In stories, a typical formula is a conflict between two characters: the hero and the villain. The hero saves the day and is the epitome of goodness. On the other hand, the villain is the cautionary character bent on destroying the hero and has evil deeds as the primary motive.
One of the beloved classics, The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz, is among the enduring fantasy tales with unforgettable conflicting characters. Apart from the Wizard, Dorothy and her three companions (the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion), the dynamics of Glinda the Good Witch and The Wicked Witch of The West are interesting. The two are polar opposites of each other. Glinda represented all that is good and served as the guide of the story’s hero, whereas The Wicked Witch of The West was the villain with hideous intentions.
The two are the perfect examples of the polar opposite common of the hero-villain dynamics. But what if there was more between these two conflicting characters? What if The Wicked Witch of the West is capable of more than wickedness? These questions are answered in Wicked The Musical. This musical challenged the narrative that pitted the two characters and rewrote their prequel. Wicked breathes a story of a strong bond and discovering people that allows you to belong. This heartfelt reiteration becomes “the untold story of the witches of Oz.” A staple musical in theatres, Wicked comes to the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans to offer theatre fans an experience of a lifetime — a gravity-defying one!
“‘Wicked’ brings humor, heart, and spectacle to an age-old tale.” – The Spokesman-Review
“If every musical had a brain, a heart, and the courage of Wicked, Broadway really would be a magical place.” – Time
The idea behind the transformative premise of Wicked is writer Gregory Maguire. Maguire was interested in the Wicked Witch of the West and how her villainy is a good way of expressing his thoughts about evilness. In 1995, the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was published. The first people that paid attention to the book were Universal Pictures, and they bought its rights, planning to create a movie out of it. In the following years, when the film was not pushed, another individual took notice of the potential of the novel, who is composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz. In 1998, Schwartz convinced Maguire to grant the rights to a stage adaptation while pleading with Universal producer Marc Platt to make his intended transformation a reality. Persuaded, Platt agreed to serve as the project’s joint producer alongside Universal and David Stone. Winnie Holzman, who had written many hit TV series, was then tasked to write the book of the musical. Joe Mantello would, later on, join the team to direct the stage adaptation.
Wicked, described as Maguire’s commentary on morality and evil, takes place before Dorothy arrives in Oz. The story revolves around Elphaba, a bright, fiery, misunderstood girl with emerald skin. She went on to become the Wicked Witch of the West. The other main character is Galinda, a stunning blonde and popular girl who eventually becomes Glinda the Good Witch. Events, characters, and situations from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L Frank Baum and its 1939 film adaptation have been updated for the story, divided into five scenes. The story is meant to get the viewer to open their eyes and think about what it means to be vile or wicked, in the Wicked Witch’s case. The plot would like the audience to consider if having positive intentions but adverse outcomes is the same as having harmful choices but undesirable outcomes.
Through a series of readings, the musical’s book, lyrics, and score were developed. In the production team’s mind were great stage actresses to do the readings. Their pick for Glinda was Kristin Chenoweth, fresh from winning the Tony Award for “Best Featured Actress” in a Musical for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. She was Schwartz’s inspiration for the character, and the music was made for her. She joined the team starting on the developmental workshops. Before Idina Menzel began taking up her iconic role as Elphaba in late 2000, Stephanie J. Block joined the workshops as Elphaba. She would later play the character on the musical’s first national tour and also in one of its Broadway runs. During these early works, David Stone started organizing the Broadway production.
“Built on songs by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, the show is steeped in talent.” – The New York Times
In 2003 when the production was all ready, Wicked did pre-Broadway Tryouts at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. Later that year, it premiered at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. The musical was a blockbuster hit and continuously sold out through the years. It has reached a record-breaking 6,681st performance and beat Les Misérables as the fifth-longest-running show on Broadway.
In 2004, the original musical run received ten Tony nominations. It won three, including “Best Actress in a Musical” for Idina Menzel’s role as Elphaba, “Best Scenic Design,” and “Best Costume Design.” At that same year’s Drama Desk Awards, it won “Outstanding Musical,” “Outstanding Lyrics,” “Outstanding Book of a Musical,” “Outstanding Director of a Musical,” and three other awards. In 2005, it won the Grammy Award for “Best Musical Show Album.”
Because of the Broadway production’s popularity, other performances, including a stalwart West End production, were produced worldwide. Many productions reached box office records in the cities of Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London, among many others. Wicked also smashed records everywhere in the world. In fact, the musical was famous for having significant economic impacts on the cities it has been showing.
Today, it is not challenging to miss Wicked in pop culture. It is among the popular sources of references on many TV shows and movies, animated and live-action, and other Broadway productions. Reviewers see connections with films such as Maleficent and Frozen. Its women-empowering lead cast also influenced other shows, such as the musical adaptation of Mean Girls.
On November 29 to December 7, the legendary musical comes to the Saenger Theatre. Lissa Deguzman as Elphaba, Jennifer Newberry as Glinda, Lisa Howard as Madame Morrible, John Bolton as The Wizard, Michael Genet as Doctor Dillamond, Kimberly Immanuel as Nessarose, Jordan Litz as Fiyero and Jake Perderson as Boq are all part of the stellar cast to witness on this production. Take the chance to see this iconic theatre production. Buy your tickets early to reserve the best seats in the venue.