Wicked (musical)

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For the Broadway cast recording of this musical, see Wicked (musical album).
Wicked
The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz
Wicked-poster.jpg
Official poster of the original Broadway production
Music Stephen Schwartz
Lyrics Stephen Schwartz
Book Winnie Holzman
Basis Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Premiere October 30, 2003 – Gershwin Theatre, New York City
Productions 2003 San Francisco try-out
2003 Broadway
2005 First US Tour
2006 West End
2009 Second US Tour
2013 UK & Ireland Tour
Various international productions (see below)
Awards Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Musical

Wicked (full title: Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz) is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel novel of the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum's classic 1900 story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy's arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the 1939 film and Baum's novel. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (the Good Witch of the North), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's public fall from grace.

Produced by Universal Studios in coalition with Marc Platt and David Stone, the Joe Mantello–directed and Wayne Cilento–choreographed original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, after completing pre-Broadway tryouts at San Francisco's Curran Theatre in May 2003. Its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard.[1] The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards and six Drama Desk Awards while its cast album received a Grammy Award. It celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway on October 30, 2013, and played for over 4,496 performances,[1] making Wicked the 11th longest-running Broadway show in history.[2] A typical performance runs for approximately two hours and 30 minutes, plus a 15 minute intermission.[3]

The success of the Broadway production has spawned several other productions worldwide, including various North American productions, a long-running Laurence Olivier Award–nominated West End production and a series of international productions. Since its 2003 debut, Wicked has broken box office records around the world, currently holding weekly-gross-takings records in Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London. In the week ending January 2, 2011, the London, Broadway, and both North American touring productions simultaneously broke their respective records for the highest weekly gross.[4][5] In the final week of 2013, the Broadway production broke this record again, earning $3.2 million.[6] The West End production and the North American tour have each been seen by over two million patrons.

Inception and development[edit]

Wicked composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz

Composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz discovered writer Gregory Maguire's 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West while on vacation and saw its potential for a dramatic adaptation.[7] Maguire, however, had released the rights to Universal, who had planned to develop a live-action feature film.[8] Schwartz met Maguire in Connecticut in 1998 and persuaded him to release them for a stage production[9] while making what Schwartz called an "impassioned plea" to Universal producer Marc Platt to realize his potential adaptation. Persuaded too, Platt signed on as joint producer of the project with Universal and David Stone.[8]

The novel, described as a political, social, and ethical commentary on the nature of good and evil, takes place in the Land of Oz, in the years leading to Dorothy's arrival. The story centers on Elphaba, the misunderstood, smart, and fiery girl of emerald-green skin who grows up to become the notorious Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the beautiful, blonde, popular girl who grows up to become Glinda the Good Witch of the North. The story is divided into five different sections based on the plot location and presents events, characters and situations from L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) and its 1939 film adaptation in new ways. It is designed to set the reader thinking about what it really is to be 'Wicked', and whether good intentions with bad results are the same as bad intentions with bad results. Schwartz considered how best to condense the novel's dense and complicated plot into a sensible script.[9] To this end, he collaborated with Emmy Award–winning writer Winnie Holzman to develop the outline of the plot over the course of a year[10] while meeting with producer Marc Platt to refine the structural outline of the show, spinning an original stage piece rather than creating a strict adaptation of Maguire's work.[9]

While the draft followed Maguire's idea of retelling the story of the 1939 film from the perspective of its main villain, the story line of the stage adaptation "goes far afield" from the novel. As Holzman observed in an interview with Playbill, "It was [Maguire's] brilliant idea to take this hated figure and tell things from her point of view, and to have the two witches be roommates in college, but the way in which their friendship develops – and really the whole plot – is different onstage."[11] Schwartz justified the deviation, saying "Primarily we were interested in the relationship between Galinda – who becomes Glinda – and Elphaba...the friendship of these two women and how their characters lead them to completely different destinies."[12] In addition to this change in focus, other major plot modifications include Fiyero's appearance as the scarecrow, Elphaba's survival at the end, Nessarose using a wheelchair instead of being born without arms, Boq having a continuing love interest for Glinda - and eventually becoming the Tin Woodman instead of Nick Chopper, the complete cutting of Elphaba's years in the Vinkus, and Doctor Dillamond not being murdered.[13]

The book, lyrics, and score for the musical were developed through a series of readings.[9] For these developmental workshops, Kristin Chenoweth, the Tony Award–winning actress whom Stephen Schwartz had in mind while composing the music for the character,[14] joined the project as Glinda. Stephanie J. Block originally read the role of Elphaba before fellow performer Idina Menzel was cast in the role in late 2000. In early 2000, the creators recruited New York producer David Stone who began the transition of the workshop production into a full Broadway production. Joe Mantello was brought in as director and Wayne Cilento as choreographer while Tony Award–winning designer Eugene Lee created the set and visual style for the production based on both W. W. Denslow's original illustrations for Baum's novels and Maguire's concept of the story being told through a giant clock.[14] Costume designer Susan Hilferty created a "twisted Edwardian" style through more than 200 costumes, while lighting designer Kenneth Posner used more than 800 individual lights to give each of the 54 distinct scenes and locations "its own mood".[14] By April 2003, a full cast had been assembled and the show readied its public debut.[14]

The Curran Theatre in San Francisco, where Wicked made its public debut

On May 28, 2003, the first public performance of Wicked was held at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, as the start of SHN pre-Broadway tryouts. After officially opening on June 10, 2003, it ran there for the month and finished on June 29, 2003. Audience reaction was mostly positive and although critics tended to compliment the aesthetic and spectacle of the show, they disparaged the state of its book, score and choreography.[15] Dennis Harvey of Variety commented positively of the "sleekly directed", "snazzily designed" and "smartly cast" production yet still disapproved of its "mediocre" book, "trite" lyrics and "largely generic" music[16] while Karen D'Souza of the San Jose Mercury News wrote that "Style over substance is the real theme in this Emerald City."[15] Noting mixed response, the creative team started making extensive changes, tweaking it before its transfer to Broadway.[14] Winnie Holzman stated, "Stephen [Schwartz] wisely had insisted on having three months to rewrite in-between the time we closed in San Francisco and when we were to go back into rehearsals in New York. That was crucial; that was the thing that made the biggest difference in the life of the show. That time is what made the show work."[17]

Elements of the book were rewritten while several songs underwent minor transformations.[14] This included the excision of "Which Way is the Party?", the introductory song to the character Fiyero, which was subsequently replaced by "Dancing Through Life" in Schwartz's fear that the former failed to be a clear "statement of Fiyero's philosophy of life".[18] In addition, there was concern that Menzel's Elphaba "got a little overshadowed" by Chenoweth's Glinda.[19] San Francisco Chronicle critic Robert Hurwitt wrote, "Menzel's brightly intense Elphaba the Wicked Witch [needs] a chance of holding her own alongside Chenoweth's gloriously, insidiously bubbly Glinda",[20] so the creative team set about making her character "more prominent".[19] On the subject of the Broadway revisions, Schwartz recalled, "It was clear there was work to be done and revisions to be made in the book and the score. The critical community was, frankly, very helpful to us. We learned a lot from the reviews, which were honest and constructive in the aggregate, unlike New York, where the critics make up their minds before they come to the theatre."[19] On October 30, 2003, the musical opened on Broadway.[14]

Plot[edit]

Act I[edit]

The citizens of Oz celebrate the death of the Wicked Witch of the West as Glinda arrives. She recalls that the green-skinned Elphaba, the "Wicked" Witch, was conceived during an affair between the Munchkin Governor's wife and a mysterious stranger with a bottle of green elixir. Everyone was repulsed by Elphaba, and so Glinda asks the Ozians to empathize ("No One Mourns the Wicked") with her side of the story. The remainder of the plot forms an extended flashback of the lives of Glinda and Elphaba.

The pair meet at Shiz University ("Dear Old Shiz"). Elphaba is reviled by all the students, including the popular but shallow Galinda. Elphaba was sent to Shiz to take care of her wheelchair-bound younger sister Nessarose. Despite Elphaba and Galinda's instant loathing, Madame Morrible, Shiz's headmistress, makes them roommates. Elphaba displays an innate magical talent, and Morrible notes that her talents may be of use to the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba dreams of what she and the Wizard could accomplish together ("The Wizard and I"). Galinda and Elphaba later write home about their unfortunate room-mate assignments ("What is this Feeling?"). Doctor Dillamond, Shiz's only Animal professor, confides in Elphaba that something is causing the Animals of Oz to lose their powers of speech ("Something Bad").

A friendship develops between Galinda and Elphaba

Fiyero, a Winkie prince, then arrives at Shiz and impresses his carefree living on the students ("Dancing Through Life"). Besotted with Galinda, a Munchkin named Boq asks her to accompany him to a party, but having fallen for Fiyero, Galinda asks him to invite Nessarose instead. Nessarose, not realizing Galinda's real motives, is delighted, and tells Elphaba what happened. Galinda discovers a black pointed hat and gives it to Elphaba as a mock present. Elphaba, remembering how happy Galinda had made Nessarose (and not knowing she had ulterior motives), asks Madame Morrible to reconsider Galinda's previous exclusion from her Sorcery Seminar. When Elphaba arrives at the party wearing the hat, she is ridiculed. Feeling guilty, Galinda dances with her, marking the start of their friendship.

Elphaba's father hates her, Elphaba reveals, because her pregnant mother ate milk-flowers to prevent her second child from being born green-skinned. The milk-flowers instead caused Nessarose to be born prematurely, leaving her with a disability while her mother died in childbirth. A sympathetic Galinda gives Elphaba a personality makeover ("Popular").

The next day, Doctor Dillamond is arrested. His replacement arrives with a lion cub as the subject of an experiment, kept in a cage that causes Animals in it to lose their power of speech. Outraged, Elphaba and Fiyero set the cub free. Elphaba begins to discover romantic feelings towards Fiyero, but says that she "wasn't born" to be loved ("I'm Not that Girl"). Madame Morrible finds her, announcing that Elphaba has been granted an audience with the Wizard in the Emerald City.

Galinda, Fiyero, Nessarose and Boq see Elphaba off, all happy for her accomplishment. In an attempt to impress Fiyero, Galinda announces she will change her name to "Glinda" in honor of Doctor Dillamond, who had mispronounced her name that way. Fiyero fails to notice and leaves. Feeling bad for Glinda, Elphaba invites her along to see the Wizard.

After a day of bonding and sightseeing in the Emerald City ("One Short Day"), Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard. Eschewing the special effects he employs for the benefit of most visitors, he invites Elphaba to join him ("A Sentimental Man"). The Wizard asks Elphaba to perform a levitation spell on his monkey servant, Chistery, using the Grimmerie, an ancient book of spells. Elphaba demonstrates an intrinsic understanding of the lost language in the book, and gives Chistery wings. When Elphaba sees he seems to be in pain and demands they show her how to reverse the spell, Morrible tells her that spells are irreversible. The Wizard then reveals a cage full of winged monkeys, proving the extent of Elphaba's powers. He says they will make perfect spies. Elphaba now realizes he was the one who robbed the animals of their speech and created the cages. The Wizard wants Elphaba to join him in "creating a really good enemy" for the Ozians, using her powers.

The bridge section of "Defying Gravity", the Act I finale

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Elphaba takes the Grimmerie and runs away with Glinda. Realizing that she knows too much about his plans, the Wizard sends Morrible and his guards after Elphaba and Glinda. They hear Morrible warning all of Oz of this "Wicked Witch" and her horrible deed to the innocent monkeys. Elphaba and Glinda now must choose which path their lives will take. Ultimately, Glinda chooses to take a life living with the Wizard and becoming a public figure within Oz. Elphaba, however, decides to use her newly learned powers to stand against the Wizard and do what she believes is right. Elphaba accepts her friend's choice and they wish each other the best. Elphaba uses the Grimmerie to place a levitation spell on a broom and flies away from the palace guards when they break into the attic she and Glinda had barricaded themselves in ("Defying Gravity"). This public act of defiance convinces the Ozians that she is truly wicked.

Act II[edit]

Julia Murney as Elphaba in the national tour of Wicked, 2006.

A few months later Elphaba's opposition of the Wizard's regime has earned her the title "The Wicked Witch of the West" (reprise of "No One Mourns the Wicked"). Informing him that Elphaba does not want to be found, Glinda puts on a happy front despite Fiyero's waning affections ("Thank Goodness").

Meanwhile, Elphaba arrives at her old home, the Governor's residence in Munchkinland, seeking refuge. Nessarose, now the Governor, criticizes Elphaba for not using her powers to help her. Guilty, Elphaba enchants Nessarose's shoes, turning them into the ruby slippers and enabling her to walk. Boq bemoans that Nessarose is as "wicked" as Elphaba for stripping the Munchkins of their rights and prohibiting them from leaving Munchkinland. Nessarose explains that she did this to keep Boq with her, but is sure that he will stay with her of his own accord now that she no longer has a disability. However, Boq insists that he should now be free to pursue Glinda instead. Hurt and angry, Nessarose attempts to cast a spell from the Grimmerie to make Boq fall in love with her. However, the spell backfires, causing Boq to literally lose his heart. While Elphaba attempts to save him, Nessarose reflects on how being "alone and loveless" has led to her wicked actions, and fears that she deserves her new title ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). Elphaba says that nothing will ever be enough for her sister and leaves her for good, despite Nessarose's frantic pleas for her to stay. When Boq wakes up, he is horrified to discover that Elphaba has transformed him into a Tin Man, so he could live without a heart, and Nessarose lays the entire blame on her sister while Boq runs away in horror.

The introduction and first two lines of "As Long as You're Mine"

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Returning to the Wizard's palace, Elphaba tries to free the remaining winged monkeys. The Wizard attempts to regain her favor by agreeing to set them free, recounting how the Ozians hailed him as the Wonderful Wizard when he first came to Oz. He says that she could be hailed by everyone if she joins him ("Wonderful"). Elphaba rejects his offer upon discovering the now-speechless Doctor Dillamond amongst the monkeys. While attempting to escape, she bumps into Fiyero, who runs away with her, confirming that he loves her in return. Glinda sees this and is crestfallen that she has been betrayed by those closest to her (reprise of "I'm Not that Girl"). When Glinda states that Elphaba can be lured by spreading a rumor that Nessarose is in danger, Madame Morrible creates a cyclone that brings Dorothy's house to Oz and crushes Nessarose to death. During this, Fiyero and Elphaba express their love ("As Long as You're Mine"), but Elphaba senses that her sister is in danger. Before she rushes to help, Fiyero explains to Elphaba that his family has an empty castle far away. He promises her she can hide there and that he will go to join her. She flies to Nessarose, but is too late. Dorothy has since taken the slippers and is walking to Oz with her dog Toto. The palace guards capture Elphaba, but Fiyero intervenes, allowing Elphaba to escape before surrendering himself and taken away to a cornfield to be tortured unless he tells them where Elphaba is. At the castle, Elphaba tries to cast any spell she can to prevent Fiyero the pains of torture, transforming him into the Scarecrow from afar, but suspecting that she has failed, begins to accept her reputation as "wicked" ("No Good Deed").

Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, Boq – now the Tin Man – and the Cowardly Lion, who is revealed to be the lion cub Elphaba set free, are sent to kill Elphaba and bring her broomstick to the Wizard ("March of the Witch Hunters"). Elphaba captures Dorothy, refusing to release her until she relinquishes Nessarose's ruby slippers – the only things left of her dead sister. Glinda travels to Elphaba's castle to warn her of the trouble and persuade her to let Dorothy go. Although Elphaba refuses, the two women forgive each other for all grievances, acknowledging they have both made mistakes. To help her in her future, Elphaba gives the Grimmerie to Glinda. The two friends embrace for the last time before saying goodbye forever, and acknowledge that they are who they are because they knew each other ("For Good"). Immediately afterward, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on Elphaba, who appears to melt away. Grief-stricken, Glinda sees that all that remains of her friend is her black hat and a vial of green elixir. Back at the Emerald City, Glinda reminds the Wizard that he has an identical bottle, and it is revealed that the Wizard is Elphaba's biological father, being the stranger with whom her mother had an affair. Madame Morrible surmises that Elphaba had special powers because she was a child of both Oz and the outside world. Glinda orders the Wizard to leave Oz and sends Madame Morrible to prison before returning to the opening scene of the show. ("Finale").

Current Casts[edit]

Character Broadway 1st US Tour 2nd US Tour London UK Tour Australasian Tour Japan Mexico Korea[21]
Elphaba Christine Dwyer Emma Hunton Laurel Harris Kerry Ellis Nikki Davis-Jones Jemma Rix Higuchi Asami Danna Paola /
Ana Cecilia Anzaldúa
Kim Sun Young /
Park Hye Na
Glinda Jenni Barber Chandra Lee Schwartz Kara Lindsay Savannah Stevenson Emily Tierney Lucy Durack Tanihara Shion Cecilia de la Cueva /
Majo Pérez
Kim So Hyun /
Kim Bo Kyung
Fiyero Justin Guarini Nick Adams Matt Shingledecker Jeremy Taylor Liam Doyle Steve Danielsen Iimura Kazuya Jorge Lau Lee Jee Hoon /
Jo Sang Woong
Madame Morrible Mary Testa Alison Fraser Kathy Fitzgerald Sue Kelvin Marilyn Cutts Anne Wood Yaezawa Mami Anahí Allué Kim Young Ju
The Wizard Tom McGowan Tim Kazurinsky Gene Weygandt Martyn Ellis Dale Rapley Reg Livermore Teshigawara Takeshi Paco Morales Nam Kyoung Joo /
Lee Sang Jun
Nessarose Kelli Barrett Jenny Florkowski Catherine Charlebois Katie Rowley Jones Carina Gillespie Emily Cascarino Hoshiro Sayaka Marisol Meneses Lee Yea Eun
Boq Michael Wartella Etai BenShlomo Lee Slobotkin Sam Lupton George Ure Edward Grey Yamamoto Wataru Adam Sadwing Kim Dong Hyun
Doctor Dillamond K. Todd Freeman Tom Flynn Michael DeVries Paul Clarkson Dale Rapley Nathan Carter Saito Yuzuru Beto Torres Cho Jung Keun

Musical numbers[edit]

Tryout[edit]

Broadway[edit]

≠ Not included on the original Broadway cast recording.

Music and recordings[edit]

Music analysis[edit]

The first 15 bars of the overture; note the identical chord progression to "As Long as You're Mine"

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The score of Wicked is heavily thematic, bearing in some senses more resemblance to a film score than a traditional musical score.[22] While many musical scores employ new motifs and melodies for each song with little overlap, Schwartz integrated a handful of leitmotifs throughout the production. Some of these motifs indicate irony – for example, when Galinda presents Elphaba with a "ghastly" hat in "Dancing through Life", the score reprises a theme from "What is this Feeling?" a few scenes earlier,[22] in which Elphaba and Glinda had espoused their mutual loathing.

Two musical themes in Wicked run throughout the score. Although Schwartz rarely reuses motifs or melodies from earlier works,[22] the first – Elphaba's theme – came from The Survival of St. Joan, on which he worked as musical director.[22] "I always liked this tune a lot and I never could figure out what to do with it," he remarked in an interview in 2004.[22] The chord progression that he first penned in 1971 became a major theme of the show's orchestration. By changing the instruments that carry the motif in each instance, Schwartz enables the same melody to convey different moods. In the overture, the tune is carried by the orchestra's brass section, with heavy percussion. The result is, in Schwartz' own words, "like a giant shadow terrorizing you".[22] When played by the piano with some electric bass in "As Long As You're Mine", however, the same chord progression becomes the basis for a romantic duet. And with new lyrics and an altered bridge, the theme forms the core of the song "No One Mourns the Wicked" and its reprises.[22]

Schwartz uses the "Unlimited" theme as the second major motif running through the score. Although not included as a titled song, the theme appears as an interlude in several of the musical numbers. In a tribute to Harold Arlen, who wrote the score for the 1939 film adaptation, the "Unlimited" melody incorporates the first seven notes of the song "Over the Rainbow." Schwartz included it as an inside joke as, "according to copyright law, when you get to the eighth note, then people can come and say, 'Oh you stole our tune.' And of course obviously it's also disguised in that it's completely different rhythmically. And it's also harmonized completely differently.... It's over a different chord and so on, but still it's the first seven notes of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'".[22] Schwartz further obscured the motif's origin by setting it in a minor key in most instances. This also creates contrast in the songs in which it forms a part, for example in "Defying Gravity", which is written primarily in the key of D-flat major.[23] In the song "The Wicked Witch of the East", however, when Elphaba finally uses her powers to let her sister walk, the "Unlimited" theme is played in a major key.[22]

Recordings[edit]

A cast recording of the original Broadway production was released on December 16, 2003, by Universal Music. All of the songs featured on stage are present on the recording with the exception of "The Wizard and I (Reprise)" and "The Wicked Witch of the East". The short reprise of "No One Mourns the Wicked" that opens Act II is attached to the beginning of "Thank Goodness".[24] The music was arranged by Stephen Oremus, who was also the conductor and musical director, and James Lynn Abbott, with orchestrations by William David Brohn.[24] The recording received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2005[25] and was certified platinum by the RIAA on November 30, 2006.[26] The album was certified double platinum on November 8, 2010.[27] A fifth-anniversary special edition of the original Broadway cast recording was released on October 28, 2008, with a bonus CD including tracks from the Japanese and German cast recordings, "Making Good" – a song later replaced by "The Wizard and I" – sung by Stephanie J. Block with Schwartz at the piano, "I'm Not that Girl" by Kerry Ellis (featuring Brian May on guitar), Menzel's dance mix of "Defying Gravity", and "For Good" sung by LeAnn Rimes and Delta Goodrem.[28]

A German recording of the Stuttgart production was released on December 7, 2007, featuring a track listing and arrangements identical to those of the Broadway recording.[29] The Japanese cast recording was released on July 23, 2008, featuring the original Tokyo cast. It is notable for being the only Cast Album of the show that includes Glinda's Finale dialogue.[30]

Orchestration[edit]

A comparison between the original and reduced (written for the 2005 national tour) orchestrations[31][32]
Original Reduced
  • 2 Horns
  • 2 Trumpets (and Flügel)
  • 2 Trombones (1 Bass)
  • 1 Horn
  • 2 Trumpets (and Flügel)
  • 1 Trombone
  • Drums
  • Percussion
  • Drums
  • Percussion
  • Guitar 1 (electric, acoustic, classical, banjo, mandolin, E-bow)
  • Guitar 2 (electric, acoustic, classical, banjo, 12-string, E-bow)
  • Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass (Bass doubling electric and fretless)
  • Harp
  • Guitar (electric, acoustic, classical, E-bow, banjo, 12-string, mandolin)
  • Violin, Cello, Bass (Bass doubling electric)
  • Piano
  • 2 Keyboards
  • 4 Keyboards

Productions[edit]

Production Venue/Location Opening Night Closing Night Notes
United States San Francisco Curran Theatre June 10, 2003 June 29, 2003 Pre-Broadway try-out; Transferred to Broadway
United States Broadway George Gershwin Theatre October 30, 2003 Currently running Original cast recording released
United States 1st North American National Tour Various March 31, 2005 Currently running(Closing February 1st, 2015) First location: Toronto, Canada. Opening night delayed due to the injury of Stephanie J. Block; one of the longest-running Broadway musical tours in the US
United States Chicago Ford Center-Oriental Theatre July 13, 2005 January 25, 2009 Transferred to 2nd North American National Tour
United Kingdom West End Apollo Victoria Theatre September 27, 2006 Currently running First official production outside the US
United States Los Angeles Pantages Theatre February 21, 2007 January 11, 2009 Transferred to San Francisco
Japan Tokyo The Dentsu-Shiki Theatre June 17, 2007 September 6, 2009 First Japanese-language replica production (cast recording released); Transferred to Osaka
Germany Stuttgart Palladium Theater November 15, 2007 January 29, 2010 First German-language production (cast recording released); Transferred to Oberhausen
Australia Melbourne Regent Theatre July 12, 2008 August 9, 2009 First Australian production; Transferred to Sydney
United States San Francisco Orpheum Theatre February 6, 2009 September 5, 2010
United States 2nd North American National Tour Various March 12, 2009 Currently running First location: Fort Myers, Florida. Running concurrently with the 1st National Tour
Australia Sydney Capitol Theatre September 12, 2009 September 26, 2010 Transferred to Australian National Tour
Japan Osaka Osaka Shiki Theatre October 11, 2009 February 13, 2011 Transferred to Fukuoka
Germany Oberhausen Metronom Theater March 8, 2010 September 2, 2011
Denmark Copenhagen Det Ny Teater January 12, 2011 May 29, 2011 Non-replicated production
Australia Australian National Tour QPAC, Brisbane
Festival Centre, Adelaide
Burswood Theatre, Perth
January 25, 2011 September 11, 2011 Opening night delayed due to the Queensland floods; Transferred to Asian National Tour
Japan Fukuoka Canal City Theatre April 3, 2011 August 28, 2011 Transferred to Nagoya
Japan Nagoya Shin Nagoya Musical Theater September 25, 2011 September 2, 2012
Australia Asian National Tour Singapore Grand Theater, Singapore/
South Korea Bluesquare Samsung Electronics Hall, Seoul, Korea
December 9, 2011 October 7, 2012 English-language production; Transferred to Australasian National Tour
Netherlands Scheveningen AFAS Circus Theater November 6, 2011 January 11, 2013 First Dutch-language production
Japan Tokyo The Dentsu-Shiki Theatre August 3, 2013 Currently running First revival production
United Kingdom UK/IRE National Tour Various September 17, 2013 Currently running First location: Manchester, England.
Australia Australasian National Tour New Zealand The Civic, Auckland, New Zealand[33]
Philippines CCP Main Theater, Manila, Philippines[34]
Australia Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane; Australia
September 21, 2013 Currently running First location: Auckland, New Zealand.
Mexico Mexico City Teatro Telcel October 17, 2013 Currently running First Spanish-language replica production
South Korea Seoul Charlotte Theater November 22, 2013 Currently running First Korean-language replica production

Original Broadway production[edit]

The original Broadway production has been at the Gershwin Theatre since its opening in 2003

Wicked officially opened on June 10, 2003 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, after previews began on May 28, in a pre-Broadway tryout presented by SHN.[35] The cast included Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Joel Grey as the Wizard, Norbert Leo Butz as Fiyero, Michelle Federer as Nessarose, Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, John Horton as Doctor Dillamond, and Kirk McDonald as Boq[14] while Stephanie J. Block, who originally read the role of Elphaba in workshop development, served as an ensemble member and understudied the lead role.[36] The tryout closed on June 29, 2003, and after extensive retooling,[14] the musical began previews on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre on October 8, 2003, and made its official premiere on October 30. Most of the original production team and cast members remained with the show, with the exception of some minor ensemble changes and the replacement of Robert Morse with Joel Grey as the Wizard, John Horton with William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond and Kirk McDonald with Christopher Fitzgerald as Boq[37] while Eden Espinosa and Laura Bell Bundy were added as standbys for Elphaba and Glinda respectively.

When Saycon Sengbloh became the standby for Elphaba in January 2005, she became the first African-American woman to play the role of Elphaba. Since then, five other black women have either played or covered the role (Brandi Chavonne Massey, Dan'yelle Williamson, Alexia Khadime, Lilli Cooper and Emmy Raver-Lampman) with Khadime being the first, and so far only, to play Elphaba full-time.

Willemijn Verkaik, who created the role of Elphaba for German and Dutch audiences, joined the Broadway production for a limited time from February–May 2013, becoming the first actress to have appeared in three different language productions.[38] She then transferred to the London West End company of Wicked where she starred for eight months.

Other North American productions[edit]

In 2005, the first national tour of Wicked (called the "Emerald City Tour" by the producers)[39] started in Toronto, Ontario, and has since visited numerous cities throughout the United States and Canada.[14] Stephanie J. Block was set to open the tour as Elphaba with previews beginning March 8, but after having sustained a minor injury in rehearsal, Kristy Cates temporarily took her place. Previews were therefore postponed until the following day. After some delay, Block made her debut on March 25, and the tour officially opened on March 31. The original touring cast also included Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda, Derrick Williams as Fiyero, Jenna Leigh Green as Nessarose, Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, Timothy Britten Parker as Doctor Dillamond, Logan Lipton as Boq, and David Garrison as the Wizard.

Wicked ran at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco for almost 2 years

While the original touring cast intended to play a limited engagement from April 29 to June 12, 2005 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago, producers decided to extend it to an open-ended run, making it the first non-Broadway sit-down production of Wicked.[40] Opening at the same Chicago theatre the day after the touring production had finished, the original Chicago cast included Ana Gasteyer as Elphaba, Kate Reinders as Glinda, Rondi Reed as Madame Morrible, Kristoffer Cusick as Fiyero, Telly Leung as Boq, Heidi Kettenring as Nessarose and Gene Weygandt as the Wizard.[41] The production closed on January 25, 2009, after over 1,500 performances.[42] The touring production returned to Chicago for a special engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from December 1, 2010 to January 23, 2011.[43][44] In celebration of the musical's 10th anniversary, the tour played an eight week return engagement at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre from October 30 through December 21, 2013.[45] Former West End cast member Gina Beck joined the company on December 16, re-creating her role of Glinda, and making her the first international actress to play the role on both sides of the Atlantic.

An open-ended production also appeared in Los Angeles, California at the Pantages Theatre. Performances began on February 10, 2007, with an official opening on February 21. Megan Hilty and original Broadway standby Eden Espinosa were Glinda and Elphaba respectively[46] while Carol Kane was Madame Morrible, Timothy Britten Parker was Doctor Dillamond, Jenna Leigh Green was Nessarose, Adam Wylie was Boq, Kristoffer Cusick was Fiyero, and John Rubinstein was the Wizard.[47] The production closed on January 11, 2009, after 791 performances and 12 previews.[48] The first national touring production returned to the Pantages Theatre for a limited engagement from November 30, 2011 until January 29, 2012.[49] This LA production was also featured in "Something Wicked This Way Comes", a 2007 episode of Ugly Betty, as the Broadway production of Wicked, which is a major setting and plot point of the episode.

A San Francisco production of Wicked officially opened February 6, 2009, at SHN's Orpheum Theatre, following previews from January 27.[50] The cast included Teal Wicks as Elphaba, Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda, Nicolas Dromard as Fiyero, Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, David Garrison as the Wizard, Deedee Magno Hall as Nessarose, Tom Flynn as Doctor Dillamond, and Eddy Rioseco as Boq.[51][52] The production closed on September 5, 2010, after 672 performances and 12 previews with Marcie Dodd as Elphaba and Alli Mauzey as Glinda. The first national touring company most recently ended their second San Francisco engagement at the Orpheum Theatre, which ran January 23–February 17, 2013.[53]

The second national tour of Wicked (called the "Munchkinland Tour")[54] began in 2009 with previews on March 7 and official opening night on March 12 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, Florida. Like the first, this touring production has since visited numerous cities throughout North America. The original cast starred Marcie Dodd (the first actress to play both Nessarose and Elphaba full-time)[55] as Elphaba, Helene Yorke as Glinda, Colin Donnell as Fiyero, Kristine Reese as Nessarose, Marilyn Caskey as Madame Morrible, David deVries as Doctor Dillamond, Ted Ely as Boq and Tom McGowan as the Wizard.[56]

London[edit]

Since its opening, the London production has played at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

The West End production began previews at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from September 7, 2006, and officially opened on September 27. The production is currently booking until April 25, 2015[57] and celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2011 with a special curtain call featuring former West End cast members.[58] On June 3, 2014, the production became the 10th longest running show in the West End.[59] The London production was tailored slightly for a British audience, including minor creative changes to dialogue, choreography and special effects. A majority of these changes were later incorporated into all productions of Wicked.[60]

The West End production reunited the show's original creative team with Idina Menzel, who had originated the role of Elphaba in the Broadway production.[61] Original London cast members included Helen Dallimore as Glinda, Miriam Margolyes as Madame Morrible, Adam Garcia as Fiyero, Martin Ball as Doctor Dillamond, James Gillan as Boq, Katie Rowley Jones as Nessarose and Nigel Planer as the Wizard. After her limited engagement, Menzel was succeeded by Kerry Ellis, who became the first British woman to assume the role of Elphaba and the following year, the second actress to play Elphaba in both the Broadway and West End productions.

Every replacement Elphaba in the West End have been a landmark in the show's history. Ellis' replacement Alexia Khadime was the first black woman to have played Elphaba full-time. Her replacement, Rachel Tucker, became the longest-running London Elphaba, playing the role for over two and a half years upon her departure. Louise Dearman then took over as Elphaba, making her the first person in the musical's history to play both female leads, having played Glinda in the production from 2010-11.[62] Dutch actress Willemijn Verkaik, marking her fourth country in which she has performed the show, took over from Dearman, making her the third actress to have played the role on Broadway and on the West End.[63] Due to Verkaik having to cut her run short, it was announced that Kerry Ellis would return to the role in a limited 12-week engagement.[64] Nikki Davis-Jones will then take over as Elphaba, making her one of two women to have played the lead role in both the West End and the UK touring production. Similarly, former London standby Ashleigh Gray is to replace Davis-Jones on the tour.[65]

U.K. and Ireland Tour[edit]

The show began its first national tour of the UK and Ireland on September 12, 2013 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, where it is played to November 16 to sold-out crowds. It will visit Dublin from November 27, 2013. Other cities it will visiting in 2014 are Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton and Edinburgh.

In 2015, the tour will visit Plymouth, Bristol, Sunderland and Aberdeen, before concluding in Salford on July 25, 2015.[66]

The cast comprises former West End standby Nikki Davis-Jones in the lead role of Elphaba, with Emily Tierney (former West End ensemble) as Glinda, Liam Doyle as Fiyero, Marilyn Cutts as Madame Morrible, Carina Gillespie as Nessarose and George Ure reprising his role of Boq from the West End production. For the first time, the roles of The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond are being played by a single actor, Dale Rapley; the only other actor to play both roles in a single performance was David Stoller (November 2008, London), but this was only due to the absence of several actors.[67] Former London standby Ashleigh Gray is take over as Elphaba for the tour's second contract run, making her the second actress, after Davis-Jones, to have played the role in both the West End and the UK touring production. Davis-Jones is leaving in order to return to the London company and lead it's cast.

Subsequent international productions[edit]

A condensed thirty-minute version of the musical played at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Japan. Australian Jemma Rix was part of the original cast, alternating the role of Elphaba with Jillian Giaachi and Taylor Jordan. The show, which opened on July 12, 2006, featured the preliminary storyline of Act 1 but Fiyero, Madame Morrible, Boq, Nessarose and Doctor Dillamond were absent and there were considerable changes in sets and costumes.[68] The final performance took place on January 11, 2011.[69] The first replicated non-English production opened in Tokyo, Japan, on June 17, 2007 with Hamada Megumi as Elphaba and Numao Miyuki as Glinda. The production closed on September 6, 2009, in preparation for its transfer to Osaka.[70] After opening on October 11, 2009, the Osaka production closed on February 13, 2011, featuring Ebata Masae as Elphaba with Tomada Asako as Glinda. The production then moved again to Fukuoka on April 2, 2011 where its original stars were Ebata Masae (Elphaba) and Numao Miyuki (Glinda). After its closure in Fukuoka on August 28, 2011, the production re-located to Nagoya with performances beginning September 23. It starred Masae Ebata and Asako Tomada as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively. Wicked re-opened in Tokyo at the Dentsu Shiki Theatre on August 3, 2013.[71] The production will close on November 16, 2014.

Renamed Wicked: Die Hexen von Oz (Wicked: The Witches of Oz), the German production of Wicked began previews on November 1, 2007 and opened on November 15, at the Palladium Theater in Stuttgart. Willemijn Verkaik played Elphaba, Lucy Scherer played Glinda, Mark Seibert played Fiyero, Angelika Wedekind was Madame Morrible, Nicole Radeschnig was Nessarose, Stefan Stara was Boq, Michael Gunther was Doctor Dillamond, and Carlo Lauber played the Wizard. The production closed on January 29, 2010, and transferred to Oberhausen[72] where previews began at the Metronom Theater am CentrO on March 5, 2010, with an opening night of March 8.[73] The cast featured Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba, Joana Fee Würz as Glinda, Barbara Raunegger as Madame Morrible, Mathias Edenborn as Fiyero, Janine Tippl as Nessarose, Ben Darmanin as Boq, Thomas Wissmann as Doctor Dillamond, and Carlo Lauber as the Wizard. Willemijn Verkaik left the role of Elphaba in February 2011, after being consistently billed as lead for almost three and a half years between the Stuttgart and Oberhausen productions. The Oberhausen production closed on September 2, 2011.

Australian productions have played at the Regent Theatre, Melbourne (left) and the Capitol Theatre, Sydney (right)

An Australian production officially opened on July 12, 2008, with previews commencing June 27 at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.[74] Amanda Harrison and Lucy Durack played Elphaba and Glinda respectively, with Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Rob Guest as the Wizard, Rob Mills as Fiyero, Anthony Callea as Boq, Penny McNamee as Nessarose and Rodney Dobson as Doctor Dillamond.[75] However, Rob Guest, who played the Wizard, died suddenly on October 2, 2008, after suffering a stroke two days earlier.[76] Australian personality Bert Newton was brought in as his replacement six weeks later. In addition, Carmen Cusack, from the first North American tour and Chicago companies, made her Australian debut as the temporary standby for Elphaba while Amanda Harrison was on extended leave and regular standby Jemma Rix was performing as lead.[77][78] The Melbourne production closed on August 9, 2009, after 464 performances. The production then transferred to Sydney's Capitol Theatre. Previews began there on September 5, 2009, with the official opening on September 12, 2009. Most of the Melbourne cast transferred but understudy James D. Smith took over as Boq. The production closed on September 26, 2010, after 412 performances and 8 previews.

Following successful seasons in Melbourne and Sydney, an Australian tour began at the QPAC Lyric Theatre in Brisbane. After a two-week delay due to the Queensland floods, performances began January 25, 2011, and ran until April 2. The touring production then moved to the Festival Centre in Adelaide, running from April 14 until June 4, 2011, and played its final leg at the Burswood Theatre in Perth, starting on June 19, 2011. The cast included Sydney alumi Lucy Durack as Glinda, Jemma Rix as Elphaba, Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Bert Newton as the Wizard, Elisa Colla as Nessarose, Rodney Dobson as Doctor Dillamond and James D. Smith as Boq while Wicked newcomer David Harris plays Fiyero.[79] The Perth engagement finished on September 11, 2011, wrapping up more than 3 years of performances in Australia.[80]

The Australian company then transferred to Singapore's Grand Theater in Marina Bay Sands from December 6, 2011 onwards,[81][82] beginning an open-ended Asian tour. Jemma Rix played Elphaba on the tour, while Australian understudy Suzie Mathers took over as Glinda. They were joined by David Harris (Fiyero), Bert Newton (The Wizard), James D. Smith (Boq) and Elisa Colla (Nessarose), with Wicked newcomers Glen Hogstrom (Doctor Dillamond) and Anne Wood (Madame Morrible). After the Singapore engagement of the tour closed April 22, 2012,[83] performances began in Seoul, Korea from May 31, 2012. Hogstrom took over the role of the Wizard after the departure of Newton, while Doctor Dillamond was played by Nathan Carter who had previously understudied the role. After being extended twice, the run finished on October 7, 2012.

A brand new production, notable for not being a replica of the original Broadway staging, opened at the City Theatre in Helsinki, Finland on August 26, 2010 after a preview performance took place on August 24. Directed by Hans Berndtsson,[84] the production stars Maria Ylipää as Elphaba, Anna-Maija Tuokko as Glinda, Tuukka Leppänen as Fiyero, Ursula Salo as Madame Morrible, Vuokko Hovatta as Nessarose, Antti Lang as Boq, Heikki Sankari as Doctor Dillamond, and Eero Saarinen as the Wizard. The second non-replicated production ran in Copenhagen, Denmark from January 12 until May 29, 2011, and was presented by Det Ny Teater.[85] The cast included Annette Heick as Glinda, Maria Lucia Heiberg Rosenberg as Elphaba, John Martin Bengtsson as Fiyero, Marianne Mortensen as Madame Morrible, Anais Lueken as Nessarose, Kim Hammelsvang Henriksen as Boq, Kristian Boland as Doctor Dillamond and Steen Springborg as the Wizard.[86]

A Dutch-language production began previews at the Circus Theater in Scheveningen, The Netherlands on October 26, 2011. The official opening took place on November 6. Willemijn Verkaik reprises her role of Elphaba from the German productions, becoming the first actress to play the role in two different languages.[87] She is joined by Chantal Janzen as Glinda, Jim Bakkum as Fiyero, Pamela Teves as Madame Morrible, Christanne de Bruijn as Nessarose, Niels Jacobs as Boq, Jochem Feste Roozemond as Doctor Dillamond and Bill van Dijk in the role of the Wizard. As musicals do not usually run for a long open-ended run in the Netherlands, closing night took place as announced on January 11, 2013, following a 14-month run.

The musical made its New Zealand premiere on September 21, 2013 as the beginning of an Australasian national tour (previews began September 17). The Auckland run concluded on November 24, 2013, where it played the Civic Theatre.[88] Jemma Rix and Suzie Mathers return as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively, with Star Wars star Jay Laga'aia as the Wizard. Rounding out the cast is Steve Danielsen as Fiyero, Emily Cascarino as Nessarose, Edward Grey as Boq, as well as Glen Hogstrom and Maggie Kirkpatrick, who return to their roles as Doctor Dillamond and Madame Morrible, respectively. The Australasia cast, starring Jemma Rix and Suzie Mathers performed for the first time at the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila on a limited run starting January 22, 2014.[89] The Manila run ended on March 9 after having been extended from its original closing date of February 23.[90] The production opened at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne on 10 May 2014, and this is to be followed by stints in Sydney later in 2014 and Brisbane in 2015. Lucy Durack has returned to her role as Glinda for the Australian production, and Reg Livermore is The Wizard.

The first Spanish-language production opened in Mexico City, Mexico on October 17, 2013, following previews from October 10. Produced by OCESA Teatro, the replica production plays at the Teatro Telcel.[91] Former child star, Danna Paola, shares the role of Elphaba with Ana Cecilia Anzaldúa, making the 18-year-old Paola the youngest actress in history to take on the role. They are both joined by Cecilia de la Cueva as Glinda, Jorge Lau as Fiyero, Anahi Allué as Madame Morrible, Marisol Meneses as Nessarose, Adam Sadwing as Boq and Beto Torres as Doctor Dillamond. Eugenio Montessoro was originally cast as the Wizard, but was replaced during previews by Paco Morales, for unknown reasons.[92]

The first Korean-language production began performances in Seoul on November 22, 2013 and is an all-new replica production.

Film adaptation[edit]

A film adaptation of Wicked has been in talks since 2004 though producers have been waiting for a dip in the stage musical's earnings.[93][94] In July 2012, it was reported that Universal Studios, who are producing the film, was "taking steps forward" to its realization.[95] The company sought Stephen Daldry to direct the film while employing Winnie Holzman, who wrote the musical's book, to pen the screenplay. In December 2012, Marc Platt said that development of a film adaptation will happen 'soon'.[96] While a film adaptation of the musical has been talked about for some time, it has been slow in production. No casting or further members of the creative team have been announced.[95] There is no start date or release date set for the film.[97] In February 2013, Universal Pictures chairman, Adam Fogelson, said that due to the success of Les Misérables, a film adaptation might happen sooner rather than later.[98][99] In May 2014, while on Watch What Happens: Live, Idina Menzel stated that she and Kristin Chenoweth had been told they were too old to reprise their roles.[100]

Response[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The original Broadway production of Wicked was nominated for 10 Tony Awards in 2004, including Best Musical; Book; Orchestrations; Original Score; Choreography; Costume Design; Lighting Design; Scenic Design while receiving two nominations for Best Actress – for Menzel and Chenoweth.[101] Menzel won the Best Actress award, and the show also won the Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design, notably losing Best Book, Original Score and ultimately Best Musical to Avenue Q.[102] The same year, the show won 6 Drama Desk Awards out of 11 nominations, including Outstanding Musical, Book, Director and Costume Design[103][104] in addition to winning 4 Outer Critics Circle Awards out of 10 nominations. The original Broadway cast recording also received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. Since its opening in 2003, the Broadway production of Wicked has accrued 32 awards out of 63 nominations, being consecutively nominated every year for at least one award.

Similarly, subsequent productions of the musical have equated in abundant success. The North American tours have garnered 12 awards out of 14 nominations while the Chicago production was nominated for 5 Joseph Jefferson Awards. The West End production has received 5 Laurence Olivier Award nominations and despite not winning any in 2007,[105] it won the Audience Award for Most Popular Show at the 2010 award ceremony.[106] The original Australian production received 6 Helpmann Awards out of 12 nominations, including Best Musical. Wicked was named the Best Musical of the Decade by Entertainment Weekly magazine and hailed "a cultural phenomenon" by Variety magazine.[107] While not technically an "award", the character of Elphaba was named 79th on Entertainment Weekly's list of The 100 Greatest Characters of the Past 20 Years.[108]

Critical reception[edit]

Touring cast members in the curtain call at a show in Omaha, Nebraska

The Broadway production opened on October 30, 2003, to mixed reviews from theatre critics.[109][110] Menzel and Chenoweth received nearly unanimous praise for their performances as Elphaba and Glinda. Both USA Today and Time Magazine gave the Broadway production of Wicked very positive reviews, with Richard Zoglin of Time saying, "If every musical had a brain, a heart and the courage of Wicked, Broadway really would be a magical place."[111] Elysa Gardner of USA Today described it as "the most complete, and completely satisfying, new musical I've come across in a long time."[112] Conversely, Ben Brantley in the New York Times loved the production but panned the show itself, calling it a "sermon" that "so overplays its hand that it seriously dilutes its power," with a "generic" score. He noted that Glinda is such a showy role that the audience ends up rooting for her rather than the "surprisingly colorless" Elphaba, who is "nominally" the hero.[113] Despite these mixed reviews, interest in Wicked spread quickly by word-of-mouth, leading to record-breaking success at the box office, as described below. Speaking to The Arizona Republic in 2006, Schwartz commented, "What can I say? Reviews are reviews.... I know we divided the critics. We didn't divide the audience, and that's what counts."[112][114]

International productions have opened to similarly ambivalent critical reception. The West End production opened to a slightly more upbeat response. The majority of critics have appreciated the spectacle of the lavish production, and the "powerhouse" performances of actors in the roles of the two witches. However, contemporaries have characterized the production as overblown, occasionally preachy, and suffering from more hype than heart. Although Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph described it as "at times ... a bit of a mess," he praised Holzman's script, described Kenneth Posner's lighting design as "magical" and lauded Menzel's Elphaba and Helen Dallimore's Glinda.[115] Michael Billington of The Guardian gave it three out of five stars and remarked on the competence of all the lead actors; however, he complained that Wicked was "all too typical of the modern Broadway musical: efficient, knowing and highly professional but more like a piece of industrial product than something that genuinely touches the heart or mind".[116] Paul Taylor of The Independent gave extremely negative remarks to his viewing of the London production, calling the attempt at topical political allegory "well-meaning but also melodramatic, incoherent and dreadfully superficial" while deploring the acting, songs and book, concluding that "the production manages to feel at once overblown and empty."[117]

Commercial reception[edit]

Playing at the Oriental Theatre for more than 3 years, the Chicago production continually broke box-office records

Since its opening in 2003, the original Broadway production of Wicked has broken the house record at the Gershwin Theatre twenty times. It regularly grosses in excess of $1.6 million each week, making it one of the most lucrative productions on Broadway.[118][119] With a $14 million capitalization, the Broadway production took 15 months to break even, earning back its initial investment by December 21, 2004.[14] In its first year, it grossed more than $56 million.[120] In the week ending January 1, 2006, Wicked broke the record, previously held by the musical The Producers, for the highest weekly box office gross in Broadway history, earning $1,610,934.[121] It has gone on to break its own record numerous times, reaching $1,715,155 in November 2006,[122] $1,839,950, during the 2007 Christmas week, $2,086,135 for the week ending November 29, 2009,[123] $2,125,740 just a few weeks later for the eight performances ending January 3, 2010,[124] and over $2.2 million in the week ending January 2, 2011.[125] In the first week of 2012, the Broadway production broke a record again, earning $2.7 million. Wicked once again broke this record in the final week of 2012 when it grossed $2.9 million.[126] In the final weekend of 2013, Wicked became the first musical to gross $3 million in one week.[6]

Wicked's productions across North America and abroad have been equally financially successful. The Los Angeles production took the local weekly gross record, again from a performance of The Producers, bringing in $1,786,110 in the week ending March 4, 2007.[127] The production joined its Broadway counterpart in setting a new record over Christmas 2007 with $1,949,968, with records also set in Chicago ($1,418,363),[128] and St Louis ($2,291,608),[129] to bring the collective gross of the seven worldwide productions to a world record-breaking $11.2 million.[130] A new suite of records were set over Christmas 2010, with house records broken in San Francisco ($1,485,692), Providence ($1,793,764) and Schenectady ($1,657,139) as well as Broadway, bringing the musical's one-week gross in North America alone to $7,062,335.[131]

Wicked played to more than 2 million visitors in Chicago with a gross of over $200 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Chicago history by June 2007.[132][133] With an opening-week gross of $1,400,000, it continually set records and became the longest-running Broadway musical in Chicago history.[134][135] Producer David Stone told Variety, "we thought it [the Chicago production] would run 18 months, then we'd spend a year in Los Angeles and six months in San Francisco... but sales stayed so strong that the producers created another road show and kept the show running in Chicago."[136] In addition, over 2.2 million saw the touring production in its first two years, which grossed over $155 million[137] The Los Angeles production grossed over $145 million and was seen by more than 1.8 million patrons.[138] Over the 672 performances of the San Francisco production, Wicked sold over 1 million tickets with a cumulative gross of over $75 million.[139] While the Broadway production of Wicked welcomed its 5 millionth audience member on September 29, 2010,[140]

The Los Angeles production played at the Pantages Theatre for almost 2 years, grossing more than $145 million

International productions of Wicked have matched the extremely positive reception at the box-office. Although West End theatres do not publish audited weekly grosses,[141] the West End production of Wicked claimed to take the record for highest one-week gross in December 2006, taking £761,000 in the week ending December 30.[142][143] On June 23, 2008, the producers reported that over 1.4 million people had seen the London production since its opening, and grosses had topped £50 million;[144] The same reports stated that the show has consistently been one of the two highest-grossing shows in the West End.[143] For the week commencing December 27, 2010, the London production grossed £1,002,885, the highest single-week gross in West End theatre history,[145] with over 20,000 theatregoers attending the nine performances of Wicked that week.[146] The Melbourne production broke Australian box-office records, selling 24,750 tickets in three hours during pre-sales and grossing over $1.3 million on the first business day after its official opening.[147] On April 27, 2009, the production passed the milestone of 500,000 patrons.[148] When it transferred to Sydney, the production broke "all previous weekly box office records for a musical at the Capitol Theatre, grossing $1,473,775.70" in one week during October 2009.[149]

In the week ending October 17, 2010, Wicked became only the third musical in Broadway history to exceed $500 million in total gross. By seats sold on Broadway, it ranks tenth of all time.[150] As of September 2011, Wicked's North American and international companies have cumulatively grossed nearly $2.5 billion and have been seen by nearly 30 million people worldwide.[151] The original production still runs today and currently stands as the 11th longest-running Broadway show in history.[1][2] Wicked celebrated its 1,000th performance on Broadway on March 23, 2006.[152] Several other productions have also reached the 1,000th performance milestone, including the first North American touring company on August 15, 2007,[153] the Chicago company on November 14, 2007,[134] the West End company on February 14, 2009,[154] the Australian company on May 7, 2011[155] and the second North American touring company on August 4, 2011.[156]

Behind the Emerald Curtain[edit]

The success of the Broadway production has led to the development of an auxiliary show, Behind the Emerald Curtain, created by Sean McCourt – an original Broadway production cast member who played the Witch's Father, among other roles, in addition to understudying the Wizard and Doctor Dillamond, before taking over the latter principal role – and Anthony Galde who was a long-running swing in the Broadway company from 2004 to 2012. The tour features a ninety minute behind-the-scenes look at the props, masks, costumes and sets used in the show, and includes a question-and-answer session with the cast members. The Broadway tour is currently led by McCourt and long-running ensemble member and Glinda understudy Lindsay K. Northen.[157] The tour also featured in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago sit-down productions, and were each run by different long-serving cast members of the show. The tour provides a behind the scenes look at what goes into putting on the show every day. Participants get a first hand account of what it is like to be a part of the massive production that Wicked is.[158]

In popular culture[edit]

The success of Wicked has made several of the show's songs popular and has resulted in references to the show, characters, and songs in popular culture. The Broadway production has been featured in episodes of television programs, including Brothers & Sisters and The War at Home[159] while, for filming purposes, the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles doubled for the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway[160] in an episode of Ugly Betty titled "Something Wicked This Way Comes" where Betty, the show's protagonist, goes to see Wicked on a date and accidentally stops the show.[161] In the episode previous to this, "Brothers", Betty gets tickets to see Wicked and discusses with a friend how much she relates to Elphaba's outcast status in a popularity and beauty-oriented environment.[162] In addition, The Simpsons episode "Donnie Fatso" sees Homer Simpson and Moe Szyslak accidentally sneak into a Springfield production of the show. The South Park episode "Broadway Bro Down" features Wicked and other musicals and have these shows contain subliminal messaging. In the episode these messages persuade women into performing oral sex upon their spouse or boyfriend.

"Defying Gravity" was covered on the television series Glee in the "Wheels" episode where two of the characters – the main female Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) and a supporting male character Kurt Hummel (played by Chris Colfer) – competed for a lead role by singing the song. In a later episode titled "New York", the two duet on the Gershwin stage and sing "For Good". During Season 5 Rachel, Kurt and Mercedes Jones (Played by Amber Riley) all perform "Defying Gravity" again in honour of the show's 100th episode. On the show New Girl, Winston sings the songs "Popular" and "Defying Gravity" on a trip to Mexico. A clip of the song "Popular" also plays in the 2009 movie Zombieland.

Entertainer John Barrowman sang a version of "The Wizard and I" (retitled "The Doctor and I) on his 2008 UK tour, with adapted lyrics referring to his Doctor Who and Torchwood character Jack's affection for The Doctor. Kerry Ellis, who played Elphaba in the West End and the Broadway productions of Wicked, recorded a version of "I'm Not that Girl" which appears on the fifth anniversary edition of the original Broadway cast recording. She also recorded her own rock version of "Defying Gravity". Both songs were produced by British musician Brian May and were featured on her extended play Wicked in Rock (2008) and debut album Anthems (2010). She performed her version of "Defying Gravity" at the 2008 Royal Variety Performance alongside May on guitar. A dance remix of her rock version of "Defying Gravity" was later released in 2011. Louise Dearman, who has played both Elphaba and Glinda in the West End production, released an acoustic version of "Defying Gravity" for the Wicked edition of her album Here Comes the Sun. Her former co-star and London Elphaba Rachel Tucker also covered "Defying Gravity" (closer to the stage version) as part of her 2013 debut album, The Reason. Rapper Drake sampled the musical's song "Popular" in his song of the same name; singer Mika also sampled the song in his song "Popular Song".[163]

American band Wheatus released an EP 'The Lightning EP' in their 'Pop, Songs & Death' series that was inspired by Wicked with heavy influences throughout including lyrics in 'Real Girl' such as "You were the perfect colour, Bright green lady" with Elphaba and Scarecrow like characters in the video. The cover art for the album was also bright green and included an Elphaba style hat.

Media as diverse as the anime series Red Garden, the daytime drama Passions and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer graphic novels have all parodied Wicked's songs and characters.[164][165] At the start of the second of three episodes of the miniseries, Tin Man (another adaptation of Baum's Ozian universe), protagonist DG refers to her father as "Popsicle" vice the more common names "Pop" or "Pappi", echoing Galinda in her letter home at the start of "What is this Feeling?".[166] Also, in the second episode of the ABC Family drama series Huge, one of the characters wears a "Shiz University" athletic Dept t-shirt, while Wicked and its "long lines" have been mentioned in the Nickelodeon series iCarly. The Broadway musical Shrek the Musical parodies the show's Act I finale with "What's Up, Duloc?"; character Lord Farquaad re-enacts "Defying Gravity" by proclaiming "No one's gonna bring me down" followed by the legato belt while atop his castle.

The Oscar-winning song "Let It Go" from the successful 2013 Disney film Frozen, that also won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, had been compared to "Defying Gravity" due to its similar theme and similar singing style,[167] and was sung by the original Elphaba Idina Menzel.

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b "Longest Runs on Broadway". Playbill. August 14, 2011.
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  4. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Wicked Breaks Record for Highest-Grossing Week in Broadway History". Playbill. January 4, 2011, Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  5. ^ Press release (January 4, 2011). "Wicked Sets New Box Office Record with a Single Week Gross of over £1 Million, Crowning a Record-Breaking 2010". wickedthemusical.co.uk. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
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  12. ^ "Wicked – Script". MusicalSchwartz.com. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
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  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k David Cote (2005). Wicked: The Grimmerie: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hit Broadway Musical. Hyperion. ISBN 978-1-4013-0820-9. 
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External links[edit]