank you for the person that brought me to see it, even with all the hesitation and doubt of them not liking it.