GOOD NEWS! Good news...
Who can say if it's been changed for the better? Wicked has been adapted successfully once, and now, with the announcement of an official film adaptation, many fans are over-joyed to finally see the masterful production on the silver screen. However, this can really go either way. One must wonder, will it be changed for the better?
ATTENTION: SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned!
"Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz" is an adaptation of the first of three books of "The Wicked Years" series, titled "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". For the most part, the musical follows the play to the word, only changing a few details and cutting certain scenes, due to time constraints and content deemed either too difficult to produce on stage, or too harsh for the musical's intended audience, generally families with munchkins of their own. The ending is also altered. In the novel, Elphaba is presumed dead, though the last lines suggest that she may return one day. However, in the musical, we see that she and Fiyero had made a plan so that she would fake her death, and then both she and Fiyero could run away together and live happily ever after. It's a more happy ending than the book, which is appropriate, as many Broadway-musical-goers are looking for that now-a-days. Now, the question is, can Wicked survive being adapted again, only this time into a film?
If we look back at Les Misérables, it has been adapted for film multiple times, with the most popular version now being the 2012 film. What made this unique, not only as a hit adaptation of the musical, but also as a revolutionary film for musical films, is that all of the singing was done "live", where the actors sung their parts when filming, rather than sing in a recording booth and lip-sync when filming. While the latter provides a crisper and cleaner version, performing "live" allows the actors to really control the scene and convey more emotion, as if it really were a stage production. This makes one wonder- will Wicked do as most stage-to-film adaptations of musicals do and have the actors sing and act "separately", or will Wicked take a leap and do what Les Mis did, and have the actors sing and act at the same time, as if doing a live performance? It's a difficult decision to make, as the cast would need to have at least decent voices, and the acting would have to make up for any lack-luster vocals. However, pulling the "do it live" card will also pull more attention to it, as seeing someone act and sing at the same time, rather than act and lip-sync, makes the performance more real and less "robotic". This is not saying that lip-syncing to a song whilst performing is not real, but singing "live" does help in conveying a more "free" performance.
Another concern is the physical transfer from stage to screen. The musical is filled with vibrant sets, many fascinating scene-transitions, and the usage of certain stage mechanisms proves to still be beautifully executed. On stage, the audience can look around the entire stage, focusing on numerous details. Instead of focusing on one element of the show, one can focus on a different element, such as a particular member of the ensemble. It makes the world come alive, to see a the ensemble acting as if they are just going about their daily lives, and not like they are in a show. Sure, the main actor may be singing a number about an inner-monologue, but that should be no reason for the ensemble to just stop and watch, as if their character would stare at a random person, who in turn is really just sitting or standing, and staring off into space, thinking. However, in film, the audience only sees what the camera sees. This limits what the audience can look at and focus on, as if forcing the view on just the primary element of a scene. While this can help to convey some scenes better, it also tends to make the world of the film seem a bit smaller and limited. Adapting to film will most definitely remove some of the magic presented by the background elements one might only find in a stage production.
There are many other reasons why Wicked can be a huge hit or a huge flop. However, maybe it is best to just wait and see. Support the cast and crew, and hope for the best. If all goes well, Wicked will truly leap from the stage, and we can tell everyone how it defied gravity!