Category: Halloween


November 2005

15 year old G is taking part in a compilation show with the town’s theatre society. I am compering and introduce two of my friends singing a song from ‘the prequel to the Wizard of Oz.’  It’s the first time I’ve ever heard Defying Gravity and those opening bars certainly grab my attention.

‘I didn’t even know there was a prequel…’, I say to my co-host after the show. One of my friends plays a couple of songs from the soundtrack at the after party and I start to feel nauseated. ‘Oh, no, I don’t like it. They all sound like they’re on helium.’ Poor Kristin Chenoweth.

January 2006

I am obsessed. Caught in a twister of witches, flying monkeys and dramatic riffs. I have my own copy of the soundtrack and it is permanently in my portable CD player. I’m working in the evenings at my Grandad’s shop and, during quiet periods, I sneak into the back room, pinch a can of vimto and listen to more Wicked. The build-up of Defying Gravity sends tingles down my arms and I can’t get my head around how magical it sounds. I am actually in love with a song.

May 2006

I’m getting ready to leave high school and in between revisingImage result for Glinda and Elphaba catfight for exams, my close friends and I are listening to Wicked at whatever chance we can get. In the art room at lunch time. On the steps to the main hall at break. We weren’t very popular (‘-lar’) and at one point a particularly gobby girl accused us of listening to ‘goth music’.  If only she knew. (and if only I took a GSCE in Wicked)

October 2006

Wicked is coming to the UK and after months of failed pestering to family members (I even told my mum I would never expect a birthday present again.  It didn’t go down well), one of my grandparents caves and reveals she has bought tickets for me and my cousin. I have to wait 2 weeks which feels like two years. We travel down to London and I am almost sick with excitement when the cab turns the corner and the Apollo Victoria is revealed, all lit up in green. The show is amazing and, aside from a man who most definitely wasn’t Munchkin-height sitting in front of me, it’s everything I hoped it would be. Plus, I saw Idina Menzel. Bonus awesome points. A week later, I am still so hyped that I write to the cast and they reply with personalised, signed autographs.

October 2009

3 years after my first viewing, I see Wicked again, this time taking my Grandma. When the stage lights up during Dancing Through Life she looks at me with big eyes and says ‘Oh, it’s beautiful.’ Defying Gravity continues to give me chills.

October 2012

I take my mum to see the Wicked tour in Manchester. She is a life-long fan of Oz, and spots Nessarose’s stripey socks before I do. Wicked is the show that keeps on giving – there is always something new to see.

Image result for galinda gifA few weeks later, I go again with my friends from the theatre group. They’re fellow fanatics and some of them are seeing the show for the first time. We rock up wearing witches hats and sing Defying Gravity on the street outside the theatre.

October 2016

So, it’s been ten years since I first saw Wicked live. I don’t know where the time has gone, but Wicked still has the power to make me laugh, cry and send tingles down my arms
. The music is the closest I have ever heard to perfection. It can sound magically whimsical one minute, poignantly moving the next, and end up dark and bleak. It bounces from joyful to devastating in minutes and you’ll never watch that famous melting scene in the same way again. There is always another nugget of awesomeness to spot in the stage show or the soundtrack. (This weekend I noticed the opening bars of No One Mourns the Wicked and As Long As You’re Mine are almost identical! It’s taken me 11 years to spot that.)

I was never really a big fan of The Wizard of Oz but Wicked sparked my interest in a darker, twisted Oz. It was from here that I became familiar with Wicked’s source material, Gregory Maguire’s book, which I have read and written about countless times. I love the way the story links with its predecessor – from subtle nods (‘lemons and Image result for elphaba gifsmelons and pears’ ‘Oh my!’) to more obvious references, like plonking a big old farmhouse in the middle of the stage. It’s a masterclass in storytelling. One of my favourite moments is when Elphaba, wearing her pointed hat from the Ozdust Ballroom, picks up the broom she has used to barricade a door and is shielded from the cold in a black cloak by Glinda. Suddenly, in the middle of the show, everything has come together and Elphaba is the Wicked Witch of the West. My favourite scene though has to be just before ‘No Good Deed’, where Elphaba and Glinda square-off following Nessarose’s death. (‘Well, we can’t all come and go by bubble!’. Bitchy! Elphie is fierce!)

In many aspects Wicked is beautiful but visually it’s stunning. The set design is genius, with everything from the grandeur and greenery of the Emerald City to the shadowy corridors of Kiamo Ko being strikingly atmospheric. Any show that has both its leading ladies flying (via broomstick or bubble) plus a giant mechanical dragon looming over the audience is alright by me.

Wicked is not just a wonderful production, but it’s a reminder of my teenage years. It reminds me of friends near and far, and the many nights of singing around the piano. Every October, as pumpkins are being carved and witches hats appear in shops, I get the urge to belt out those riffs and melodies. It’s become synonymous with autumn.

Ten years, countless drunken renditions of Defying Gravity, dozens of re-reads of the books, thousands of soundtrack-filled car journeys and 4 official viewings and I can’t get enough. Wicked has a reference for every occasion (does anyone else blast No Good Deed when they’re angry?). Defying Gravity has to be one of the most empowering songs ever. It packs enough punch to energise you in a second.

For me, Wicked is definitely a show that will stay with me forever. It’s part of my life and it was most prevalent during the time that shaped who I am today. Ten years ago, I might have been Team Glinda (I was inconsiderate and obsessed with what people thought). In 2016, I like to think I’m Team Elphaba and I have been changed for good.

Image result for defying gravity gif

 

Halloween has been a bit of an event for me this year! A traditional Halloween for Mr H involves sitting in the bath with a glass of wine (normal Saturday so far…) watching Hocus Pocus. This year conjured up lots of talking points and I’m going to attempt to address them in one post…

*deep breath*

Firstly, let’s start with schools. So the last week of term saw me visit two different schools, both facing the same ban. The ban on the H word. Do not say ‘Halloween’. NEVER say ‘Halloween’. I’m not sure what spiritual threat saying the H word will unleash but it seems nowadays the only way for schools to participate in any kind of H-fun is under the disguise of Spooky Day. Halloween is no longer seen as PC as it encourages our youth to celebrate satanic ways and take part in pagan rituals. Apparently.  They can go home and play their brutal games centred on killing and murdering but, for the love of Christ, don’t let them participate in an annual event that has been celebrated for centuries.

Of course, it’s not our teachers that are enforcing this ridiculous rule. These orders come from above. Any Halloween-type event must be cleverly costumed as a ‘spooky activity’. I was privileged to be invited to two Spooky Days and both were brilliant. The children loved dressing up and getting into the spirit of things and not one of them displayed any signs of psychological disturbance. Success!

Next – Tradition. When I was a child, I remember my village being choc-full of Trick or Treaters and the door was constantly being answered. (I also have vivid memories of being forced to dress as a witch…but that’s another tale). This year, the same village was practically deserted. For the second year running we didn’t have one knock on our door! Leaving me with no other option but to eat all of the sweets I’d bought myself, thank you very much! Yes, I know! Dreadful! Where are all the children? What has happened to that excitement of getting dressed up, wandering around the estate, frightening your mates, then collapsing on the living room floor surrounded by your swag and eating until you spew? That’s all part of the magic of Halloween and it hurts me to think that children are missing out on midnight sick sessions…

My favourite tradition is Halloween TV.  I’m not really one for scary films (again…perhaps that’s a therapy session best saved for a future post…) but I do try and test myself at Halloween. This year I have watched two thirds of The Sixth Sense (once the little girl drops into the tent, I am done), episodes of American Horror Story: Hotel (which I love! Sometimes I find it too gory but, we must remember, it has GaGa), and the Eastenders Halloween Special (but you saw that one coming, didn’t you?). My night was topped off with Hocus Pocus. What a film. I’ve no idea why they haven’t made a sequel. Each year I forget how brilliant it is. The three witchy leads give incredible performances and I can quote most of it by heart.

Now then…..finally….I also broke from tradition this year. I went out. That’s right. Out. I am usually a great believer in staying in and I’ve been known to make comments on how awful my town is for a night out so I was a bit apprehensive about taking to the streets dressed as a vampire. However, it was awesome. There was such a great atmosphere and some people had gone to great lengths with their costumes (and some hadn’t). I’d definitely consider a sociable Halloween next year.

So that’s Halloween. Another year of spooky fun over. Now then, are those jingle bells I hear…..?

Bonus:  Here’s my friend Z and I. I’m a vampire, she’s a ‘dirty old dead nun’.

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