"Wicked" the most popular musical on Broadway right now, has amazing music. The music is written by Stephen Schwartz, who has written many other musicals such as: Godspell, Children of Eden, Pippin, and many others.
The first act is about an hour with each song better than the next. The first song, "No One Mourns the Wicked" involves Glinda (the good witch) and the rest of the citizens of Oz. It begins huge with a full orchestra and then varies through out the song, until the main theme comes back at the end. This first song narrates or sets up the entire musical, as Glinda (sung by Christy Candler) tells the story of how the "wicked witch" and her became friends/classmates. The second song "Dear Old Shiz" is some what of an extension of the first song. It is the first song of the story that is being told. All of the munchkins and Glinda begin the story in a classroom at their school, "Shiz".
The third song is one of my favorites of the entire musical, "The Wizard and I". Carole Shelley sings the role of Elphaba (the wicked witch) on the CD that I have. This song changes moods many times through out the piece, with many times of spoken dialogue through out the song. It builds constantly throughout the entire piece, with the textures changing and the tempo increasing. Carole Shelley's belting is amazing on this song as the notes get higher and the music gets more dramatic all of the way untill the end of the song.
The fourth song, another one of my favorites, is "What is this Feeling". This fast tempo song begins with a duet between Elphaba and Glinda singing in great harmonies but with the same phrases together. The second half of the piece has the duet going on but also has the students or munchkins singing another theme in the backround. It is great music with counter melodies going on constantly.
The next song "Something Bad" involves Dr. Dilamond (a goat, but yet a professor at Shiz) explaing to Elphaba that someone or thing is taking the animal's voices away from them. As he tells her this...he begins to loose his english as well and ends the song with a goat noice "baaaahhhh".
The next song, "Dancing Through Life" is basically the rebel Fiyero's entrance song. He is a tenor and has an excellent musical theatre voice - Kristoffer Cusick. Like many other of the songs in this musical it begins with a soloist and then as the song progresses, there are many chorus parts that complete the song. One of the great themes in this piece comes back many times--each timing building more and more musically and emotionally. The theme begins with one soloist singing a single melody line with only a few instruments, but by the end of the song you hear the theme/melody with many harmonies and MANY People singing it with full orchestra.
The next song, "Popular" is actually a common favorite of this musical. Glinda tries to tell Elphaba what to do to become "popular" like her. In the song there is a kind of Recit. at the begining and then when the main theme comes in Glinda tells the story and the orchestra plays block chords through out. The main refrain is simply Glinda shouting, "la la la la were gonna make you pop- u - lar." Giggly Glinda is VERY energetic through-out the entire piece to an almost annoying point.
The Final song of the first act "Defying Gravity" is by far the best song in the entire musical. I personally have seen this production in Chicago and this song is the most amazing experience of Wicked. This is the beginning of Elphaba actually being "Wicked" and is very intense. The beginning of this piece has Elphaba and Glinda argueing about what decision Elphaba should make. Elphaba then describes her plan for what she will do. It has a driving rhythm and amazing Belting melodies. The most amazing 10-20 seconds of this whole musical is the end of this song. Elphaba decides to go on her own, and be her own team. She goes behind the curtain and when the music builds to its climax the curtain moves apart and there....before your eyes Elphaba is FLYING in the dark with all of the ray of colors shinning only on her. This ends with Elphaba telling Glinda and the world that no one will ever bring her down, with very HIGH HIGH belting.