I’m about 1/3 through Wicked, and having seen the musical adaptation, I’m somewhat confused. I know movies and musicals based on novels commonly encounter issues compressing the material into two hours of nonstop entertainment, but this example is such a ridiculous extreme, I wonder if they didn’t purposefully throw out 95% of the book to avoid confusion. I should note that I loved the musical, and I’m guiltily enjoying the novel, but suggesting they describe the same events would likely disrupt the space-time continuum and destroy us all.
The writers for the musical essentially carjacked the idea Elphaba isn’t all that wicked, really and ran with it as if escaping a vicious pack of wild boars armored in razorblades and infected with super rabies. Oh, they assaulted the book long enough to collect a few shattered remnants; a handful of names and places provided convenient yet terrifying drunkenly erected scaffolding to this completely unrelated musical. The situation is akin to insisting Super Mario Brothers chronicles the trials and tribulations of the local Pipe Fitters 597, or tearily explaining Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a harrowing and controversial documentary of amphibious sewer wildlife.
Galinda indeed launches her career at Shiz as a naive and feckless débutante, Elphaba remains green, Boq exhibits slightly diminutive stature, Madame Morrible is undeniably horrible, and Fiero is… oh who am I kidding, nothing else survived. Elphaba’s sister Nessarose has a birth defect ironically unrelated to requiring a wheelchair. Fiero is hardly Dancing Through Life or even a main character while they attend Shiz. Galinda sacrifice her precious social-climbing time helping Elphaba attain popularity? A laugh! Galinda actually tired of her insufferably shallow and fulsome clique, essentially ejecting herself from the popular crowd to belatedly befriend Elphaba.
So far the novel and musical shared at least passing semblance, like a bobblehead could stand in for a groom through a spectacular summer wedding. But as I read, similarities continually decrease and have recently pitched from a cliff so abruptly, I’m sure I’ve exhausted all the source material but for the culminating and inevitable bloody splat. I’m all but certain the novel lacks a happy if bittersweet ending, since Elphaba is currently being painted as a tragic heroine, and we all know how such a character is rewarded for her toil.
It’s all just so odd. I’ve never encountered a novel to musical adaptation so divergent from its source material. I definitely wonder how the author feels about all this.