Fans of “The Wizard of Oz” will be enticed by the story of two witches who start out as friends and end up as L. Frank Baum’s famous Wicked Witch of the West and Good Witch of the North. This trip to Broadway is a modern-day look at the city of Oz and the characters that inhabit it.
The idea for “Wicked” started when composer Stephen Schwartz, creator of hits like “Godspell” and “Pippin,” read the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel titled “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” Maguire wrote his book to serve as a parallel to Baum’s infamous turn-of-the-century tome “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Upon investigation, Schwartz found that Universal was planning to make a film based on the same book. Schwartz saw its potential as a stage production instead of a movie. With some negations, he convinced the studio heads that “Wicked” was much better suited for the musical arena of Broadway.
Apparently, the critics agree. The first run brought the cast members, director, choreographer, producers and Schwartz 10 Tony Award nominations (winning three awards), six Drama Desk Awards and one Grammy. More recently, “Wicked” won the Laurence Olivier Award and garnered six Helpmann Awards to add to its list of accomplishments.
“Wicked” is told from the view of the two famous witches. Purchasers of “Wicked” tickets will see this epic story unfold beginning in the teen years as the witch Elphaba deals with her own low self-esteem and peer pressure regarding her emerald-green skin. Elphaba develops a friendship with another young witch, Galinda, who would later change her name to Glinda.
Unlike “The Wizard of Oz,” “Wicked” covers more than just Dorothy’s visit from Kansas. The story starts years before and delves into the politics of Oz, the conflicting personalities of both Elphaba and Galinda and their adult lives as they pursue of the same love interest. “Wicked” picks up the story of Dorothy and follows it as she goes off to find the Wizard. Viewers will hear many of the same references to characters and locations as found in the original film musical from 1939. “Wicked” offers a revisionist peek into the more sordid side of the Emerald City.
Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for “Wicked” while the story for the stage adaption was developed by writer Winnie Holzmann. The musical producers include Universal Pictures, Marc Platt and David Stone. Joe Mantello was chosen to direct and the original choreography for Broadway was done Wayne Cilento.
Anyone who loves the old story of Oz should find this tale just as entertaining, if not more. Purchasing “Wicked” tickets in New York City will open the door to the 12th-longest running Broadway show in history. From beginning to end, “Wicked” takes its audience down that enchanted yellow brick road with this modern version of a classic tale.