Audiences on Broadway and worldwide have grown to love the green-skinned Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Expanding on Frank L. Baum’s original story, “The Wizard of Oz,” the production team of David Stone and Marc Platt are riding a broomstick aloft as Wicked continues to enjoy sellout crowds here at home. It has been playing at the 1,809-seat Gershwin Theatre for almost five years and in two other venues in Chicago and Los Angeles. A touring company rounds out its popularity; it has grossed more than $155 million and played to more than 2.2 million people in its first two years.
“Wicked” has consistently grossed over a million dollars a week on Broadway. At the end of the week of January 1, 2006, it broke all records for the highest weekly box office gross including the record previously held by “The Producers,” earning $1,610,934. It went on to break its own record in the week ending November 26, 2006, grossing $1,715,155. Cumulatively, the Broadway venue has grossed more than $350 million while merchandising has brought in another $100 million.
Worldwide, the musical has broken the billion-dollar barrier grossing more than $1.2 billion, which is more than any of Universal Studio’s top five films including “Jurassic Park,” which earned more than $923 million worldwide (not counting sales of DVDs and other sources of revenue). Universal is one of the producers of “Wicked” and looks forward to a screen version somewhere down the road. There are four international productions playing in London, Tokyo, Stuttgart and Melbourne and a fifth is expected to open in The Netherlands in 2011.
The story develops between Elphaba and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. Setting most of the story in the time before the arrival of Dorothy from Kansas, it brings timeless themes to the stage: rivalry, friendship, government corruption, sacrifice and love. The book is by Winnie Holzman with Joe Mantello directing, based on the novel by Gregory Maguire.
Following its debut on Broadway on October 30, 2003, it was nominated for ten Tony Awards in 2004 and won in the categories of Best Actress, Costume Design and Scenic Design. It won six Drama Desk Awards as well, and the music won a Grammy for best cast album as well.