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Welcome to WickedUK
:: Wizomania ::

» Show History
» Synopsis
» Scene Breakdown
» Song Breakdown

:: Show History ::

Like most blockbuster musicals, Wicked began life as a workshop production, with Stephanie J Block, Adam Garcia and Kristin Chenoweth creating the characters of Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), Fiyero and Glinda (the Good) respectively.

It was during these workshop sessions that these characters, and others, came to life, discovering just what motivated them and what could ultimately destroy them. Vocals were thrashed out, alterations to the book and score were made, but by the end, the fundamental building blocks for Wicked, as we know it today, were born. Finally, the producers had a show with the potential to be a smash-hit Broadway production.

However, before Wicked could grace the boards of Broadway, it needed a trial run to see just how well audiences would respond to this ‘alternate’ look into the Land of Oz that had been immortalised by the 1939 MGM film starring Judy Garland. So, in the summer of 2003, Wicked - The Musical opened in San Francisco’s Curran Theatre. The short run starred Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth and Norbert Leo Butz as Elphaba, Galinda and Fiyero. Overwhelming success and support of the musical secured its move to Broadway.

Between leaving San Francisco and arriving in New York, several roles were re-cast, most notably that Joel Grey was brought in as the Wizard, replacing Robert Morse. Learning from the previous production, the necessary alterations and changes were made, and on October 30th 2003, the night before Halloween, Wicked - The Musical officially opened at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.

In 2004, the Tony Awards brought many nominations of this new production, including having both leading ladies, Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel, up for Best Actress in a Musical. But on the night, only one lady could win, and that was Idina Menzel. Unfortunately, later in the evening Wicked lost out to Avenue Q for the coveted Best Musical Award.

Wicked thrashed all Broadway box office records, continuing to sell out night after night, achieving some of the highest grossing box office figures Broadway has ever seen. The show was a hit, and it did not take long for the producers to get wise to the show’s popularity, and start contemplating taking the show to new places. And that’s just what they did.

The first, and probably most logical step, was to take Wicked on the road, bringing it to people across the United States who would otherwise not have the opportunity to see the show. So, in March 2005, the tour began with a run in Toronto, Canada, before heading back across the board and touring the States, which it continues to do to date.

One of the most significant stops for the tour was in Chicago, Illinois, where, as with the other cities they had visited, they received a very warm welcome and excessive demand for tickets. By mid-2005, it was decided that the success of the Broadway show and the touring production warranted a second sit-down production, outside of New York. Chicago was the lucky city, and on 24th June 2005, the show opened officially at the Ford Center for Performing Arts and continues to play to sold out audiences.

Universal, the money behind Wicked - The Musical, have also taken a keen interest in the show, and commissioned a shortened, condensed version of the show for their theme park based in Japan. The show is very different from the full scale productions, with limited set, costumes, dialogue and songs, but one of the most noticeable differences is that the running order of scenes is completely different. You will also find that the show is spoken and sung, half in English and half in Japanese, making for an interesting performance to anyone who cannot understand both languages! A copy of the production is available on YouTube*.

Having conquered the States (and Asia with 'mini-Wicked'), it was time to go global at full-scale. Enter London. From one Theatreland to another - London’s West End. For months there was rumour and speculation, innuendo, outuendo… as to whether the production would jump the Atlantic and open in the glittering hub of London’s West End. In December 2005, the decision was made and announced to the world, that as of September 2006, Wicked would take up residence at London's Apollo Victoria Theatre.

Shortly after that, one of the biggest moments for Wicked was confirmed - original Elphaba, Idina Menzel, had agreed to come to London to reprise her role as the green witch for a limited 3-month run. Previews began on 7th September 2006, with official opening night taking place on 27th September 2006. The final show of the year was Idina’s last as the London Elphaba, ending the year on a very high, and quite sad, note. Then, 1st January 2007 saw the first ever British Elphaba, Kerry Ellis, take over the role.

While Wicked has not always received positive acclaim from it’s critics, either in New York or in London, the public continue to prove them wrong. So much so, that a third permanent production is currently underway in Los Angeles, California. The show opens in 2007 with Eden Espinosa as Elphaba (ex-Broadway and Tour Elphaba), Megan Hilty as Glinda (ex-Broadway and Tour Glinda) and Kristoffer Cusick as Fiyero (ex-Broadway and Chicago Fiyero).

With productions now in North America, Europe and Asia, the Wicked phenomenon is spreading across the world. Rumours for additional international productions are already circulating, and it is only a matter of time before a few more green girls start appearing around the world.

* Recordings are off the live show version at Universal Studios, Japan, where recording of the performance IS permitted.


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