Wicked is a musical based on a novel by Gregory Maguire. It has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and libretto written by Winnie Holzman. Wicked is a story about the unlikely friendship between two girls, Elphaba the activist with green skin and the very popular and very blonde Glinda. The musical follows them from their first meeting and brief time spent as enemies and Shiz University-a school for sorcery. They become roommates and eventually form a friendship despite being polar opposites and both falling for the same boy. Glinda accompanies Elphaba to meet the Wizard in The Emerald City after her sorcery talents are discovered. Once there the Wizard is revealed to be a charlatan who tricks Elphaba into using her magic to enslave animals. The friends part ways as Glinda is sucked into the Wizards deception and corruption while Elphaba refuses to be seduced and falls from grace due to lies spread about her by the Wizard. Elphaba is now the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda becomes Glinda the Good but despite being seduced by the Wizard Glinda realizes the truth and rises to the occasion and uses her position to undo some of the damage caused by the Wizard and to send him packing.
Reviews for Wicked seem to be mixed. Although it was declared "The Best Musical of the decade" by Entertainment Weekly the three reviews I found don't favor much of the musical. Although, all three praise Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenowith (the original Elphaba and Glinda) as well as the adaptation done by Winnie Holzman that's where the praise ends. Charles Isherwood of Variety says that Stephen Schwartz is an "ill fit" for this musical and that "score features far too many competent but bland anthems written in an easy-listening Broadway pop mode." John Lahr of The New Yorker concurs stating that out of the 22 musical numbers "not one of them is memorable." Even Richard Zoglin of Time Magazine who seemed to criticize it the least felt the musical numbers were unmemorable. It's interesting that 2 of the 3 reviews I found thought the songs weren't memorable because I listened to the soundtrack and I will admit that I still have the chorus of "Popular" stuck in my head. Isherwood does mention that when he went to see Wicked it was given a standing ovation but he believes that this is a phenomenon that "the musical inadvertently explains in a number called "Dancing Through Life": "Life is painless / For the brainless."
Stephan Schwartz has had a long career on Broadway beginning with Butterflies are Free in 1969 and continuing today. He worked with Leonard Bernstein on Mass in 1971 and has received six Tony award nominations for his work on Wicked, Pippin, Godspell, Rags and Working. Wicked was Winnie Holzman's first time writing for the stage for which