After a very tasty steak sandwich lunch, a tour of the Georgia Aquarium and dinner at a restaurant in Buckhead called Brio, I settled into my seat at the fabulous Fox Theatre for a sold-out performance of the national tour of Wicked. An hour later, I was on my way home. The slick, lavish production served to remind me that I don’t have a taste for spectacle, that I prefer small shows in small venues, human entertainment on a human scale. Natural spectacles, even unnaturally confined natural spectacles, are a different matter. The beluga whales at the aquarium were lovely to watch, as were the whale sharks and the giant groupers and the jellies.
But Wicked was too much … and too little. I suspect that the packed and highly appreciative house consisted for the most part of folks desensitized by pop culture. I believe we come out of the womb hard-wired to appreciate the art of storytelling, but Hollywood has leveraged our instincts against us, using them to sell us ever more flamboyant products as gateway drugs to ever less meaningful cultural experiences. Wicked was a ravishingly beautiful zombie. It’s soul, like the soul of so much of what passes for entertainment these days, was dead.