|The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz|
Official poster of the original Broadway production
|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
2005 First US Tour
2006 West End
2009 Second US Tour
2013 UK and Ireland Tour
Various international productions (see below)
|Awards||Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical
Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Broadway Musical
Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is a 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, an alternative telling 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 it 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 public 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 April 2003. 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 six Drama Desk Awards, while its original cast album received a Grammy Award.
Wicked celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway on October 30, 2013. On February 14, 2016, Wicked performed its 5124th performance with a 2PM matinee, making Wicked the 10th longest-running Broadway show, passing Rent. A typical performance runs for approximately two hours and 30 minutes, plus a 15-minute 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 1998 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. The West End production and the North American tour have each been seen by over two million patrons.
- 1 Inception and development
- 2 Plot
- 3 Cast
- 4 Musical numbers
- 5 Music and recordings
- 6 Productions
- 7 Film adaptation
- 8 Response
- 9 In popular culture
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Inception and development
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. Maguire, however, had released the rights to Universal Pictures, who 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 realise 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 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. 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, and Doctor Dillamond not being murdered.
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 Stephen 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 1st National Tour and joined the Broadway cast later on) 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. 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.
On May 28, 2003, the first 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. 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." Noting mixed response, the creative team started making extensive changes, tweaking it before its transfer to Broadway. 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."
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 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". In addition, there was concern that Menzel's Elphaba "got a little overshadowed" by Chenoweth's Glinda. 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", so the creative team set about making her character "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. 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." On October 30, 2003, the musical opened on Broadway.
The Ozians are cheering that the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, is dead ("No One Mourns the Wicked"). Glinda arrives and an Ozian asks her if she and Elphaba were friends. She admits that they knew each other, which surprises all of the Ozians, leading Glinda to tell them the story of how they became best friends. She also tells them her name was Galinda before she changed it. A flashback starts with a scene in a school, Shiz, where Elphaba arrives. Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) was the daughter of the governor of Munchkinland - but it is heavily implied that she is the product of an affair between the governor's wife and a mysterious stranger and his bottle of "green elixir." Elphaba was born with green skin. Her father despised her and showered his affection on her younger sister, Nessarose, who is confined to a wheelchair. The two sisters both go to Shiz University, where the pretty and popular Galinda is also in their class ("Dear Old Shiz"). As their father says goodbye, he gives Nessarose a pair of silver slippers. The headmistress, Madame Morrible, decides to take Nessarose under her protection, despite Elphaba's objections. Elphaba is now without a roommate and ends up with Galinda, to the disgust of both. Elphaba attempts to take back her sister as she is wheeled away, and her frustration manifests itself physically in an explosion. Madame Morrible recognizes that she has special powers and decides to teach her sorcery - and to teach no one else, even though Galinda had her heart set on studying with magic at school. She even tells Elphaba that her powers might allow her to work with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, something which Elphaba has dreamed of ("The Wizard and I").
All of this does little to endear Elphaba to Galinda and the feeling is mutual ("What is this Feeling?"). They clash constantly, even in their classes, such as their history class with Dr. Dillamond. Dr. Dillamond is the only Animal professor at the university and is beginning to suffer from discrimination, even from the students, which is shown when someone writes "Animals should be seen and not heard" on the chalkboard. He tells Elphaba that there is a conspiracy to stop the Animals from speaking, and she wants to let the Wizard know, for he would surely stop it ("Something Bad").
Meanwhile, a young roguish prince, Fiyero, has arrived at Shiz. Galinda is charmed when Fiyero shares his life philosophy ("Dancing Through Life"). They all decide to have a party that evening. Boq, a Munchkin that has developed a crush on Galinda, tries to invite her to the party, but she convinces him instead to ask Nessarose out of pity, leaving her free to go with Fiyero. Nessarose is delighted and tells her sister how she and Boq are meant to be together and how Galinda helped it happen. When Galinda offers Elphaba a hat to wear to the party, Elphaba begins to wonder if she was wrong about her roommate.
At the party that evening, Boq tries to tell Nessarose the real reason he invited her, but is unable to hurt her feelings. She is becoming infatuated with him. Madame Morrible arrives to tell Glinda that she can join her sorcery class, at Elphaba's request. Elphaba herself arrives, wearing the hat Galinda gave her, a witch's hat. The other students laugh and stare while Elphaba awkwardly dances on her own. Glinda feels terrible, and goes to dance with Elphaba. Soon everyone joins them, and the two girls look at each other in a new light.
Back in their room, they continue to bond. Galinda tells Elphaba of her plans to marry Fiyero even though he hasn't proposed and Elphaba confesses that her father blames her for the death of her mother, who died birthing Nessarose. Galinda decides that she will help Elphaba become popular and she gives her roommate the nickname "Elphie" ("Popular"). When Elphaba arrives at class the next day, Fiyero sees Galinda's influence, and tells Elphaba that she doesn't need to change. Dr. Dillamond enters to tell the class that he is leaving - he is no longer permitted to teach. Elphaba wants to help, but no one will stand up with her. The students are introduced to the new technological advancement of the cage, which will keep Animals controlled, so that they never learn to speak. Elphaba's outrage cannot be contained, and in the ensuing chaos, she and Fiyero grab the Lion cub in the cage and escape.
Fiyero is confused about what he has just seen and what he is doing, but he is caught up in Elphaba's passion. She begins to fall in love with him and they share a moment before he has to leave. Elphaba reminds herself that it's pointless to wish for something to happen between them ("I'm Not that Girl"). Madame Morrible comes and tells her that the Wizard has asked to meet her. Nessarose and Glinda come to see her off, and Fiyero meets her too. Galinda is saddened by Fiyero's emotional distance from her, and tries to win his respect by changing her name to "Glinda", in solidarity with Dr. Dillamond, who could not pronounce the first syllable of her name. But Fiyero barely notices, saying goodbye to Elphaba, and it is suggested that her feelings for him are mutual. Elphaba invites Glinda to the Emerald City with her ("One Short Day").
At last, the two girls stand in front of the Wizard. He turns out to be not quite as terrifying as they thought ("A Sentimental Man"). He promises Elphaba that he will grant her request if she proves herself. Madame Morrible appears - she is the Wizard's new "Press Secretary". She gives Elphaba an ancient 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. However, the spell doesn't go the way Elphaba plans when Chistery sprouts wings, and she realizes that the Wizard is the one behind the suppression of the Animals. Elphaba has been tricked, and instead of just performing the spell on one monkey, she actually performed the spell on all of them. Elphaba realizes that the Wizard is not who she thought he was - he has no powers; he is merely a charlatan who cannot read the Grimmerie. He offers her and Glinda everything they've ever wanted if they will help him, but Elphaba is unable to comply. She runs away, and in order to prevent the truth from getting out, Madame Morrible spreads reports that Elphaba is "wicked," not to be trusted, and claims that Elphaba is the one behind the animal mischief. This only reaffirms Elphaba's belief that she must not let anyone hold her down; she must go on her own to do what's best for her. She performs a spell on a broom and flies. ("Defying Gravity").
Some time later, Elphaba's opposition of the Wizard's regime has earned her the title "The Wicked Witch of the West". Glinda has become the smiling public front of the Wizard's regime, given the title "Glinda the Good" and positioned by Morrible as the nation's defender against the Witch. A press conference to celebrate Fiyero's appointment as Captain of the Guard (a position he has accepted in order to find Elphaba) is hijacked by the crowd's panicked rumors about the Witch, including an idiotic story that she will be melted by water. Fiyero is furious and not calmed by Glinda's insistence that Elphaba does not want to be found. He is further shocked when Morrible announces his engagement to Glinda. This is news to Fiyero and he storms off. Glinda attempts to keep a cheerful front for the press, but it is clear she realizes her dream life has come at a great price ("Thank Goodness").
Elphaba pays a visit to Nessarose, who is now the governor of Munchkinland following the death of their father, who Nessarose says "died of shame" when he heard what Elphaba did. Nessarose has taken away the rights of the Munchkins in a desperate attempt to keep Boq at her side. Elphaba tries to convince her sister to side with her against the Wizard, but Nessarose is more concerned with her own problems. Elphaba tries to help by giving Nessarose the power to walk. Convinced that Boq must love her now, Nessarose calls for him, but he only sees this as proof that she doesn't need him any more. Furious, Nessarose takes Elphaba's spell book and tries to cast a spell to make Boq fall in love with her. However, the spell backfires, shrinking Boq's heart and Elphaba must work another spell to save his life, if in a slightly different condition than he was before ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). When Boq awakens, he is horrified at his new state as a man made of tin, and Nessarose tells him it was Elphaba who did this to him.
Elphaba returns to the Wizard's palace to free the monkey servants and comes across the Wizard himself. He tries once again to convince her to work with him, telling her that he is not evil - just a mediocre man who came into his position by chance, led to stay by the reverence of the Ozians, 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. She vows to fight the Wizard until the end. Fiyero and the guards enter, followed by Glinda. Fiyero helps Elphaba escape, and decides to escape with her, leaving Glinda behind. Broken-hearted, Glinda tells the Wizard and Madame Morrible that the way to capture Elphaba is to make her think her sister is in trouble, and she will be sure to come to her rescue. She mourns that Fiyero does not love her ("I'm Not that Girl, Reprise").
Elphaba and Fiyero are both taken by surprise by the strength of their feelings for each other, and promise to be together always ("As Long As You're Mine"). Their happiness is interrupted when Elphaba suddenly has a vision of a house flying through the sky and Nessarose being in pain. Before Elphaba leaves to investigate, Fiyero tells her about a castle that his family owns that she can stay in.
Glinda and Elphaba meet again at the site where Nessarose has been crushed by a house with a girl named Dorothy inside. Fueled by the rivalry over Fiyero, the two have a heated argument. The guards arrive, and Elphaba guesses that Glinda arranged for all of this. Fiyero arrives as well, and holds Glinda hostage until Elphaba can escape. Glinda realizes that Fiyero does truly love Elphaba, and tells the guards not to hurt him, but they don't listen. Elphaba tries to cast a spell to save his life and protect him from injury, but is frustrated by the limitations of her power. She decides that from this point on, she will live up to her reputation as the Wicked Witch of the West ("No Good Deed").
Meanwhile, the citizens of Oz, spurred on by Madame Morrible and Boq's testimony, band together to help rescue Dorothy from the clutches of the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda has realized Morrible, who can control the weather, is responsible for Nessarose's death, but when she confronts her Morrible tells her that there is blood on her hands as well, and advises her to smile and wave. Glinda flees in horror to warn Elphaba as the angry mob sets out to kill Elphaba. ("March of the Witch Hunters"). Elphaba captures Dorothy, refusing to release her until she relinquishes Nessarose's slippers – the only things left of her dead sister. Glinda travels to Elphaba's castle to warn her of the danger and persuade her to let Dorothy go. Elphaba refuses until she suddenly receives a letter saying that Fiyero has supposedly died. 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 of each other ("For Good"). As the Mob Arrives at the Castle Elphaba forces Glinda to hide , and she watches from the shadows as 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 the small bottle of green elixir which she had slept with under her pillow.
Back at the Emerald City, Glinda confronts the Wizard with Elphaba's bottle, which he recognizes as identical to his own. He was Elphaba's biological father, and the cause of her green skin. He breaks down in agony, and Madame Morrible surmises that Elphaba's powers were so strong because she was a child of two worlds. Glinda orders the Wizard to leave Oz and sends Madame Morrible to prison for murdering Nessarose.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, Fiyero (now a scarecrow) comes to the spot where Elphaba was melted. Making sure that no one is observing, he knocks on the floor and out from a trap door steps Elphaba, very much alive; the entire thing was a ruse to convince her enemies of her death and to ensure her future with Fiyero, who was transformed into the scarecrow by her spell. Before leaving, Elphaba regrets that she'll never see Glinda again and tell her that she and Fiyero are alive. Simultaneously, returning to the musical's starting point, Glinda reports to the people of Oz that the Wicked Witch of the West has been killed and promises to properly earn her title as Glinda the Good. As the people celebrate and Glinda mourns, Elphaba and Fiyero leave Oz behind. ("Finale")
|1st National Tour
|2nd National Tour
|Elphaba||Idina Menzel||Stephanie J. Block||Marcie Dodd|
|Glinda||Kristen Chenoweth||Helen Dallimore||Kendra Kassenbaum||Heléne Yorke|
|Fiyero||Norbert Leo Butz||Adam Garcia||Derrick Williams||Colin Donnell|
|The Wizard||Joel Grey||Nigel Planner||David Garrison||Tom McGowan|
|Madame Morrible||Carole Shelley||Miriam Margolyes||Carol Kane||Marilyn Caskey|
|Boq||Christopher Fitzgerald||James Gillian||Logan Lipton||Ted Ely|
|Nessarose||Michelle Federer||Katie Rowley Jones||Jenna Leigh Green||Kristene Reese|
|Doctor Dillamond||William Youmans||Martin Ball||Timothy Britten Parker||David DeVries|
|Elphaba (Standby)||Eden Espinosa||Kerry Ellis||N/A||Carrie Manolakos|
|Glinda (Standby)||N/A||Annalene Beechey||N/A||N/A|
- Kristy Cates began the 1st National Tour as Elphaba on March 8, 2009, while Block was out due to injury, and Block returned to the role on March 25, 2009.
- Victoria Matlock became the first standby for Elphaba on the 1st National Tour on March 8, 2006.
- Laura Bell Bundy became the first standby for Glinda on Broadway in November 2003.
- Neither US National Tour has/had a Glinda standby.
Casts of current productions
|Characters||Broadway||National Tour||West End||Brazil||South Korea|
|Elphaba||Rachel Tucker||Emily Koch||Emma Hatton||Myra Ruiz||CHA JI YEON / PARK HYE NA|
|Glinda||Carrie St. Louis||Amanda Jane Cooper||Savannah Stevenson||Fabi Bang||JEONG SUN AH / IVY|
|Fiyero||Jonah Platt||Jake Boyd||Oliver Savile||Jonatas Faro||MIN WOO HYUK / KO EUN SUNG|
|The Wizard||Peter Scolari||Stuart Zagnit||Mark Curry||Sérgio Rufino||NAM KYOUNG JOO / LEE SANG JUN|
|Madame Morrible||Judy Kaye||Wendy Worthington||Liza Sadovy||Adriana Quadros||LEE JUNG HWA / KIM YOUNG JU|
|Boq||Zachary Noah Piser||Sam Seferian||Daniel Hope||Bruno Fraga||LEE WOO JONG|
|Nessarose||Dawn E. Cantwell||Megan Masako Haley||Katie Rowley Jones||Giovanna Moreira||LEE YEA EUN|
|Doctor Dillamond||Michael Genet||Chad Jennings||Sean Kearns||César Mello||JI HYEGEUN|
|Elphaba (Standby)||Alyssa Fox||Mary Kate Morrissey||Natalie Andreou||Talita Real||N/A|
|Glinda (Standby)||Ginna Claire Mason||N/A||Carina Gillespie||N/A||N/A|
- In January 2005, Saycon Sengbloh took over as the standby for Elphaba and 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.
- Marcie Dodd is the only actress to have been billed in both lead roles of Elphaba and Nessarose when she starred as Elphaba on Broadway after playing Nessarose in Los Angeles.
- Willemijn Verkaik, who created the role of Elphaba for German and Dutch audiences, joined the Broadway production for a limited run in 2013, becoming the first actress to have appeared in three different language productions. Later that year, she transferred to the London company and made her West End debut.
- British Glinda Gina Beck joined the company of the first North American tour only weeks after completing her West End run, making her the first performer to play the role on both sides of the Atlantic.
- Jackie Burns and Rachel Tucker are the longest-running Broadway and West End Elphaba's respectively.
- When Louise Dearman took over as London's Elphaba, she became the first person in the musical's history to play both female leads, having played Glinda in the production from 2010-11.
- Jennifer DiNoia has played Elphaba in four countries (six productions) and became the fourth actress to have played the role on Broadway and in the West End.
- Miriam Margolyes became the first (and only to date) actress to have played Madame Morrible in the West End (original cast) and on Broadway, when she repeated her performance at the Gershwin in 2008.
- Tom McGowan became the first (and only to date) actor to have played The Wizard on Broadway and in the West End, when he joined the London company in 2015.
- Verkaik, Dee Roscioli and Jemma Rix have each performed as Elphaba over 1000 times.
- Danna Paola, the Mexican Elphaba, is the youngest actress to play the role at 18 years old.
- Myra Ruiz, currently playing Elphaba in the Brazilian production, is the second youngest actress to play the role, at 23 years old.
- Katie Rowley Jones has played Nessarose more times than any other actress, having spent seven years in the role (2006-2008, 2012-2017) by the time her contract expires in January 2017.
Music and recordings
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. 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, 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, 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)" 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.
|Production||Venue/Location||Opening Night||Closing Night||Notes|
|San Francisco||Curran Theatre||June 10, 2003||June 29, 2003||Pre-Broadway try-out; Transferred to Broadway|
|Broadway||George Gershwin Theatre||October 30, 2003||Currently running||Original cast recording released|
|1st North American National Tour||Various||March 31, 2005||March 15, 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|
|Chicago||Ford Center-Oriental Theatre||July 13, 2005||January 25, 2009||Transferred to 2nd North American National Tour|
|West End||Apollo Victoria Theatre||September 27, 2006||Currently running||British premiere. First full official production outside the US|
|Los Angeles||Pantages Theatre||February 21, 2007||January 11, 2009||Transferred to San Francisco|
|Tokyo||The Dentsu-Shiki Theatre||June 17, 2007||September 6, 2009||First Japanese-language replica production (cast recording released); Transferred to Osaka|
|Stuttgart||Palladium Theater||November 15, 2007||January 29, 2010||First German-language production (cast recording released); Transferred to Oberhausen|
|Melbourne||Regent Theatre||July 12, 2008||August 9, 2009||First Australian production; Transferred to Sydney|
|San Francisco||Orpheum Theatre||February 6, 2009||September 5, 2010||Second Californian production|
|2nd North American National Tour||Various||March 12, 2009||Currently running||First location: Fort Myers, Florida.|
|Sydney||Capitol Theatre||September 12, 2009||September 26, 2010||Transferred to Australian National Tour|
|Osaka||Osaka Shiki Theatre||October 11, 2009||February 13, 2011||Transferred to Fukuoka|
|Oberhausen||Metronom Theater||March 5, 2010||September 2, 2011|
|Helsinki||Helsinki City Theatre||August 26, 2010||May 4, 2011||First non-replicated production|
|Copenhagen||Det Ny Teater||January 12, 2011||May 29, 2011||Second non-replicated production|
|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|
|Fukuoka||Canal City Theatre||April 3, 2011||August 28, 2011||Transferred to Nagoya|
|Nagoya||Shin Nagoya Musical Theater||September 25, 2011||September 2, 2012|
|Asian National Tour|| Grand Theater, Singapore/
Bluesquare Samsung Electronics Hall
|December 9, 2011||October 7, 2012||English-language production; Transferred to Australasian National Tour|
|Scheveningen||AFAS Circus Theater||November 6, 2011||January 11, 2013||First Dutch-language production|
|Tokyo||The Dentsu-Shiki Theatre||August 3, 2013||November 16, 2014||First revival production|
|UK/IRE National Tour||Various||September 17, 2013||July 25, 2015||First location: Manchester, England
Final location: Salford, England
|Australasian National Tour|| The Civic, Auckland, New Zealand
CCP Main Theater, Manila, Philippines
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth; Australia
|September 21, 2013||June 28, 2015||First location: Auckland, New Zealand.|
|Mexico City||Teatro Telcel||October 17, 2013||January 18, 2015||First Spanish-language replica production.|
|Seoul||Charlotte Theater||November 22, 2013||October 5, 2014||First Korean-language replica production|
|São Paulo||Teatro Renault||March 4, 2016||Currently running||First Portuguese-language, first South American replica production  and the largest stage that has been mounted.|
|Sapporo||Hokkaido Shiki Theatre||May 3, 2016||Currently running|
|Daegu||Keimyung Arts Center||May 18, 2016||Currently running||First Korean-language revival production
Will be transferred to Seoul
|Seoul||Opera Theater at Seoul Arts Center||July 12, 2016||August 28, 2016||First Korean-language revival production|
|First International Tour||The Alhambra Theatre||July 13, 2016||January 21, 2018|
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 while Stephanie J. Block, who originally read the role of Elphaba in workshop development, served as an ensemble member and understudied the lead role. 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, 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, while Eden Espinosa and Laura Bell Bundy were added as standbys for Elphaba and Glinda respectively.
North American productions
In 2005, the first national tour of Wicked (called the "Emerald City Tour" by the producers) started in Toronto, Ontario, and has since visited numerous cities throughout the United States and Canada. 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. After a decade of shows, the tour concluded at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles on March 15, 2015. The tour played 4,160 performances at 124 engagements, and grossed over $790 million (an average of $1.5 million a week). It was seen by 10.3 million people in 55 cities. The closing cast included Jennifer DiNoia as Elphaba, Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda, Nick Adams as Fiyero, Kim Zimmer as Madam Morrible, Tim Kazurinsky as The Wizard, Jenny Florkowski as Nessarose, Tom Flynn as Doctor Dillamond and Etai Benson as Boq.
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. 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. The production closed on January 25, 2009, after over 1,500 performances. The touring production returned to Chicago for a special engagement at the Cadillac Palace Theatre from December 1, 2010 to January 23, 2011. In celebration of the musical's 10th anniversary, the tour played an eight-week return engagement, returning to the Oriental Theatre, from October 30 through December 21, 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. Megan Hilty and original Broadway standby Eden Espinosa were Glinda and Elphaba respectively 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. The production closed on January 11, 2009, after 791 performances and 12 previews. The first national touring production returned to the Pantages Theatre for a limited engagement from November 30, 2011 until January 29, 2012. Another engagement played at the Pantages Theatre for an extended run lasting from December 10, 2014 through March March 15, 2015. 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. 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 672 performances and 12 previews with Marcie Dodd as Elphaba and Alli Mauzey as Glinda. The first national touring company ended their second San Francisco engagement at the Orpheum Theatre, which ran January 23–February 17, 2013.
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. Like the first, this touring production has since visited numerous cities throughout North America. The original cast starred Marcie Dodd 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.
The West End production began previews at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from September, 2005, and officially opened on February 11, 2006. The production is currently booking until November 5, 2016 and celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2011 with a special curtain call featuring former West End cast members. On June 3, 2014, the production became the 10th longest running show in the West End. 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. The changes include Elphaba first meeting Fiyero when he first arrives at Shiz University. In addition, the waltz between Elphaba and the Wizard during Wonderful was removed.
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. 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 on Broadway and in the West End productions.
U.K. and Ireland tour
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. It then played Dublin in 2013, and in 2014, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, Southampton and Edinburgh. In 2015, the tour visited Plymouth, Bristol, Sunderland and Aberdeen, before concluding in Salford on July 25, 2015.
The original cast comprised former West End standby Nikki Davis-Jones as Elphaba, with former ensemble member of the West End production, Emily Tierney, as Glinda. Alongside them were Liam Doyle as Fiyero, Marilyn Cutts as Madame Morrible, Carina Gillespie as Nessarose and George Ure, who was reprising his role as Boq from the West End production. For the first time, the roles of The Wizard and Doctor Dillamond were played by a single actor, Dale Rapley. At the time, the only other actor to play both roles in a single performance was London's David Stoller in November 2008, but this was only due to the absence of several actors.
Another former West End standby, Ashleigh Gray, took 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. Originally, Davis-Jones was due to leave in order to return to the London company and lead its cast, however, it was later announced that, towards the end of her run in August 2014 she had withdrawn from the tour and subsequently would not be appearing in the West End.
The tour is expected to re-launch in July 2016. The show will open with its only UK dates being a 5-week run at the Bradford Alhambra before heading to Asia.
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, 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.
In 2015, CLOC announced a non-professional performance in May 2016 at The National Theatre in Melbourne. The show, which was the Australian amateur premiere, ran from 16 to 21 May 2016. Redcliffe Musical Theatre will stage the Queensland amateur premiere from 29 July to 14 August 2016.
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. 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. 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. The production closed on November 16, 2014. And the Production re-located to Sapporo in May 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, 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 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. 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.
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, 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. 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.
A Dutch-language production began previews at the Circustheater in Scheveningen, 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. 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 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. 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 and Majo Pérez 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. Sebastian Treviño and Estibalitz Ruiz are recurrent Boq and Nessa Understudies and play the roles once a week.
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 Songpa, 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 in São Paulo.
A film adaptation of Wicked had been in talks since 2004, though producers were waiting for a dip in the stage musical's earnings. Since 2012, Universal Studios were reported to be producing the film with Stephen Daldry as director and Winnie Holzman, who wrote the musical's book, to pen the screenplay.
After long development, Universal announced in 2016 that the film will be released in theaters on December 20, 2019. Daldry is still scheduled to direct it, and the script is to be co-written by the musical's creators, Holzman and Schwartz.
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 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.
Subsequent productions have received awards and nominations. 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.
The Broadway production opened on October 30, 2003, to mixed reviews from theatre critics. 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." 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 11th 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, 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. 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.
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; In addition, The Simpsons episode "Donnie Fatso" sees Homer Simpson and Moe Szyslak accidentally sneak into a Springfield production of the show while 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.
The television series Glee has featured covers of songs from Wicked four times: firstly in the "Wheels" episode where two students (Rachel and Kurt) compete for a lead solo, using the song "Defying Gravity", secondly in the "New York" episode where the same students duet on the Gershwin stage and sing "For Good", on the show's 100th episode, where three students sing "Defying Gravity" together and in the series' penultimate episode, the same students sing "Popular". On the show New Girl, a main character (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 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. 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. 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?". 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, 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 Willemijn Verkaik played, following her success in the German, Dutch and English language productions of Wicked.
- Twisted: A musical parody of Disney's Aladdin, telling the story from Jafar's perspective. It makes reference and satirizes elements of Wicked.
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They're going to implement the changes made for [the] London [production of Wicked] in the L.A. company.
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