If you were on Broadway Oct. 30, 2003, you may have been fortunate enough to catch the first performance of the Stephen Schwartz-Winnie Holzman musical Wicked at the Gershwin Theatre. When it closes on Broadway next year, it will have had more than 700 performances and 12 previews, and fans who missed seeing it there will have ample opportunities to catch it at theaters in Chicago (Ford Center for the Performing Arts’ Oriental Theatre) and Los Angeles (Pantages Theatre). In addition, the show’s National Tour continues, and beginning in January, 2009, the musical will have an extended run in San Francisco at the Orpheum Theatre. The Pantages production closes that same month on Jan. 9, 2009. There is talk that much of the set will be utilized in the San Francisco effort.
“Wicked” has gone on to be a top performer in ticket sales, breaking box office records around the world. In London’s West End, it took in more than £100,000 (about $200,000) in the first hour tickets were on sale to become the biggest opening there on record. According to published reports more than 1.2 million people saw the London production, while the North American tour has been seen by more than 2 million people.
Although critics were initially cool to it, the show went on to receive ten Tony Award nominations in 2004 and won the award for Best Actress, Scenic Design and Costume Design. It went on to win six Drama Desk Awards.
The show is based on the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire, which in turn is based on the Oz stories by Frank L. Baum. It tells the story of two witches of Oz: Glinda and Elphaba. Hoping to take up sorcery, they meet at a school called Shiz. Glinda is popular and Elphaba isn’t happy about it and to make matters worse, they are roommates. But they sort it all out as their life paths keep crossing. They eventually go to Emerald City and meet the Wizard.
Casting for the new San Francisco production, where original tryouts were held for the Broadway show, has not been announced. Joe Mantello will direct, and musical staging will be by Wayne Cilento. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz with libretto by Winnie Holzman.