My Wickedly Beautiful Experiance

This paper reflects the research and thoughts of a student at the time the paper was written for a course at Bryn Mawr College. Like other materials on Serendip, it is not intended to be "authoritative" but rather to help others further develop their own explorations. Web links were active as of the time the paper was posted but are not updated.

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My Wickedly Beautiful Experiance

Malorie Garrett

Describing beauty is a hard task for me because I have such a hard time defining and using it. As a word, it seems to me either to be to vague or to concrete for me to want to use it a lot. I would much rather use other words to describe what ever it is I find beautiful. I think the problem I have with the word is with it's connotation not it's denotation. The Webster New World College Dictionary, says that beauty is "the quality attributed to whatever pleases or satisfies the senses or mind, as by line, color, form, texture, proportion, rhythmic motion, tone, ect., or by behavior, attitude, etc" and "beautiful is applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind" (127-128)(Webster New World Dictonary. Fourth Edition. 2000: IDG Books Worldwide). I agree with what it says, and I especially like how it links beauty and pleasure, yet I feel that the word beauty holds more than just what is stated in the definition. They describe it as pleasing the senses, yet I feel we use it more for just what we see with our eyes rather than all our senses and our mind. I know that when I was asked to think of something beautiful I immediately thought of a picture. It was only after the class discussion did I "realize" that lots things can be beautiful, not just those ascetically pleasing. Once I had this revelation, I thought of many things that I found beautiful. To me, it brought up the question of what is allowed to be dubbed beautiful. Does something that is beautiful must have an emotional or meaningful component? Throughout this paper I will be attempting to come close to if not an answer at least my answer to the question "what is beauty?"

As I thought of an example that I wanted to use for this paper, I tried to think of an experience that appealed to more than one of my senses. So I thought of something's that I love to see if in that I could find a beautiful experience. Then I thought of something that I find beautiful, moving, and enjoyable: the theatre. I love musicals, I find them beautiful. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. There are so many different aspects that go into a stage production, especially when it is a musical. Each of the aspects can be beautiful, as well as when they are all come together. Every time I go to the theatre, especially in New York, I have a beautiful experience even if the music, plot, lyrics, and even actors are bad. The way that everything flows together to create such a wonderful experience, and the fact that the actors, musicians, and technicians pull it off seamlessly eight times a week is simple beautiful.

The musical that I am going to talk about is currently my favorite musical and, in my opinion, the best musical currently on Broadway. It is called Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witched of Oz. It is based on the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It tells the story of Elphaba, the green girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West. It starts with her and her sister arriving at Shiz University, a school for magic. An outcast because of her skin color, we soon find out that Elphaba has strong magical abilities. This gift gets her private lesson with Madame Morrible, a teacher and a witch herself, ruining her bubbly roommate Glinda's hopes to study with Madame Morrible. The two start out loathing each other but end up becoming best friends. At the end of the first act, Elphaba's dream comes true. She is invited to The Emerald City to meet with The Wizard. Glinda and Elphaba meet the Wonderful Wizard of Oz only to find out that he is not so wonderful. It is he, they find out, who has been causing harm to the Animals, intelligent, talking animals. He plans to use Elphaba's unique gift to control the Animals. She refuses and her and Glinda run away. Glinda suggests that Elphaba apologies to the Wizard and work with him since it is what she has always wanted, but Elphaba says that she can no longer want that. She decides to fly away into a life as a outlaw rather than work with the wizard. She wants Glinda to come with her, but Glinda decided to stay and work with the Wizard. It is a turning point for both characters. It sets them down their respective paths: that of the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch. The second act chronicles the more known part of the story, including Dorothy and the death of Elphaba's sister. Having been separate both physically as well as by their conflicting paths in the second act, they come together right before Elphaba's death to confirm their friendship singing, "Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good" (Footnote:All quotes I from Wicked wither transcribed by me off the CD or else me paraphrasing what was said in the stage production from memory. I do not take credit for these words, they are the property of Steven Swartz (music and lyrics) and Winnie Holzman (book). For more info, go to ends with Glinda banishing the Wizard and asking the citizen of Oz if she can be allowed to try and be Glinda the Good for them.

I thought that my experiences with show would be a good example of what I find beautiful not only because I love it, but also because beauty is a theme of the show. Elphaba has trouble seeing herself as beautiful because of her unique skin color. She says to her boy friend that she wishes she could be beautiful for him. When he says she is beautiful, she tells him he doesn't have to lie to which he answers "It's not lying, it's just looking at things in another way". I really like the scene and I think it speaks well to what we are trying to do in class: to look at beauty in a new light.

I love this musical and have been fortunate to see it on Broadway twice. The first time that I saw it was about a month or two after it had first opened on Broadway. We had bought tickets before it opened so we had no idea what to expect going in. Not only were we pleasantly surprised how good it was, but we where blown away. The music and lyrics are so beautiful. I do not really know how to explain why I think it's beautiful but what I do know is that whenever I listen to it, it makes me feel good. Also, I know I like something when I sing it. I just get this good feeling, like a vibration when I sing along with the music. What I feel matches really well with the dictionaries description of something beautiful as the "highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind" (127). The lyrics to I find really beautiful, even if they can be a little corny. They just capture the mood of the characters and the scene so well. For example, a line that I particular find beautiful comes in the first song in the second act called "Thank Goodness". Glinda, now a public figure, is trying to convince the people, and herself, that she "couldn't be happier" because her dreams came true. Despite her happy appearance, we become aware in the song that she is far from happy with her current situation:

. . . I couldn't be happier, no, I couldn't be happier. Thought it is , I admit, the tiniest bit unlike I anticipate. But I couldn't be happier, simply, couldn't be happier. Well, not simply. Cause getting your dreams, strange but it seems, a little, well, complicated. There's a kind of a sort of cost. There's a couple of things get lost. There are bridges you cross you didn't know you've crossed until you cross. And if that joy, that thrill, doesn't it thrill like you think it will. Still, with this perfect finally the cheers in the valley, who, who wouldn't be happier. So, I couldn't be happier because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true. Well, isn't it?

The way this song shows Glinda's vulnerability through her mask of happiness is in my opinion beautiful. She has what she thought she always wanted, yet something is missing, and that is her friendship with Elphaba. It is especially beautiful when you here it sung, because you can hear the emotion in her voice. Especially at the end, you hear her trying to convince herself that "happy is what happens when all your dreams come true".

After having seen it the first time, one thing that my friend and I both thought was the best part of the musical was Elphaba's actress Idina Menzel. She is truly a beautiful person. And while physically I do think she is beautiful, both when is and isn't green, that is not why I call her a beautiful person. She has a beautiful voice, and I think she is one of the best singers I have ever seen. The way she sings and portrays Elphaba is just so amazing to watch. She really brings you into the character and makes you love her. There is something about her on stage that just makes her so beautiful. It is hard to see just how truly beautiful she is if you haven't seen her perform. In the past, I have showed my friends pictures of Idina and other actors I find beautiful and said to them, "Aren't they just gorgeous?" and they have said "Yeah they are ok". I have gotten very mad at my friends who respond this way. But over the years I realized that they do not think they are beautiful cause all they see is the persons picture, they have not seen them perform. There is something about seeing a live performance that is just so beautiful. My favorite song in the musical is "Defying Gravity", it is the moment when Elphaba decides to defy the Wizard. Not only is it a great song and a great moment, but Elphaba flies up into the air for the end of the song. It is the most beautiful part of the musical, Elphaba flying above the stage singing "Everyone deserve the chance to fly!". And even though I was able to show my friends a clip of Idina performing this song at the Tony's, its still lakes the beauty of seeing it live.(The link for this clip is at the bottom of the page) Luckily, it is not just me who thinks that Idina is beautiful, Idina won a Tony this year for her performance in Wicked.

The second time I saw it with my friend was spur of the moment. After we saw her win the Tony, we knew we had to see it again with her, because we realized that the musical would never be as good without her in it. We decided to get the cheapest seats way in the back of the balcony and try to win the lottery that day. Like some other Broadway shows, Wicked has a lottery ever day two hours before the show for the sixteen or so seats in the front row. On a given day at the lottery there could be between two to four hundred people there. Each winner is allowed up to two seats, so usually only eight names are called. We had tickets for the Wednesday night performance, so we went there before the matinee and put our names in to no avail. So that night we decided to go back and try again since we figured we had nothing to lose since we had tickets for it anyway. I remember being stressed about winning in the afternoon, but I was calm in the evening. They called the first name and the women who is was screamed "I'm going to see Wicked!!". She was so excited, I was so happy for her. The next name they read was mine. I remember my jaw dropping as looked at my friend. I could not believe it was me: I had a moment where I forgot my name. They had to call me twice before I raised my hand and came forward to get my tickets. I remember my hands where shaking while I was getting my money out. When we got to our seats, we made friends with the other people who had won. The women who yelled was next to us with her daughter and it was their first time seeing it. My friend I clapped before Idina Menzel even came on stage, we were so excited. I cried twice, once during "Defying Gravity" and then again at the end of the performance. I am getting emotional just thinking about it. It was just such a beautiful experience, with the music, the words, the phenomenal actors, and everything else that went into the production. I was, and I am still, connected with the musical through my senses as well as emotionally. Seeing it was defiantly the "highest degree of please" for me. Looking back, I can say it was one of the best experiences in my life. It may seem superficial to say that, but winning the lottery and being able to see the musical from the front row was just such a beautiful experience for me, it is something I will never forget.

1)Wicked The Musical , the musicals official site

2)You Send It, This is the link to the video clip I uploaded of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith singing "Defying Gravity" at the Tony's

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