|The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz|
|Basis||Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West|
by Gregory Maguire
|Premiere||May 28, 2003: Curran Theatre, San Francisco|
|Productions||2003 San Francisco (tryout)|
2005 1st U.S. tour
2006 West End
2009 2nd U.S. tour
2013 1st UK/Ireland tour
2017 2nd UK/Ireland tour
Multiple international productions (see below)
|Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical |
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics
Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Musical
Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical
Wicked is a Broadway musical, with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and 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, itself a retelling of the classic 1900 novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The 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 Gale arrives 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 Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch), who struggle through opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's private fall from grace.
Produced by Universal Stage Productions in coalition with Marc Platt, Jon B. Platt and David Stone, with direction by Joe Mantello and choreography by Wayne Cilento, the 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/June of that same year. Its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard. The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, while its original cast album received a Grammy Award.
Wicked celebrated its 16th anniversary on Broadway on October 30, 2019. On October 28, with its 6,681st performance, it had surpassed Les Misérables to become Broadway's fifth-longest running show. A typical show takes about two hours and 30 minutes, along with an intermission.
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. In the final week of 2013, the Broadway production broke this record again, earning $3.2 million.
In March 2016, Wicked surpassed $1 billion in total Broadway revenue, joining both The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King as the only Broadway shows to do so. In July 2017, Wicked surpassed The Phantom of the Opera as Broadway's second-highest grossing musical, trailing only behind The Lion King.
Inception and development
Composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz discovered 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. However, Maguire had released the rights to Universal Pictures, which had planned to develop a live-action feature film. In 1998, Schwartz persuaded Maguire to release the rights to a stage production while also making what Schwartz called an "impassioned plea" to Universal producer Marc Platt to realize Schwartz's own intended adaptation. Persuaded, Platt signed on as joint producer of the project with Universal and David Stone.
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 Galinda, the beautiful, blonde, popular girl who grows up to become Glinda the Good Witch of the South. The story is divided into five different sections based on the plot location and presents events, characters, and situations from 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. 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 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.
While the draft followed Maguire's idea of retelling the story of the 1939 film from the perspective of its main villain, the storyline 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." 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." 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, the deletion of Liir's birth, Fiyero not having a wife and children, Doctor Dillamond not being murdered, and Madame Morrible going to prison instead of dying.
The book, lyrics, and score for the musical were developed through a series of readings. For these developmental workshops, Kristin Chenoweth, the Tony Award–winning actress whom Schwartz had in mind while composing the music for the character, joined the project as Glinda. Stephanie J. Block played Elphaba in all of the workshops (she was the original Elphaba in the first national tour, and joined the Broadway cast later on) before fellow performer Idina Menzel was cast in the role in late 2000. Earlier that same year, the creators recruited New York producer 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. 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". By April 2003, a full cast had been assembled and the show readied its debut.
Following the out-of-town tryout in San Francisco, which received mixed critical reception, the creative team made extensive changes before its transfer to Broadway. Speaking about the changes, Holzman said:
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.
Elements of the book were rewritten, while several songs underwent minor transformations. This included the excision of "Which Way is the Party?", the introductory song to the character Fiyero, which was replaced by "Dancing Through Life". Concern existed that Menzel's Elphaba "got a little overshadowed" by Chenoweth's Glinda, with San Francisco Chronicle critic Robert Hurwitt writing, "Menzel's brightly intense Elphaba the Wicked Witch [needs] a chance of holding her own alongside Chenoweth's gloriously, insidiously bubbly Glinda". As a result, the creative team set about making Elphaba "more prominent". 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."
In the Land of Oz, the Ozians celebrate the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda the Good Witch floats in and reveals Elphaba's past: her mother had an affair with a traveling salesman after Elphaba's "father", the governor of Munchkinland, went out of town. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to a baby girl with green skin, whom her father resented and showered his affection on her younger sister Nessarose, physically disabled and in a wheelchair ("No One Mourns the Wicked"). Glinda admits that they were friends, leading her to tell their story. A flashback starts with a scene at Shiz University, where Elphaba arrives with her father and Nessarose ("Dear Old Shiz"). As their father says goodbye, he gives Nessa a pair of jeweled shoes. The headmistress of Shiz, Madame Morrible, decides to take Nessa under her wing, leaving the nerdy Elphaba and the popular Glinda as roommates. Elphaba attempts to take back her sister, and she makes Nessa come back into her hands. Madame Morrible recognizes Elphaba's potential, and decides to teach her sorcery. She tells Elphaba her powers might allow her to one day work with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, something Elphaba has dreamed of her whole life ("The Wizard and I").
Glinda and Elphaba do not get along ("What Is This Feeling?"), constantly clashing with each other even in their classes, such as their history class with Doctor Dillamond, a Goat who, as the only Animal professor at Shiz, is beginning to suffer from discrimination. He tells Elphaba about a conspiracy to stop animals from speaking, and she wants to let the Wizard know ("Something Bad"). The Winkie Prince Fiyero Tiggular arrives at Shiz and introduces the other students to his philosophy of simply "Dancing Through Life". He decides to have a party at the Ozdust Ballroom that evening, and everyone agrees to go. A Munchkin named Boq asks Glinda to go with him, but she convinces him to take Nessarose so she could go with Fiyero. At the party that evening, Boq tries to tell Nessa the real reason he invited her but is too nice to hurt her feelings. Madame Morrible arrives to tell Glinda she can join her sorcery class at Elphaba's obliging request, and gives her a wand. Elphaba arrives wearing a witch's hat Glinda gave her as a practical joke, only to find the other students laughing and staring while she dances alone. Glinda starts to dance with her and soon, everyone joins them, allowing the girls to finally become friends.
Back in their room, they continue to bond with secrets. Glinda decides to give her new friend a personality makeover ("Popular"). At class the next day, Dr. Dillamond tells the class that he has been dismissed. Elphaba wants to help, but no one will stand up with her. Afterward, the students are introduced to the cage, which will keep Animals controlled. Elphaba's fury cannot be contained, and in the ensuing chaos, she and Fiyero steal the Lion cub and escape. They share a private moment with each other before he leaves to free the cub, leaving Elphaba alone to lament ("I'm Not That Girl"). Madame Morrible tells Elphaba that the Wizard has decided to meet her. Nessarose, Fiyero, and Galinda see her off at the train station. Galinda tries to impress Fiyero by changing her name to simply "Glinda", in honor of Dr. Dillamond, but Fiyero just says his goodbyes. Elphaba invites Glinda for a day of sightseeing in the Emerald City ("One Short Day").
Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard of Oz, who turns out to be not quite as scary as they thought ("A Sentimental Man"). He promises Elphaba that he will grant her request if she proves herself. Madame Morrible appears; she is revealed to be the Wizard's new "press secretary". She gives Elphaba a book of spells, called the Grimmerie, which only the magically gifted can read. Elphaba is asked to try a levitation spell on the Wizard's monkey servant, Chistery, but it only makes Chistery sprout wings. She discovers that the Wizard is the one behind the suppression of the animals, and that he is a fraud. She runs from the Wizard's chamber, and to prevent the truth from getting out, Madame Morrible warns all of Oz that Elphaba is a "wicked witch!" Elphaba swears revenge on the Wizard and performs a spell on a broom and flees from the Emerald City ("Defying Gravity").
Sometime later, Elphaba's opposition has earned her the title of "The Wicked Witch of the West." Glinda has become the positive public front, given the title ‘Glinda the Good’ and positioned by The Wizard as the nation's defender against Elphaba. A press conference to celebrate Fiyero's engagement to Glinda and appointment as captain of the guard is hijacked by the crowd's panicked rumors about Elphaba, including one saying that "pure water can melt her!" Fiyero is incredulous and not convinced by Glinda's insistence that Elphaba does not want to be found. She attempts to keep a cheerful front for the press, but clearly regrets her decision ("Thank Goodness").
Elphaba pays a visit to Nessarose, now the governor of Munchkinland following the death of their father. Nessa has taken away the Munchkins' rights so that Boq can't leave her. Elphaba tries to convince her sister to side with her against the Wizard, but Nessa is more concerned with her own problems. Elphaba tries to help by giving Nessa the power to walk, by turning Nessa's jeweled shoes into ruby slippers. Nessa calls for Boq, convinced he would love her now, but he only sees this as proof that she does not need him anymore, and the opportunity to take his last chance to tell Glinda his love for her. Nessa takes the Grimmerie and tries to cast a spell to make Boq fall in love with her. However, she pronounces the words all wrong, and accidentally shrinks Boq's heart ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). Elphaba works another spell to save his life, if in a different physical form. When Boq awakens, Elphaba is gone and he finds himself in the state as the Tin Woodman. Horrified, Nessa lays the blame on Elphaba.
Elphaba returns to the Wizard's palace to free the monkey servants and encounters the Wizard. He tries once again to convince her to work with him, telling her that he is not evil, but just an average man who came into his position by chance, and he offers to redeem Elphaba's reputation ("Wonderful"). She is almost won over, until she sees Dr. Dillamond who has lost the power of speech. Angered by this, Elphaba accuses the Wizard, but he calls the guards to arrest Elphaba. However, Fiyero helps Elphaba escape and leaves with her. Heartbroken at Fiyero's decision ("I'm Not That Girl (reprise)"), Glinda suggests to the Wizard and Madame Morrible to use Nessarose as bait. Morrible agrees, and conjures up "a change in the weather".
In the middle of the woods, Elphaba and Fiyero express their love for each other ("As Long As You're Mine") before Elphaba has a vision of Nessa in danger. Before Elphaba leaves, Fiyero says she could stay at Kiamo Ko, a castle his family owns. Elphaba arrives in Munchkinland to find Nessa crushed by a house with a girl named Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto inside, who Glinda sent on the yellow brick road with Nessa's ruby slippers. The two have a heated argument as the Wizard's guards arrive. Fiyero holds Glinda hostage until Elphaba flees. Glinda pleads for the guards not to harm him, but they do not listen and escort Fiyero into a nearby cornfield. Meanwhile, at Kiamo Ko, Elphaba tries to cast a spell to save Fiyero, but is crestfallen by the limitations of her power. She decides to accept her reputation as a "Wicked Witch" ("No Good Deed").
Later, at the capital of Oz, all of its citizens unite, declaring war on Elphaba. Glinda has realized that Madame Morrible is responsible for Nessa's death. She flees in horror to warn Elphaba, as the angry mob sets out to take Kiamo Ko ("March of the Witch Hunters"), where Elphaba holds Dorothy and Toto captive, refusing to release them until Dorothy gives her Nessa's slippers. Glinda warns her of the danger and begs her to let Dorothy and Toto go. Elphaba refuses until she receives a letter saying that Fiyero has died. The two women forgive each other, acknowledging their mistakes. To help her in her future, Elphaba gives the Grimmerie to Glinda. The two friends embrace for the last time, before the mob arrives ("For Good"). Glinda hides, and she watches as Dorothy throws a bucket of water on Elphaba, melting her. The only remains of her are her pointy hat and the Green Elixir that her mother drank.
In the Emerald City, Glinda confronts the Wizard with Elphaba's bottle, which he recognizes as his own. It is revealed that he was Elphaba's biological father, her mother's lover, and the cause of her green skin. Glinda banishes the Wizard from Oz and sends Madame Morrible to prison. Meanwhile, Fiyero (transformed into the scarecrow by Elphaba's spell) comes to the spot where Elphaba melted. He knocks on the floor and out from a trap door steps Elphaba, very much alive. Before leaving, Elphaba regrets that she will never see Glinda again and tell her that they are alive. Simultaneously, the musical returns to its starting point. Glinda finishes the story and promises the people of Oz that she will properly earn her title as Glinda the Good. As the people celebrate and Glinda quietly mourns, Elphaba and Fiyero leave Oz ("Finale").
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2019)
Notable Broadway replacements
- Elphaba: Shoshana Bean, Stephanie J. Block, Caroline Bowman, Jackie Burns, Jennifer DiNoia, Marcie Dodd, Kerry Ellis, Eden Espinosa, Ana Gasteyer, Mandy Gonzalez, Lindsay Mendez, Julia Murney, Nicole Parker, Lindsay Pearce, Dee Roscioli, Rachel Tucker, Willemijn Verkaik, Jessica Vosk, Teal Wicks
- Glinda: Annaleigh Ashford, Jenni Barber, Katie Rose Clarke, Megan Hilty, Kendra Kassebaum, Kara Lindsay, Erin Mackey, Alli Mauzey, Kate Reinders, Chandra Lee Schwartz, Jennifer Laura Thompson, Amanda Jane Cooper
- Fiyero: Ashley Parker Angel, Sebastian Arcelus, Richard H. Blake, Taye Diggs, Justin Guarini, Curt Hansen, Andy Karl, Kevin Kern, Derek Klena, Kyle Dean Massey, Ryan McCartan, Joey McIntyre, Aaron Tveit
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Fred Applegate, Kevin Chamberlin, David Garrison, George Hearn, Tom McGowan, Peter Scolari, Ben Vereen, Lenny Wolpe
- Madame Morrible: Alexandra Billings, Jayne Houdyshell, Carol Kane, Judy Kaye, Michele Lee, Miriam Margolyes, Rue McClanahan, Nancy Opel, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Rondi Reed, Mary Testa
- Nessarose: Kelli Barrett, Catherine Charlebois, Jenna Leigh Green, Arielle Jacobs, Shoba Narayan
- Boq: Alex Brightman, Robin de Jesús, Randy Harrison, Robb Sapp, Taylor Trensch
- Doctor Dillamond: K. Todd Freeman, Michael Genet, Sean McCourt, Martin Moran, Timothy Britten Parker
Notable West End replacements
- Elphaba: Louise Dearman, Jennifer DiNoia, Kerry Ellis, Emma Hatton, Alexia Khadime, Rachel Tucker, Willemijn Verkaik
- Glinda: Gina Beck, Louise Dearman, Sophie Evans, Suzie Mathers, Dianne Pilkington, Savannah Stevenson
- Fiyero: Alistair Brammer, Mark Evans, Ben Freeman, Lee Mead, Oliver Tompsett, Matt Willis, David Witts
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: Desmond Barrit, Clive Carter, Mark Curry, Andy Hockley, Sam Kelly, Tom McGowan
- Madame Morrible: Susie Blake, Anita Dobson, Kim Ismay, Julie Legrand, Louise Plowright, Liza Sadovy, Harriet Thorpe
- Nessarose: Natalie Anderson, Caroline Keiff
- Doctor Dillamond: Paul Clarkson, Chris Jarman, Steven Pinder
Note: "The Wicked Witch of the East" is the only major piece to not be featured on the cast recording, as the producers felt "the song included too much dialogue and would give some of the plot away to people who have not seen the show."
Music and recordings
The score of Wicked is heavily thematic, bearing in some senses more resemblance to a film score than a traditional musical score. 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 Glinda presents Elphaba with a "ghastly" hat in "Dancing through Life", the score reprises a theme from "What is this Feeling?" a few scenes earlier.
Two musical themes in Wicked run throughout the score. Although Schwartz rarely reuses motifs or melodies from earlier works, the first – Elphaba's theme – came from The Survival of St. Joan, on which he worked as musical director. "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. 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". 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.
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'". 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. 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.
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)", "A Sentimental Man (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". 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. The recording received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2005 and was certified platinum by the RIAA on November 30, 2006. The album was certified double platinum on November 8, 2010. 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.
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. 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.
Original Broadway production
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. The cast included Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Robert Morse 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. Stephanie J. Block, who originally read the role of Elphaba in workshop development, was Menzel's standby during tryouts, but left before the show moved to Broadway to take a role in The Boy from Oz. The tryout closed on June 29, 2003, and after extensive retooling, 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. Principal casting changes included Joel Grey as the Wizard, William Youmans as Doctor Dillamond and Christopher Fitzgerald as Boq.
North American productions
In 2005, the first national tour of Wicked (called the "Emerald City Tour" by the producers) started in Toronto, Ontario, and went on to visit numerous cities throughout the United States and Canada. Previews began on March 8, and officially opened on March 31. The original touring cast included Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda, Stephanie J. Block as Elphaba, 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. The tour concluded at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles on March 15, 2015.
Following a limited engagement of the first national tour from April 29 to June 12, 2005, a sit-down production opened at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago immediately following the tour. The 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. The production closed on January 25, 2009. Twice again, the tour returned to Chicago in 2010 and 2013.
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. The cast included Megan Hilty as Glinda, Eden Espinosa as Elphaba, Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, Timothy Britten Parker as Doctor Dillamond, Jenna Leigh Green as Nessarose, Adam Wylie as Boq, Kristoffer Cusick as Fiyero, and John Rubinstein as the Wizard. The production closed on January 11, 2009, after 791 performances and 12 previews.
A San Francisco production of Wicked officially opened February 6, 2009, at SHN's Orpheum Theatre, following previews from January 27. 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. The production closed on September 5, 2010, after 660 performances and 12 previews.
The second national tour of Wicked (called the "Munchkinland Tour") 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. The original cast starred Marcie Dodd as Elphaba, Heléne Yorke as Glinda, Colin Donnell as Fiyero, and Tom McGowan as the Wizard. The production was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed performances on August 3, 2021.
A London production began previews at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from September 7, and with an opening night on September 27, 2006. It celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 with a special curtain call featuring former West End cast members. The production was tailored slightly for a British audience, including minor creative changes to dialogue, choreography and special effects. A majority of them were later incorporated into all productions of Wicked, including the Broadway production and the two national tours.
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 (along with its 2003 San Francisco try-out). 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, which ended on December 30, 2006, Menzel was succeeded on January 1, 2007 by Kerry Ellis, who became the first British woman to play Elphaba.
The production suspended performances on March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. It resumed performances on September 15, 2021, in time for the production's 15th anniversary. Sophie Evans who played Glinda from 2017 to 2019 is reprising her role and Laura Pick will continue as Elphaba.
The show began its first UK/Ireland tour on September 12, 2013 at the Palace Theatre in Manchester, where it is played to November 16. It then toured the UK and Ireland before concluding in Salford on July 25, 2015.
Wicked's international tour opened on July 13, 2016 at the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford, England. Jacqueline Hughes starred as Elphaba, with Carly Anderson as Glinda and Bradley Jaden as Fiyero. Alongside them are Steven Pinder as the Wizard and Dillamond, Kim Ismay as Madame Morrible, Emily Shaw as Nessarose, and Iddon Jones as Boq.
Amanda Harrison was originally cast as Elphaba, with Lucy Durack as Glinda. The original cast consisted of Rob Mills as Fiyero, Anthony Callea as Boq, Rob Guest as the Wizard, Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Penny McNamee as Nessarose and Rodney Dobson as Doctor Dillamond. Guest unexpectedly died months into the Melbourne season, with the role being taken up by Bert Newton.
Closing in Melbourne August 9, 2009, the show transferred to Sydney's Capitol Theatre. Previews began on September 5, 2009, with the official opening on September 12. Shortly into the run, Harrison was forced to leave the role of Elphaba due to an illness, so current standby Jemma Rix and Australian theatre veteran Pippa Grandison began to share the role, each appearing in four shows per week. Eventually, it was confirmed that she would not be returning to the cast.
Closing in Sydney September 26, 2010, the production embarked on a national Australian tour which 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. Rix became the sole lead Elphaba with David Harris joining as the new Fiyero.
The touring production then moved to the Festival Centre in Adelaide, running from April 14 until June 4, 2011, with the final leg of the tour playing the Burswood Theatre in Perth, from June 19 to September 11, 2011, wrapping up more than three years of performances in Australia.
After the Singapore engagement of the tour closed April 22, 2012, performances began in Seoul, Korea from May 31 through October 6, 2012. The show then made its premiere in New Zealand, with previews taking place on September 17, 2013, and the official opening night on September 21. The Auckland run concluded on November 24, 2013, where it played the Civic Theatre. The cast then moved on to the Main Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines in Manila on a limited run from January 22 through March 9, 2014 after having been extended from its original closing date.
At the time of the Wicked’s 10th Anniversary on Broadway, the show announced it would return to Australia for a commemorative national tour, beginning in Melbourne on May 10, 2014. Lucy Durack returned as Glinda, with Jemma Rix continuing as Elphaba.
The final cast included Suzie Mathers (who had returned once Durack announced her pregnancy) as Glinda, Steve Danielsen as Fiyero, Simon Gallaher as the Wizard, Edward Grey as Boq, Emily Cascarino as Nessarose, Glen Hogstrom as Doctor Dillamond and original cast members Jemma Rix as Elphaba and Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible. After seven years and close to 2,000 performances across 8 different cities internationally, Wicked closed indefinitely at the Burswood Theatre in Perth on June 28, 2015.
Subsequent international productions
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. The final performance took place on January 11, 2011. A Japanese production by the Shiki Theatre Company opened in Tokyo, Japan, on June 17, 2007, and subsequently moved to Osaka, Fukoka and Nagoya, before closing in Sapporo on November 6, 2016.
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. The production was produced by Stage Entertainment and closed on January 29, 2010, and transferred to Oberhausen where previews began at the Metronom Theater am CentrO on March 5, 2010, with an opening night of March 8.
Another production, which was 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 of that year. Directed by Hans Berndtsson, the cast includes Maria Ylipää as Elphaba, with Tuukka Leppanen as Fiyero. The second non-replicated production ran in Copenhagen, Denmark from January 12 until May 29, 2011, and was presented by Det Ny Teater.
A Dutch-language production began previews at the Circustheater in The Hague, The Netherlands on October 26, 2011 and was produced by Joop van den Ende Theaterproducties/Stage Entertainment. 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.
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 played at the Teatro Telcel.
The first Korean-language production began performances in Seoul on November 22, 2013 and is an all-new replica production. This production, located at the Charlotte Theater in Seoul, ran from November 22, 2013, to October 5, 2014.
In November 2015, the company "Time For Fun", a leading company in the entertainment market in Latin America, announced the adaptation of the musical in Brazil, that debuted in March 2016 at the Renault Theatre in São Paulo. It is the largest stage that the musical has been mounted on yet. Despite the production closing on December 18, 2016, on November 12, 2018 it was announced that there will be a Brazilian revival production of the show, this time in Rio de Janeiro's entertainment center Cidade das Artes. Cast and show dates are yet to be announced, though it was expected to begin performances in mid 2019.
On September 5, 2021 a brand new non-replica production opened at the Neue Flora Theatre in Hamburg, produced by Stage Entertainment, which previously had presented the show in Stuttgart, Oberhausen, and The Hague. Vajèn van den Bosch and Jeannine Wacker have been cast as Elphaba and Glinda respectively.
Adaptations and anniversary tributes
A film adaptation of Wicked had been discussed since 2004, though producers were waiting for a dip in the stage musical's earnings. By 2012, Universal Studios was reported to be producing the film with Stephen Daldry as director and Winnie Holzman, who wrote the musical's book, to pen the screenplay. Universal announced in 2016 that the film would be released in theaters on December 20, 2019, with Daldry still attached to direct it, and the script to be co-written by the musical's creators, Holzman and Schwartz. In May 2017, Schwartz stated that the film would feature "at least two" new songs. On August 31, 2018, Universal put the film on hold, due to production scheduling, and gave the film adaptation of Cats, which became a box office bomb, the release date formerly held by the film. On February 8, 2019, Universal announced a new release date of December 22, 2021, for the Wicked film. On April 1, 2020, Universal put the film on hold once again due to Universal shifting release dates amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and gave Sing 2 the 2021 release date. On October 20, 2020, it was announced that Daldry had left the production due to scheduling conflicts. Deadline reported on February 2, 2021, that Jon M. Chu had signed on to direct the film adaptation. Stephen Schwartz then, gave out an update according to WhatsOnStage on July 2, 2021 that filming will begin later this year in Georgia.
15th anniversary tribute special
In October 2018, an NBC broadcast, A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway, was hosted by Menzel and Chenoweth and featured Ariana Grande, Pentatonix, Adam Lambert, Ledisi, the current Broadway company of the musical and others, singing many of the musical numbers from Wicked to a live studio audience at the Marquis Theatre in New York. The concert special was directed by Glenn Weiss.
In 2021, Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) aired a Wicked concert special, which was also hosted by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel.
Awards and nominations
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. 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. The same year, the show won 6 Drama Desk Awards out of 11 nominations, including Outstanding Musical, Book, Director and Costume Design.
Subsequent productions have received awards and nominations as well. The West End production received 5 Laurence Olivier Award nominations and later won the Audience Award for Most Popular Show at the 2010 award ceremony. 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. 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.
In its out-of-town tryout in San Francisco, audience reaction was generally positive, and although critics tended to compliment the aesthetic and spectacle of the show, they disparaged the state of its book, score, and choreography. 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 while Karen D'Souza of the San Jose Mercury News wrote that "Style over substance is the real theme in this Emerald City."
The Broadway production opened on October 30, 2003, to mixed reviews from theatre critics. However, Chenoweth and Menzel received widespread acclaim for their performances as Glinda and Elphaba, respectively. 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." Elysa Gardner of USA Today described it as "the most complete, and completely satisfying, new musical I've come across in a long time." 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. 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."
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. 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". 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."
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. With a $14 million capitalization, the Broadway production took 15 months to break even, earning back its initial investment by December 21, 2004. In its first year, it grossed more than $56 million. 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. It has gone on to break its own record numerous times, reaching $1,715,155 in November 2006, $1,839,950, during the 2007 Christmas week, $2,086,135 for the week ending November 29, 2009, $2,125,740 just a few weeks later for the eight performances ending January 3, 2010, and over $2.2 million in the week ending January 2, 2011. 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. In the final weekend of 2013, Wicked became the first musical to gross $3 million in one week.
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. 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), and St Louis ($2,291,608), to bring the collective gross of the seven worldwide productions to a world record-breaking $11.2 million. 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.
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. With an opening-week gross of $1,400,000, it continually set records and became the longest-running Broadway musical in Chicago history. 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." In addition, over 2.2 million saw the touring production in its first two years, which grossed over $155 million The Los Angeles production grossed over $145 million and was seen by more than 1.8 million patrons. Over the 672 performances of the San Francisco production, Wicked sold over 1 million tickets with a cumulative gross of over $75 million. While the Broadway production of Wicked welcomed its 5 millionth audience member on September 29, 2010.
International productions of Wicked have matched the extremely positive reception at the box-office. Although West End theatres do not publish audited weekly grosses, 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. 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; The same reports stated that the show has consistently been one of the two highest-grossing shows in the West End. For the week commencing December 27, 2010, the London production grossed £1,002,885, the highest single-week gross in West End theatre history, with over 20,000 theatregoers attending the nine performances of Wicked that week. 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. On April 27, 2009, the production passed the milestone of 500,000 patrons. 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.
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. 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. The original production still runs today and currently stands as the 6th longest-running Broadway show in history. Wicked celebrated its 1,000th performance on Broadway on March 23, 2006. Several other productions have also reached the 1,000th performance milestone, including the first North American touring company on August 15, 2007, the Chicago company on November 14, 2007, the West End company on February 14, 2009, the Australian company on May 7, 2011 and the second North American touring company on August 4, 2011.
Behind the Emerald Curtain
The success of the Broadway production has led to the development of an auxiliary show, Behind the Emerald Curtain, which was created by Sean McCourt—an original Broadway production cast member who played the Witch's Father—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, Lindsay K. Northen. 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. To create Elphaba's green skin look, 40 pots a year of the commercially available MAC Chromacake landscape green make-up is used. It is water-based for easy removal.
In popular culture
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. For filming purposes, the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles doubled for the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway in Ugly Betty in an episode titled "Something Wicked This Way Comes" in which Betty, the show's protagonist, goes to see Wicked on a date and accidentally stops the show. In the previous episode "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;
Entertainer John Barrowman sang a version of "The Wizard and I" (retitled "The Doctor and I) on his 2008 tour of the UK, with adapted lyrics referring to his Doctor Who and Torchwood character Jack showing affection for The Doctor. Kerry Ellis, who played Elphaba in the West End and on Broadway, recorded "I'm Not that Girl" for 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, 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" on her debut album The Reason (2013). Rapper Drake and singer Mika both sampled the musical's song in their songs "Popular" and "Popular Song" respectively.
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, and was sung by the original Elphaba Idina Menzel. Willemijn Verkaik voiced the Dutch and German versions of the role of Elsa in Frozen and sang "Let It Go" in these two languages. This became another role originally played by Idina Menzel that Verkaik played, following her success in the German, Dutch and English language productions of Wicked. When Frozen came to Broadway, the song "Monster" (sung by Cassie Levy, who also played Elphaba) was compared to "No Good Deed"
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- Official production sites
- Official UK Facebook Page
- Official UK Twitter Profile
- Wicked at the Internet Broadway Database
- Wicked at Playbill Vault
- Wicked at MusicalSchwartz.com, the official Stephen Schwartz fan site
- Wicked song lyrics, Allmusicals
- 9 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Wicked the Musical