A complete guide to all the songs in 'Wicked'
No other musical theatre soundtrack defies gravity quite like Wicked! The West End favourite is constantly connecting with both new audiences and returning fans thanks to its combination of witty songs, heartfelt numbers and awesome power ballads. No wonder they need not one but two Hollywood movies to capture it all.
Wicked is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel (which in turn riffs on L Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), and features a book by Winnie Holzman and score by Stephen Schwartz. The story follows the misunderstood Elphaba, who is judged because of her green skin, and her opposites-attract blonde bestie Glinda — later known as the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch respectively.
But both are far more complicated than those labels suggest, as are the other inhabitants of Oz, in this rich and captivating musical. So, grab your broomstick, look to the western sky, and prepare to fly through Wicked’s indelible songs.
Book Wicked tickets on London Theatre.
“No One Mourns the Wicked”
The show opens at the end of the story: Dorothy Gale has just killed the Wicked Witch of the West, and the mood is jubilant. Glinda makes her unforgettable airborne entrance, and amidst the celebrations by the Ozians, who fully condemn the late Witch, she gives us a quick precis of Elphaba’s family life – information that begins to complicate that “wicked” tag.
“Dear Old Shiz”
The musical’s second number whisks us back to Shiz University, as Glinda admits that she and Elphaba crossed paths there. All of the students sing this proud hymn to their hallowed school – but there’s another contradiction here, as they’re simultaneously recoiling in horror at the sight of new student Elphaba, judging her appearance instead of getting to know her.
“The Wizard and I”
This is the first time we get to hear from Elphaba herself. It’s a hopeful, jaunty tune, in the tradition of the Disney heroine’s “I want” song — the third song in a Disney film — she shares her dream of the great Wizard looking past her green skin to see her talent. However, there’s also huge poignancy. We, the audience, know this dream won’t come true, and that Elphaba’s prophetic vision of Oz celebrating is to do with her death, not her triumphant rise.
“What Is This Feeling?”
We’ve all had that roommate from hell, right? Elphaba and Glinda write home, complaining about one another, in this hilarious number – and it opens the floodgates. The pair wax lyrical about their undiluted loathing for one another (of course, Glinda’s fellow students are on her side). Again there’s irony here: this passion will eventually turn from hate into love as their friendship develops.
Teacher Dr Dillamond, who is a goat, warns Elphaba about the rise of discrimination against animals in Oz. Elphaba longs to tell the Wizard – she clings to her dream that he could fix everything. But this sombre song is our first warning of the darkness beneath the surface.
“Dancing Through Life”
Meet the dashing Fiyero – the love interest in Wicked. He’s introduced via this fun number in which he explains his life philosophy: basically, don’t think, don’t stress, just enjoy it.
Fiyero invites everyone to the Ozdust Ballroom, asking Glinda to save him a dance. She convinces her admirer Boq to pair up with Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose, and also makes Elphaba a figure of fun by lending her an unflattering witch’s hat. But Glinda immediately regrets it and instead asks Elphaba to dance.
The unlikely friendship between Elphaba and Glinda – the bedrock of Wicked – grows further with this hilarious song. Glinda decides to give her new bestie a total makeover, blithely unaware that she’s insulting her in the process. But it also shows Glinda’s sweet side, and demonstrates her canniness. Finally, Elphaba begins to warm to her.
“I’m Not That Girl”
No sooner have the two bonded than it all gets complicated – yes, because of a boy. The show’s love triangle kicks into high gear after Fiyero helps Elphaba free a caged lion cub and the duo share a charged moment. Yet, as she laments while watching him with Glinda, he doesn’t see her the same way: Glinda is the kind of girl who gets the guy.
“One Short Day”
Elphaba and Glinda decide to travel to the Emerald City, trading exclamations about all of its wonders – the tall buildings, the palaces, the museums, the dress shops! (That latter is Glinda, obviously.) But most important of all in this short trip is that they get an audience with none other than the Wizard.
“A Sentimental Man”
Finally, we meet the Wizard! He seems kindly and gentle; not at all intimidating. In fact, he sings this rather nice song about wanting to raise Elphaba up, since he sees all the citizens of Oz as his children. “Everyone deserves a chance to fly” – we might just hear those words again…
The mighty Act I closer is Elphaba's roar of defiance. She’s discovered that the Wizard is a liar and a fraud: he’s behind the suppression of animals, and he’s threatened by Elphaba’s actual magic power. Madame Morrible tells Oz that Elphaba is a “wicked witch”, but our girl has had enough of other people defining her – she’s taking a literal and figurative leap, using a levitation spell on her broomstick and flying away.
There’s a time jump between Acts I and II, so we return to find that lots has changed in Oz. Elphaba is now a public enemy, while her former bestie has been christened “Glinda the Good” – and she’s engaged to Fiyero. In this fraught propaganda song, which is meant to celebrate their engagement, Glinda tries to reassure everyone that it’s all fine, even though she doesn’t believe it herself.
“The Wicked Witch of the East”
In a horrifying turn of events, Nessarose has become a dictator in Munchkinland because she’s so desperate to keep Boq with her. Elphaba enchants Nessa’s ruby slippers to help her walk – however that just gives Boq a reason to finally leave. Nessa tries a spell to make him fall in love with her but accidentally shrinks his heart instead; she brands herself the Wicked Witch of the East.
The Wizard tries to justify his actions to Elphaba, explaining that the Ozians needed someone to believe in and called him “wonderful”. This lively song has a seductive power, which sways Elphaba for a moment. It’s a key dramatic moment before she realises the extent of his wrongdoing – and the Wizard calls in his guards to arrest her.
“I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)”
Now it’s Glinda’s agonising turn to realise that she’s the weak side of this love triangle. Fiyero, instead of staying loyal to her, risks everything to help Elphaba escape. Publicly he said he loved Glinda, but in reality she’s “not that girl”.
“As Long As You’re Mine”
In the midst of all these terrible events, Elphaba and Fiyero snatch one moment to profess their love. This poignant duet is all the more affecting for its brevity: they’ve had so little time together, and we know from the Wizard of Oz tale that more horror is approaching.
“No Good Deed”
Just as we feared, the lovers are torn apart. The guards find them and take Fiyero to a cornfield; Elphaba tries to protect him with a spell, but she can only give him a different cruel fate. In this dark number, she succumbs to bitterness, anger and self-recrimination, wondering if she was actually trying to do good or just get attention. All of her well-meaning actions, it seems, have led to tragedy – is she actually wicked?
“March of the Witch Hunters”
Elphaba realises, too late, that Madame Morrible is to blame for much of what has happened, including Nessa’s death. But there’s nothing she can do: the Ozians now think she’s a wicked witch and they’re hunting her down, led by Boq – now transformed into the Tin Man.
Elphaba and Glinda confront one another; Glinda begs Elphaba to release Dorothy, who she’s holding captive until she can get Nessa’s ruby slippers back and also reassurances about Fiyero’s safety. But Elphaba eventually realises she has to surrender, and the two women finally voice their resentments over the past, forgive one another, and give heartfelt thanks for the friendship that changed them both for good. No matter what happens, they’ll always be part of each other.
Twist! It’s the end of the story, but not as you know it. Glinda throws the Wizard out of Oz and arrests Madame Morrible. Then it’s revealed that Elphaba faked her death: she and Fiyero run away together, while the Ozians cheer Elphaba’s apparent demise, as they did at the start of the show (with a repeat of “Nobody mourns the wicked”), and Glinda privately mourns. But we now have a completely different view of this scene – just as Wicked cleverly gives us a fresh take on a familiar tale.
See more shows in the West End
Photo credit: Wicked (Photos courtesy of production)
Originally published on