Wicked (musical)

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Broadway Poster
Music Stephen Schwartz
Lyrics Stephen Schwartz
Book Winnie Holzman
Based upon Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked
Productions 2003 San Francisco tryout
2003 Broadway
2005 First National Tour
2005 Chicago
2006 Universal Studios Japan
2006 West End
2007 Los Angeles
2007 Tokyo
2007 Stuttgart
2008 Melbourne
2009 San Francisco
2009 Second National Tour
Awards Drama Desk Outstanding Musical
Drama Desk Outstanding Book
Drama Desk Outstanding Lyrics
Grammy for Best Cast Album

Wicked is a musical with songs and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. The story is based on the best-selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a parallel novel of L. Frank Baum's classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz.

Wicked tells the story of Elphaba, the future Wicked Witch of the West and her relationship with Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. (In the album notes, Gregory Maguire explained that he derived the name "Elphaba" from the initials of L. Frank Baum.) Their friendship struggles through their opposing personalities and viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, their reactions to the Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's public fall from grace. The plot is set mostly before Dorothy's arrival from Kansas, and includes several references to well-known scenes and dialogue in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz as a backstory.

The musical debuted on Broadway on October 30, 2003. It was produced by Universal Pictures and directed by Joe Mantello, with musical staging by Wayne Cilento. Its original stars were Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard.[1] Although the production received mixed reviews and was panned by The New York Times, it has proved to be a favorite among patrons. The Broadway production's success spawned productions in Chicago, Los Angeles, London's West End, Tokyo, Melbourne, and Stuttgart, along with two North American tours that have visited over 30 cities in Canada and the United States.[2]

Wicked has broken box office records around the world, holding weekly-gross-takings records in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London, and the record for biggest opening in the West End (£100,000 in the first hour on sale).[3] The West End production has played to more than 1.4 million people, and the North American tour has been seen by over two million patrons.[4] The show was nominated for ten 2004 Tony Awards, winning those for Best Actress, Scenic Design and Costume Design. It also won six Drama Desk Awards.


[edit] Development

Stephen Schwartz discovered the 1995 Maguire novel while on holiday and immediately realized its potential for dramatic adaptation.[5] Schwartz met Maguire in Connecticut in 1998 and persuaded him to release the rights for a stage production.[6]

Schwartz considered how best to condense the novel's complicated plot into a sensible script.[6] 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.[7] While the draft followed Maguire's idea of retelling the story of the 1900 children's book 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."[8] 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."[9] In addition to this change in focus, changes include Fiyero's appearance as the scarecrow, Elphaba's survival at the end, Nessarose's using a wheelchair instead of being born without arms, and Doctor Dillamond not being murdered.[10]

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,[11] joined the project as Glinda. Stephanie J. Block read the role of Elphaba before Idina Menzel was cast in the role in 2001. In early 2000, the creators recruited David Stone, the New York producer, to begin the transition to a full Broadway production. Joe Mantello was brought in as director, and by April 2003 he had assembled a full cast, and the show was prepared for a public production.[11]

[edit] Production History

On May 28, 2003, Wicked opened for a pre-Broadway tryout at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.[12] 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, and Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible.[11] Stephanie J. Block also served as an ensemble member and understudy for Elphaba, while Laura Bell Bundy was understudy for Glinda.[13] The musical staging was created by Wayne Cilento. Tony Award-winning designer Eugene Lee created a 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.[11] 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."[11] The trial run closed on June 29 and extensive retooling for Broadway began.[11] Elements of the book were rewritten and several songs underwent minor transformations. One song from the pre-Broadway version was scrapped before the musical opened on Broadway. Entitled "Which Way Is the Party?” it was replaced by "Dancing Through Life"; each was used to introduce the character Fiyero.[11]

The Broadway production began previews at the George Gershwin Theatre on October 8, 2003, and officially opened on October 30.[1] Most of the production team and original cast members remained with show when it opened on Broadway, but Robert Morse was replaced by Joel Grey who was billed over the title, William Youmans replaced John Horton in the role of Doctor Dillamond, and Christopher Fitzgerald replaced Kirk McDonald as Boq.[11][14]

[edit] Synopsis

Glinda (Kristin Chenoweth) (Original Broadway Cast)

[edit] Act I

After the Overture, the citizens of Oz gather to celebrate the death of the Wicked Witch of the West ("No One Mourns the Wicked"). Glinda descends in her bubble to confirm the circumstances of the Witch's melting by Dorothy. The scene then shifts to a flashback of the birth of the green-skinned Elphaba Thropp. Elphaba suffers an unhappy childhood, facing discrimination because of her skin color and being raised only by her widowed father, the Governor of Munchkinland. At Shiz University, Elphaba first encounters Galinda, a spoiled and popular Uplander ("Dear Old Shiz"). Madame Morrible, the headmistress of Shiz, has decided that since Elphaba's younger sister, Nessarose, is in a wheelchair and the favorite daughter of Governor Thropp, it would be best for her to share Morrible's accommodations. No arrangements have been made for Elphaba, and Galinda accidentally offers to share her private suite. Elphaba is angry, as she has always looked after her sister. When Morrible tries to wheel Nessarose away, Elphaba uses her uncontrollable powers to bring her sister back to her. This impresses Morrible, who notes that Elphaba's talents may be of use to the Wizard of Oz ("The Wizard and I"); she promises to give Elphaba private sorcery lessons. Galinda is jealous and takes an immediate dislike to Elphaba; Elphaba takes a similar dislike to Galinda ("What Is This Feeling?").

Doctor Dillamond, a Goat and Shiz University's only Animal professor, is teaching history class when it is interrupted by an anti-Animal slogan on the back of his blackboard. After dismissing the class, he confides in Elphaba that something is causing the Animals of Oz to lose their powers of speech ("Something Bad").

Elphaba (Kerry Ellis) and Galinda (Dianne Pilkington) (London)

Fiyero, a Winkie prince, arrives at Shiz and immediately impresses his own brand of cavalier, carefree living on the students, organising a party at a local ballroom. While preparing for the dance, Galinda discovers a black pointed hat in a box. Knowing that the hat is hideous, she gives it to Elphaba, who is under the impression that it is a present. Galinda convinces a Munchkin student named Boq to take Nessarose to the party, more to avoid unwanted attention from Boq than out of any desire to be kind. Nessa has a crush on Boq and is so overjoyed to be invited that she asks Elphaba if there is any way to repay what she perceives as Galinda's kindness. At the dance, Galinda is surprised by the appearance of Morrible, who gives her a training wand and tells her that Elphaba insisted she be included in the sorcery seminar. Elphaba arrives wearing the hat Galinda had given her, only to be ridiculed and laughed at. Nevertheless, she defiantly proceeds to dance alone without any music. Feeling guilty, Galinda joins Elphaba on the dance floor ("Dancing Through Life"), marking the start of a new friendship between the two. After the dance, Galinda and Elphaba talk in their room. Elphaba reveals that her father hates her because of her green skin and that he had forced her mother to eat milk flowers to ensure that Nessarose was not born the same. The milk flowers caused Nessa to be born early, crippling her, and their mother had died in childbirth. Moved by a desire to help her new friend, Galinda decides to give Elphaba a makeover and to make her popular ("Popular").

The next day, evil Ozian officials take Doctor Dillamond away. The new history teacher arrives with a frightened lion cub in a cage, revealing that Animals that are kept in cages will never learn to speak. Outraged, Elphaba casts a spell that causes everyone (except for Fiyero) to go into involuntary gyrations. Together, Elphaba and Fiyero steal the cub and set it free in the woods. There is a hint of romance between the two, but Fiyero leaves, embarrassed. It begins raining, and Elphaba takes refuge under a bridge and regrets that it would be impossible for someone like Fiyero to love someone like her ("I'm Not That Girl"). Madame Morrible finds Elphaba and announces that she has been granted an audience with the Wizard. At the railway station, Galinda and Fiyero see Elphaba off to the Emerald City. Galinda complains to Elphaba that Fiyero's affections toward her seem to be waning. In an attempt to impress him, Galinda announces that she will change her name to "Glinda" in honor of Doctor Dillamond's persistent mispronunciation. Fiyero does not appear to notice and, feeling bad for Glinda, Elphaba invites her along to see the Wizard.

Elphaba (Stephanie J. Block) singing "Defying Gravity" (U.S. national tour)

After a day of sightseeing in the Emerald City ("One Short Day"), Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard. He immediately reveals his true self to them and invites Elphaba to join him as his personal assistant ("A Sentimental Man"). As a test, he asks that she give his Monkey servant, Chistery, the ability to fly using the Grimmerie, an ancient book of spells. Elphaba demonstrates her innate magical talent and successfully gives Chistery wings. The Wizard reveals an entire cage full of monkeys who now also have wings because of Elphaba's spell, and remarks that they will make good spies to report any subversive Animal activity. Realizing that she has been used and that the Wizard has no power of his own, Elphaba runs away with the Grimmerie, pursued by the palace guards.

Elphaba and Glinda run into the tallest tower, where they witness Morrible, revealed to be the Wizard's press secretary, declaring to all of Oz that Elphaba is a "Wicked Witch" who is not to be trusted. Elphaba enchants a broomstick to levitate and tries to convince Glinda to join her in her cause, but Glinda refuses. Leaving behind the only friend she ever had, Elphaba rises into the sky on the broomstick, promising to fight the Wizard with all of her power. ("Defying Gravity").

[edit] Act II

Some time has passed, and Elphaba's exploits have earned her the title "The Wicked Witch of the West" ("No One Mourns the Wicked (Reprise)"). Glinda and Madame Morrible hold a press conference to announce Glinda's surprise engagement to Fiyero ("Thank Goodness").

Meanwhile, Elphaba arrives at the governor's residence in Munchkinland seeking refuge, reluctantly trying to ask her father for help. But Nessa, now the governor of Munchkinland, harshly reveals that he died of shame due to Elphaba's actions at the Emerald City. Nessa refuses to help hide a fugitive, citing her status as an unelected official, and criticizes Elphaba for not using magic to help Nessa overcome her disability. To assuage her feelings of guilt, Elphaba enchants Nessa's jeweled shoes, turning them from silver to ruby red and enabling her to walk. Boq, who is now Nessa's servant, is summoned and reveals that a ball is being held for Glinda and Fiyero's engagement and he must go tell that his heart lies with Glinda. Furious, Nessa casts a mispronounced spell from the Grimmerie, causing Boq's heart to shrink. While Elphaba attempts to save him, Nessa reflects on how her obsession with Boq has led her to oppress the Munchkin people ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). Elphaba saves Boq by turning him into the Tin Woodman – horrified, Nessa lays the blame on Elphaba.

Elphaba (Eden Espinosa) and Nessarose (Jenna Leigh Green) (Los Angeles)

Elphaba returns to the Wizard's palace to free the rest of the winged monkeys. The Wizard attempts to regain her favor by agreeing to set them free ("Wonderful"). Upon discovering a now-speechless Doctor Dillamond among the monkeys, Elphaba rejects his offer and attempts to escape, running into Fiyero in the process. Confirming his true love for Elphaba, he runs off with her. Glinda sees this and is crestfallen that she has been betrayed by those closest to her ("I'm Not That Girl (Reprise)"). Glinda, hurt and furious by Elphaba's betrayal, suggests to Madame Morrible to endanger Nessa, a surefire way to lure Elphaba into a trap. Madame Morrible agrees and creates a cyclone to put Nessa in danger. Glinda, on the other hand, is oblivious to the fact that Madame Morrible is actually trying to harm Nessa.

In a dark forest, Fiyero and Elphaba express their mutual and passionate love ("As Long as You're Mine") but are interrupted when Elphaba senses that her sister is in danger. She flies off to help but is too late, arriving just after Dorothy's house has landed on Nessa, killing her. Elphaba becomes frustrated and confronts Glinda for giving Nessa's shoes to Dorothy, and a fight ensues. The palace guards arrive and ambush Elphaba, but Fiyero intervenes and tells them to "Let the green girl go!" allowing Elphaba to escape before surrendering himself. The guards take him to a nearby cornfield to be tortured until he tells them where Elphaba has fled. At one of Fiyero's castles, Elphaba tries to cast a spell to save Fiyero's life but, thinking she has failed, she begins to accept her notorious reputation as "wicked" ("No Good Deed").

Glinda (Kate Reinders) and Elphaba (Ana Gasteyer) part (Chicago)

Meanwhile, Boq and the citizens of Oz prepare a witch-hunt ("March of the Witch Hunters"); Boq claims that Elphaba turned him into the Tin Woodman as an act of evil, while the lion cub that Elphaba and Fiyero freed at Shiz is also at the gathering and turns out to be the "Cowardly" Lion. His cowardice is blamed on Elphaba, because "if she had let him fight his own battles when he was young", he wouldn't be so fearful to that day. Seeing the witch-hunt, Glinda realizes that Madame Morrible was behind Nessa's death. But the mad press secretary reminds her that she wanted this in the first place and tells her to "smile and wave and shut up!". Glinda travels to Elphaba and Fiyero's castle to persuade her to let Dorothy go, but she refuses. Elphaba makes Glinda promise not to clear her name and to take charge in Oz. She agrees, and the two confirm a true friendship ("For Good"). As the mob arrives at the castle, Dorothy throws a bucket of water on Elphaba, apparently melting her, while Glinda leaves with the Grimmerie.

In recapitulation, it is revealed that the Wizard is actually Elphaba's father. Glinda orders the Wizard to leave Oz in his balloon, and sends Morrible to prison, before preparing to address the citizens of Oz, returning to the opening scene of the show. Meanwhile, Fiyero, whom Elphaba had turned into the Scarecrow, opens a trap door in the castle; Elphaba, very much alive, emerges, and the two are reunited. Fiyero tells Elphaba that if the two of them want to be safe, no one must ever know that she is alive. Glinda addresses the citizens of Oz, proclaiming that she would like to be "Glinda the Good" as she will reform the government. Elphaba and Fiyero leave Oz, as Glinda celebrates with the citizens of Oz ("Finale").

[edit] Principal roles

Character[15] Voice[15] Description
Elphaba (later, The Wicked Witch of the West) mezzo-soprano with belt An intelligent, misunderstood girl with green skin who finds an unexpected friend in Galinda and falls in love with Fiyero. Her rebellion against the Wizard, after finding out who he truly is, frames her into the name "The Wicked Witch Of The West". After feeling hopeless, even after all her good deeds and intentions, she realizes she will never be able to clear her name and gives in to the name that Oz has created for her.
Galinda (later Glinda the Good) soprano Beautiful and ambitious, she initially seems vain and superficial, though her friendship with Elphaba reveals more depth in her character. She later changes her name from "Galinda" to "Glinda" in honor of Doctor Dillamond's persistent mispronunciation and to impress Fiyero. Glinda is a social climber and seizes the opportunity to join the Wizard despite his fraudulence, who decrees that she be known as "Glinda the Good."
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz baritone The illegitimate dictator of Oz appears fatherly and brands himself a "sentimental man," but he is secretly the driving force behind the oppression of Oz's Animals. The Wizard realizes at the end of the story that he is in fact the father of Elphaba after Glinda presents him with the green elixir bottle Elphaba always carried around. The Wizard had an affair with Elphaba's mother while Elphaba's father was away on business
Madame Morrible contralto The sinister headmistress of Shiz University who is revealed to be working in collaboration with the Wizard of Oz. Morrible has a magical talent for controlling the weather.
Fiyero (later turned into The Scarecrow) tenor A handsome prince with a "scandalacious" reputation, who is formerly attracted to Galinda. That quickly diminishes after his choice to have a relationship with Elphaba. Fiyero is initially shallow and self-absorbed, but his encounters with Elphaba cause him to re-evaluate his way of thinking. Elphaba transforms Fiyero into the Scarecrow when Ozian guards take him away to be beaten after he defends Elphaba. He is saved from a painful death, but cursed to live forever, unable to feel physical pain.
Nessarose (later, The Wicked Witch of the East) mezzo-soprano Elphaba's insecure, spoiled, crippled younger sister. Though heavily dependent on Elphaba, is also embarrassed by her sister. She develops an obsessive attachment to Boq while at Shiz even though he does not return the feeling. After becoming the governor of Munchkinland by default, she abuses her authority to keep him near her, earning her title, " The Wicked Witch of the East."
Boq (later, the Tin Woodman) tenor A Munchkin who has eyes for Galinda but is instead forcibly attached to Nessarose against his will. This prevents him from telling Galinda his true feelings for her. Eventually he is enslaved and forbidden from leaving Munchkinland when Nessarose strips the Munchkins of their rights. Boq is transformed into the Tin Woodman after Nessarose mispronounces a spell with the intentions of gaining his true love. His heart begins to shrink, and Elphaba turns him into a creature that "won't need a heart."
Doctor Dillamond baritone A Goat, and the only Animal professor left at Shiz University, Doctor Dillamond is a victim of the Wizard's Animal Suppression Policy. Elphaba is fond of him, but he is taken away from Shiz after the Wizard decrees that Animals are no longer permitted to teach. Doctor Dillamond eventually loses his ability to speak altogether.

[edit] Music

The score of Wicked is heavily thematic, bearing in some senses more resemblance to a film score than a traditional musical score.[16] While many musicals' scores develop 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,[16] 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,[16] the first – Elphaba's theme – came from The Survival of St. Joan, on which he worked as musical director.[16] "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.[16] 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 terrorising you".[16] 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.[16]

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'".[16] 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.[17] In "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.[16]

[edit] Musical numbers

Act I [11]
  • No One Mourns the Wicked – Glinda, Father, Mother, Midwife, and the Citizens of Oz
  • Dear Old Shiz – Glinda, and the Students of Shiz University
  • The Wizard and I – Madame Morrible and Elphaba
  • What Is This Feeling? – Galinda, Elphaba, and the Students of Shiz University
  • Something Bad – Doctor Dillamond and Elphaba
  • Dancing Through Life – Fiyero, Galinda, Boq, Nessarose, Elphaba, and the Students of Shiz University
  • Popular – Galinda
  • I'm Not That Girl – Elphaba
  • One Short Day – Elphaba, Glinda, and Citizens of the Emerald City
  • A Sentimental Man – The Wizard
  • Defying Gravity – Elphaba, Glinda, and the Citizens of Oz
Act II [11]
  • No One Mourns the Wicked (reprise) – The Citizens of Oz
  • Thank Goodness – Glinda, Madame Morrible, and the Citizens of Oz
  • The Wicked Witch of the East – Nessarose, Elphaba, and Boq
  • Wonderful – The Wizard and Elphaba
  • I'm Not That Girl (reprise) – Glinda
  • As Long as You're Mine – Elphaba and Fiyero
  • No Good Deed – Elphaba
  • March of the Witch Hunters – Tin Woodman and the Citizens of Oz
  • For Good – Elphaba and Glinda
  • Finale – Glinda, Elphaba, the Citizens of Oz, and Company

[edit] Response

[edit] Critical reception

The Broadway production opened on October 30, 2003, to mixed reviews from theatre critics.[18][19] While Menzel and Chenoweth received nearly unanimous praise for their performances as Elphaba and Glinda, the plot was derided as "muddled", and the sound quality in the massive Gershwin Theatre as "smearing".[20][21] 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."[22]

The West End production opened to a similarly ambivalent, if slightly more upbeat, critical reception. Although The Daily Telegraph described it as "at times... a bit of a mess," it praised Holzman's script, described Kenneth Posner's lighting design as "magical" and lauded Menzel and Helen Dallimore (as Glinda).[23] The Guardian gave it three out of five stars and remarked on the competence of all the lead actors; however, it also 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".[24]

[edit] Awards

Wicked was nominated for ten of the 2004 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book, Best Orchestration and twice for Best Leading Actress, for Menzel and Chenoweth.[25] Menzel won the Best Actress award, and the show also won the Tony Awards for Best Scenic Design and Best Costume design, although it lost the Best Musical award to Avenue Q.[26] In the same year, the show won six Drama Desk Awards out of eleven nominations, including in the Book, Director and Costume Design categories.[27][28] The West End production was nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards in 2007 but did not win any.[29]

[edit] Financial success

With a $14 million capitalization, the Broadway production earned back its initial investment by December 21, 2004.[11] In its first year it grossed more than $56 million.[30] The production has been playing to capacity crowds for almost every recent performance (even to the extent that the sold out sign is nailed to the theater) and grosses more than a million dollars every week according to reports published by Playbill.[31] In the week ending January 1, 2006, Wicked broke the record, previously held by The Producers, for the highest weekly box office gross in Broadway history, earning $1,610,934.[32] Wicked broke its own record in the week ending November 26, 2006, when it grossed a total of $1,715,155.[33] The Broadway production broke its own record again in the week ending December 30, 2007, grossing $1,839,950. That week the show also broke its own weekly gross records in Los Angeles ($1,949,968), Chicago ($1,418,363), and in St. Louis ($2,291,608), as the seven worldwide productions of the show grossed a collective $11.2 million.[34]

The Broadway company of Wicked celebrated its 1,000th performance on March 23, 2006.[35] The touring company reached 1,000 performances on August 15, 2007,[36] while the Chicago company celebrated its 1,000th show on November 14, 2007.[37]

Although West End theatres do not publish audited weekly grosses,[38] the London production of Wicked claims to hold the record for highest reported one-week gross at £761,000, achieved in the week ending December 30, 2006.[39][40] On June 23, 2008, the producers reported that over 1.4 million people had seen the London production since its opening, grossing over £50 million.[41] Per the same reports, the show has consistently been one of the two highest-grossing shows in the West End.[40]

[edit] Popular culture

The extraordinary success of Wicked has made several of the songs popular and engendered references to the show, characters, and songs in popular culture. 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.[42][43] The production itself has been featured in episodes of television programs, including Brothers & Sisters and The War at Home.[44] In an episode of Ugly Betty ("Brothers"), Betty gets tickets to see Wicked, discussing with a friend how much she relates to Elphaba's outcast status in a popularity and beauty-oriented environment.[45] In a later episode ("Something Wicked This Way Comes"), Betty goes to see Wicked on a date and accidentally stops the show.[46] Although Betty attends the Broadway production, the episode is shot primarily in Los Angeles: the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood doubled for the Gershwin Theatre for filming purposes.[47] On the March 8, 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live, Amy Adams and Kristen Wiig kicked off the episode singing the song "What Is This Feeling?" In the episode of "The Dinner Party" on The Office, Michael and Jan are arguing. Michael screams, "When I wanted to see 'Stomp' and you wanted to see 'Wicked,' what did we go see?" Jan meekly replies, "We saw 'Wicked'." The musician and actor John Barrowman has been singing a version of The Wizard And I on his 2008 UK tour, with adapted lyrics referring to his Doctor Who and Torchwood character Jack's affection for The Doctor.

[edit] 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 and Anthony Galde, two members of the original Broadway ensemble, the show features a ninety minute behind-the-scenes tour of the props, masks, costumes and sets, led by cast members, who also take part in a question-and-answer session.[48] Behind the Emerald Curtain is currently only in New York City but in the future will accompany Wicked productions in other cities. [49]

[edit] Productions

2003 Broadway production

The Broadway production consistently been one of the two highest weekly grossing shows since its opening and has grossed over $1 million every week.[50] Notable replacements have included Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa, Ana Gasteyer, Julia Murney, Stephanie J. Block, Kerry Ellis, Marcie Dodd, and Nicole Parker as Elphaba; Jennifer Laura Thompson, Megan Hilty, Kate Reinders, Kendra Kassebaum, Annaleigh Ashford, and Alli Mauzey as Glinda; Kristoffer Cusick, Taye Diggs, Joey McIntyre, David Ayers, Sebastian Arcelus, and Aaron Tveit as Fiyero; George Hearn, Ben Vereen, David Garrison, and Lenny Wolpe as The Wizard; Rue McClanahan, Carol Kane, Jayne Houdyshell, Miriam Margoyles and Rondi Reed as Madame Morrible; Jenna Leigh Green as Nessarose; Randy Harrison and Robb Sapp as Boq; and Sean McCourt and Timothy Britten Parker as Doctor Dillamond.

2005 First US National Touring production

Wicked launched its first national tour in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 8, 2005. Since then it has visited numerous cities throughout North America.[11] 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. Notable replacements have included Julia Murney, Shoshana Bean, and Victoria Matlock as Elphaba; Megan Hilty and Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda; Sebastian Arcelus, Cliffton Hall, Richard H. Blake as Fiyero; Carole Shelley and Alma Cuervo as Madame Morrible; Lenny Wolpe as the Wizard; and Deedee Magno as Nessarose.

Over 2.2 million people saw the touring production in its first two years, and it grossed over $155 million.[4] The tour has played to capacity crowds at almost every performance,[4] with tickets for four-week engagements selling out in as little as seven hours.[4] The touring company celebrated its 1,000th performance on August 15, 2007 in Philadelphia.[36] In the week ending December 30, 2007 the production took in $2,291,608 in St Louis, Missouri, the highest weekly gross in North American touring history.[51]

2005 Chicago production
The Oriental Theatre, Chicago, where Wicked has played over 1,000 performances

The first non-Broadway sit-down production of Wicked opened in Chicago, Illinois at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre on July 13, 2005. In its first week, the show grossed $1,400,000. It has continued to set records, becoming the longest running Broadway musical in Chicago history,[37] and is considered a key part of the booming Chicago theatre scene.[52] The limited engagement from April 29 to June 12 2005 with the original touring cast was extended to an open-ended run.[53]

During the Chicago run, the 2005 touring cast has been gradually replaced by local actors.[54] 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 of Oz.[54] Notable Chicago cast replacements have included Kristy Cates, Dee Roscioli, and Lisa Brescia as Elphaba; Erin Mackey, Kate Fahrner, and Annaleigh Ashford as Glinda; Ben Vereen and David Garrison as the Wizard; Brad Bass as Fiyero; Carole Shelley and Barbara Robertson as Madame Morrible; and Timothy Britten Parker as Doctor Dillamond.

During the 2007 Christmas holiday season, the production broke its own Chicago box office record with a gross $1,418,363.24 for the week ending December 30, 2007.[55] Producer David Stone commented on the unanticipated success of the production in Variety magazine, saying "To be honest, we thought it 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."[56] The Chicago production played its 1,000th performance on November 14, 2007.[57] 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.[57][58]

The production closed on January 25, 2009 after over 1,500 performances.[59]

2006 Universal Studios Japan production

The theme park Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, Japan presents a 35-minute theme park version of Wicked, which began performances on July 12, 2006. It focuses mainly on Elphaba and Glinda's relationship, but also includes the Wizard, Chistery and a standby for the role of Elphaba (as all other productions do). Fiyero, Nessarose, Madame Morrible, and Doctor Dillamond are absent from the production. The production generally uses American and Australian actresses to play Elphaba, while Japanese actresses play Glinda. The show is performed three times a day, with 3 actresses sharing the role (each one performing once a day). This version is performed mostly in Japanese, with portions in English.[60]

The Apollo Victoria Theatre, the home of Wicked in London
2006 London's West End production

The first international production of Wicked previewed on September 7, 2006 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London's West End with an official opening of September 27, 2006. The West End production reunited the show's original creative team with its Tony Award-winning star, Idina Menzel.[61] Other original London cast members included Australian 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. Replacements have included Kerry Ellis and Alexia Khadime as Elphaba, Dianne Pilkington as Glinda, Oliver Tompsett as Fiyero, Susie Blake and Harriet Thorpe as Madame Morrible, Desmond Barrit as the Wizard, and Caroline Keiff as Nessarose.

The run has now been extended to 3 April 2010. On 14 February 2009 Wicked celebrated it's 1000th performance in London.[62]

The production was slightly tailored for a British audience, including minor creative changes to dialogue, choreography, and special effects. In the same fashion as the modifications that were made for the US/Canada tour, most of these changes were later incorporated into all productions of Wicked.[63]

2007 Los Angeles production

Wicked launched its fifth open-ended production in Los Angeles, California at the Pantages Theatre. Performances began on February 10, 2007, with an official opening on February 21. All but two of the principals had previously performed their roles in another production – representatives from the Broadway, Chicago, and touring productions made up most of the original cast, with Eden Espinosa and Megan Hilty in the leads as Elphaba and Glinda, respectively.[64] Other original cast members included 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. Replacements have included Caissie Levy and Teal Wicks as Elphaba, Erin Mackey as Glinda, Jo Anne Worley as Madame Morrible, and David Garrison as The Wizard. Adam Lambert, a finalist from season eight of American Idol, performed as the understudy for Fiyero in the Los Angeles production.

In the week ending on March 4, 2007, the show grossed $1,786,110 and became the highest-grossing attraction in Los Angeles theatre history, taking the record from The Producers, which had set the record in June 2003 at the same theatre.[65] In the week ended December 30, 2007, Wicked set a new box office record of $1,949,968 in Los Angeles.[51] During the week ending January 4, 2009, WICKED again set the Los Angeles single week record with a gross of $2,579,944.50 with nine performances. During the final week of the run, Wicked again played at capacity, grossing $2,291,511.50, breaking its own record for a regular eight-performance week. The average weekly gross during the show's run at the Pantages was over $1,450,000 per week. In the end the production grossed over $145 million and was seen by more than 1.8 million patrons.[66]

The production closed on January 11, 2009 after 791 performances and 12 previews.[67]

2007 Tokyo production

Wicked opened its first non-English production in Tokyo, Japan on June 17, 2007, with previews starting on June 15, 2007. Numao Miyuki and Hamada Megumi played Glinda and Elphaba in the original Tokyo production. The Shiki Theatre Company at the Dentsu Shiki Theatre "Umi" produces it. The production has a Japanese and Chinese cast and is performed entirely in Japanese.[60]

2007 Stuttgart production

Wicked: Die Hexen von Oz ("Wicked: The Witches of Oz") premiered November 15, 2007, at the Palladium Theater in Stuttgart. Willemijn Verkaik and Lucy Scherer headline the production as Elphaba and Glinda, and Mark Seibert plays Fiyero (who has since been replaced by Matthais Edenborn). Wicked has become one of Germany's top musicals.[68] A recording of this production was released on December 7, 2007. The Stuttgart production of Wicked closes on January 30, 2010 and will be replaced by the reproduction of Tanz der Vampire (Dancing Of The Vampires) [69].

2008 Melbourne production

An open-ended Australian production of Wicked officially opened on July 12, 2008 with previews commencing June 27 at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.[70][71] Australians Amanda Harrison and Lucy Durack play Elphaba and Glinda respectively. They are joined by Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Rob Guest as The Wizard, Rob Mills as Fiyero, Anthony Callea as Boq and Penny McNamee as Nessarose.[72] The Australian production has also broken box-office records, selling 24,750 tickets in just three hours during pre-sales and grossing over $1.3 million worth in ticket sales on the first business day after its official opening.[73]

Rob Guest (The Wizard) died suddenly on October 2, 2008 after suffering a major stroke the previous day.[74] After Guest's passing, Rodney Dobson (Doctor Dillamond) played the Wizard with Anton Berezin (Elphaba's father) taking over his role, until favourite television personality Bert Newton stepped in as Guest's replacement, which allowed Dobson and Berezin to return to their original roles. On January 13, 2009, Stuart Fisher took over the role of Boq[75] after Callea left the show to pursue his singing career.

Wicked has been so successful in Australia that producer John Frost confirmed it would be staying in Melbourne for all of 2009, with no plans to come to Sydney any time soon.[76] Frost said, "I can’t see it moving from Melbourne inside the next 12 to 18 months. It has exceeded my expectations."

2009 San Francisco production

SHN, which allows Broadway shows to use their theatres in San Francisco, confirmed in April 2008 that Wicked, which did a trial run in San Francisco, will return to the Bay Area. An open-ended engagement began previews on January 27, 2009 and officially opened on February 6, 2009 at the Orpheum Theatre.[77] The cast features all principal actors who have previously played or understudied (in Dromard's case) their roles. Teal Wicks and Kendra Kassebaum lead the cast as Elphaba and Glinda. The company also features Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, David Garrison as The Wizard, Nicolas Dromard as Fiyero, Deedee Magno as Nessarose, Tom Flynn as Doctor Dillamond, and Eddy Rioseco as Boq.[78][79] On March 24, 2009, Patty Duke replaced Carol Kane as Madame Morrible who by March 22, 2009 came to the end of her limited-engagment with the production. Recently, Teal Wicks (Elphaba) has been straining her voice in the role, as a result she has been forced to take a break from Wicked. Elphaba is now being played by standby, Vicki Noon, with Merideth Kaye Clark as the standby Elphaba. Teal is thought to resume performances in Late April.

2009 Second US National Touring production

A second tour of the United States and Canada began on March 7, 2009 at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, FL. The original cast stars Helene Yorke as Glinda, Marcie Dodd as Elphaba, Colin Donnell as Fiyero, Kristine Reese as Nessarose, Marilyn Caskey as Madame Morrible, David de Vries as Doctor Dillamond, Ted Ely as Boq, and Tom McGowan as the Wizard.[80]

The tour will play until March 29 at the Florida venue, before traveling to Birmingham, Jacksonville, Norfolk, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Omaha and Memphis. Additional cities and casting will be announced later. In a statement Wicked producer Marc Platt said, "Theatregoers across North America have embraced Wicked, creating an overwhelming demand for tickets and a wildly successful 1st North American tour. The upcoming launch of this second touring company will allow us to bring Wicked to markets which we have not yet been able to visit, as well as return to cities which have been asking for a second (or third) engagement". [81]

[edit] Recordings

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".[82] The music was arranged by Stephen Oremus, who was also the conductor and director, and James Lynn Abbott, with orchestrations by William David Brohn.[82] The recording received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2005[83] and was certified platinum by the RIAA on November 30, 2006.[84]

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.[85]

Although a London cast recording has been discussed, none has been recorded. It has also been noted that if a West End recording were to be released, Elphaba would be played by Kerry Ellis, the original London standby, rather than Idina Menzel who originated the part both on Broadway and in the West End.[86]

The Japanese cast recording was released on July 23, 2008, featuring the Original Tokyo cast.[87]

A fifth-anniversary special edition of the original Broadway cast recording was released on October 28, 2008, with a bonus CD featuring alternate versions of the songs, including tracks from the Japanese and German cast recordings, "I'm Not That Girl" by Kerry Ellis and Brian May, Menzel's dance mix of "Defying Gravity", and "For Good" sung by LeAnn Rimes and Delta Goodrem.[88]

[edit] Notes

  • ^Animal  – When capitalized, "Animal" is used throughout the musical and Maguire's novel to refer to talking creatures. When begun with a lower-case letter, "animal" refers to creatures that have lost or never had the power of speech. This capitalization applies for species as well as for the generic term; for instance, the book's character Doctor Dillamond is a Goat, being a goat with the ability of speech, while a goat would be the same as a non-fictional goat.

[edit] References

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