Friday, May 6, 2011

Teaching Girls to Tame Their Wicked Ways

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2011 at 3:45 PM

The lights dimmed and the giant winged dragon at the top of the stage beckoned the audience to sit up and pay attention. His red eyes glowed through the billow of smoke emanating from his iron snout. It was only seconds into Wicked, and my 9-year-old daughter was completely enthralled.

The show last night was her first Broadway play (although we saw it here in Boise), and the story portrayed in the musical version of Wicked couldn’t have been more appropriate or timely for a girl her age in the throes of figuring out the friendship/popularity thing.

Strangely, Elphaba—a.k.a. The Wicked Witch of the West—turns out to be a great role model for girls who happen to march to the beat of their own drums. Through the first act, I kept thinking about how proud I am of my own daughter for sticking up for what she believes in, and thanking my lucky stars that she didn’t identify much with the air-headed Glinda. Maddie thought the “deeply shallow” good witch was hilarious—as did everybody else in the audience—but at one point, she turned to me and said, “Glinda’s not too smart, is she, Mom?”

However, Glinda later proves that what she seems to lack in intelligence (though I suspect it’s merely overshadowed by her hair tossing and frou-frou sparkly dresses) she makes up for in heart. Together, the two girls, who couldn’t be more different on the outside, show us just how similar we all are on the inside.

And that’s something that parents can talk about until we are blue in the face, especially when our kids come home in tears because of mean words uttered on the playground. But put that lesson to music, with bright lights and lovable, believable characters, and that oft-repeated discussion all of a sudden means a little more.

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