America, Countries

This is Wicked and more like Storm Elphaba

Don’t know about you but I don’t think Eunice covers it… this is Wicked and more like Storm Elphaba.

I mean Eunice IS the best Kennedy of them all, JFK’s sister who founded the Special Olympics.

In honour of their sister Rosemary who was institutionalised after a frontal lobotomy.

Or Timothy’s mum from the Bible, a spring nymph from Greek mythology, or randomly Eunice Tate from the sitcom Soap which spawned Billy Crystal.

No, this is Wicked and more like Storm Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, from the musical Wicked.

Life’s a witch

Coven love-in: The Wicked Witches

How Gregory Maguire came up with the idea to give the witches, Elphaba and Glinda. a back story one can only wonder.

But Wicked the Musical is a delight and probably best to wait.

Until the storms subside before visiting your theatre to take in the spectacle.

And it’s playing at the Apollo Victoria in London’s West End.

It was thankfully a clement evening when we were invited by Disney on Broadway to attend the show at the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin.

We were very glad we dropped in (if you’d indulge us in a Wizard of Oz reference).

The Wizard of Oz, of course, is imprinted in our cultural lives, but alas overlooked by those who name their storms.

I mean did nobody in the think tank put Dorothy forward instead of Dudley?

Wham Baum

Puppy love: Dorothy and Toto

L. Frank Baum’s masterpiece, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has layers.

And had them long before Shrek, although we’re in no way disparaging the Ogre.

But Baum is credited with satirising American populist politics of the late 19th century.

What we do know is that the author did borrow from a real storm.

A newspaper editor (only the best), Baum was inspired by the twin tornadoes that ripped through the town of Irving, Kansas in 1879.

With one of the victims none other than a Dorothy Gale.

The originals

Straw deal: The Scarecrow

Other aspects of the story relate to Baum’s perigrinations… the community of Castle Park near Holland, Michigan, where he lived during summers.

The yellow brick road was said to have derived from one such in Peeksill, New York.

And Baum knew that from having attended Peekskill Military Academy.

And the characters?

Well, the young Baum, confessed that he was haunted by the thought of a scarecrow chasing him across the fields.

The Tinman was also from his imagination, from shop window displays, while the Lion, well, was just a lion really.

Uncle Henry was Baum’s father-in-law Henry Gage and Auntie Em his mother-in-law.

While the witches were from Auntie Ems’ research, although the modern-day ones do have a hint of my own mother-in-law.

Treading the boards

Ride on: And she looks like a witch

As is the way of these things there is usually an anniversary and this year is no exception.

While Baum’s classic was written in 1900, it first took to the stage on the Chicago Grand Opera House in 1902, before touring the Upper Mid-West.

And then going to the Majestic Theatre in Broadway in NY.

Oz came to most of us, of course, through the 1939 film.

And for one wide-eyed country girl in the bogs of Co. Donegal in the north-west of Ireland it truly was a life-changing experience.

Her first time in a cinema, in Derry, and a life-changing moment when she learned how Travel can change a monochrome world into a technicolor fantasy.

And she has been living that life ever since and passing on that joy of travel to those of us who are blessed to call her Mum.





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