A Modern Libertarian Classic


If you live anywhere near a city (especially Chicago) where the musical Wicked is playing, don’t miss it.



Because it’s doubtful you’ll find a work of fiction performed on stage that better illustrates such a spectrum of truths libertarians recognize and hold dear. Honestly, it simply stuns me that such a libertarian-themed performance is so popular in these overwhelmingly statist times.

It was an accident that I discovered this.

Were it not for my middle son participating in a field trip from his college to a Wicked performance in Chicago, I never would have purchased tickets myself. When he phoned afterward, raving about the quality of the performance, my wife and I resolved to get four tickets for our family. We attended a performance in late November with our younger two sons (the middle one went again), believing my oldest son had a scheduling conflict so we never asked if he wanted to go.

Big mistake. But it worked out for the better.

He wanted to go, so I bought another set of tickets (five, this time) so the whole family could go again a couple weeks ago (middle son went a third time!). I can’t honestly say it bothered me to spend the money. The performance is worth it, and then some.

And the libertarian themes?

How about the primacy of the individual? How about the utter corruption of the ruler whose rule is not just a harmless façade, it’s an entire castle of lies?

Yeah, it sure sounds familiar.

I have not read the book on which it’s based, but the musical is a story of scheming government ministers and the ease with which the larger populace can be controlled and made to believe complete absurdities. A parable for today, it shows how easily that same self-righteous citizenry can be motivated to support violence and hatred. In the larger sense, it is a fictional version of Historical Revisionism, where truths are revealed to show that the "official version" of events is in fact an inversion of the truth. It’s like the Oz version of Lincoln’s war.

Have I grabbed your attention?

Oh, and (without dumping any spoilers on you) the script constitutes what I believe is a central component of truly good literature, because not just one but three main characters visibly develop and grow as persons during the all-too-brief performance. There’s animosity, friendship, hatred and love, drama and laughs, all in truckload quantities.

For good measure, the composer threw in a favorite theme of mine, that when evil and good do battle, neither is evil totally vanquished nor does good escape unscathed. This is High Art in my view.

I should also mention that the musical score is extremely pleasing to my ear. I have the CD of the sound track and, while the instrumentalists & vocalists from the Broadway troupe are outstanding and each track a pleasure in its own right, the two female leads in the Chicago cast (the ones we saw perform…twice…Dee Roscioli & Erin Mackey) are actually even stronger vocalists than those on the recording…so powerful that the second act finale at Chicago’s Oriental Theater sends a thunderstorm of chills up and down the spine (there’s a pirated video on the Internet of Ms. Roscioli performing as Elphaba, but it doesn’t remotely do her justice).

(I’d give quite a lot to have a DVD of the current Chicago troupe’s stunning performance…hint, hint, in case this reaches someone in the loop.)

At a time when 40% of what’s on TV is the lying presidential candidates, 30% is fiction lauding tax-paid thugs who beat confessions out of straw-men crooks, 20% is government propaganda dressed up as news, and 10% is comedy so lewd as to make a longshoreman blush, it was indescribably pleasurable to find such artistry, skill, and a wholly positive theme at the theater.

I want to see it again. And again and again.

April 28, 2008

David Calderwood [send him mail] a businessman, artist, and author of the novel Revolutionary Language, selected January 2000 Freedom Book of the Month at

David Calderwood Archives