I spent the day at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore to once again enter into the experience of “Wicked”; the great broadway hit, that, at first glance, has the makings of a superficial show of the story of two witches, Glinda and Elphaba. Deep down, though, both witches struggle questioning who they are, and maybe worse yet, the image of who they are that is seen on the outside…one, Glinda, who cares more about acceptance and likability and the second, Elphaba, the “wicked” witch, who fights for authenticity resulting from her own life struggle of being “different” than the rest because of the color of her skin. Elphaba finds herself fighting an establishment, which she loved and admired, when she finds out that the Wizard and leaders of Oz lack integrity and the authenticity that she has fought so hard to maintain, for herself and the “animals” that were being oppressed and silenced, unable to question the status quo of the establishment.
The two, together, show the power of relationship and how the other often forces out of us what may be our weaknesses and shortcomings in order to grow more fully as human beings. In the end, the two realize that they have often been at odds with one another, but manage to work through their differences, the surface need to be liked and the constant battle to fight for what is right. They understand the need to forgive and the unlimited power they have when they come together as one.
Of course, it is complicated by the attractive charm of Fiyero, who rides the fence on acceptance and authenticity, but in the end, recognizing his unhappiness of pursuing only what lies on the surface, by finding his true love and heart in the green-skinned Elphaba because of her depth, passion, and drive that calls him forth, turns away from the loyal follower of the establishment, Glinda, for something that offers more out of life.
In the end it is obvious that they have all been changed and impacted by each other, and despite being at odds, have grown because of their love for one another. It shows that it truly is what we hate the most about the other that we don’t like about ourselves and what we often crave and desire deep within because of what has been lacking in our own lives. In the end, if we allow ourselves to enter into the Wicked experience, we realize we are both Glinda and Elphaba in many ways, whether we want to admit it or not. We all have the drive to be accepted by our peers and others as we grow up, even Elphaba wanted that, maybe even more so because of her circumstances. It is, however, the authenticity that Elphaba exhibits that begins to show in Glinda in the choices she makes in the end, that makes you want to love her all the more and yet empathize with her at the same time. Will she make it and can she continue to wear the smile in life without losing her soul? Better yet, the question is left with us, can we do the same without selling our souls for what may be a fleeting moment of fame rather than the sustaining power of love and authenticity of who we really are? That is the internal battle of Glinda and Elphaba, but in reality, the internal battle within all of us and humanity as a whole.