Old Sock Drawer

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#015: Hannah Fury’s Oz cycle

October 7th, 2008 by Mary Leong

Currently listening to: “It Was Her House That Killed Nessarose” – Hannah Fury

Before the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical (and rabid Idina Menzel/Kerry Ellis/Shoshana Bean fangirls), there was the Oz cycle written by Hannah Fury. Written around 1999 – 2000, it remains relatively unknown; I stumbled upon it completely by accident yesterday while digging around last.fm for more quirky music. Based on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the Oz cycle comprises five songs (which you can find on YouTube):
I. Let It Show
II. I Can’t Let You In
III. All Is Not Well
IV. And Your Little Dog Too
V. It Was Her House That Killed Nessarose [right-click, “save file as” to download]

A quick summary: Wicked re-tells the classic tale of The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. This deconstructed political fable is a thought-provoking romp on good, evil and perspective. Class differences are highlighted; prejudice is brought into question. The oppressed animals of Oz are metaphors for the human condition. Elphaba and Glinda illustrate how history is written by the victors. Wicked is smart, biting, and yes, as such tales usually are, frequently quite depressing.

If you’re a die-hard fan of the book (or the musical), you would definitely want to check this out. As much as I absolutely adore the Stephen Schwartz musical adaptation, there’s something else here. Remaining much truer to the book than the musical, the Oz cycle is haunting, delicate and memorable. A little like Elphaba, really, as the sensation of being trapped in a neverending personal struggle is aptly captured. It is chilling, it is heart-wrenching, and it is beautiful. The piano accompaniment of the Oz cycle really does it for me – as much as For Good from the musical reduces me to a wibbling mess.

This is fantastic. I’m going to to read the book again now while listening to this – taking it to new dimensions – so ta for now!

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