Show Guide: Everything You Need to Know About ‘Wicked’ the Musical
So much happened before Dorothy dropped in, and Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel has taken the world by storm with its big ballads and heartfelt story of true friendship between the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. The musical takes us behind the curtain back to the witches school days and we discover why they were changed for good. With 10 Tony Award nominations and four Olivier Award nominations, “Wicked” is a bonafide Broadway hit.
What Is ‘Wicked’ About?
“Wicked” tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch before they became who they are in “The Wizard of Oz” as a prequel to that classic story. We meet the young witches at school at Shiz University, where Elphaba, the “Wicked Witch,” is going to school with her younger sister Nessarose. Nessarose uses a wheelchair, and their father wants Elphaba to watch over her. There, they meet headmistress Madame Morrible, who takes a shine to Elphaba when she realizes she might have special powers. Glinda and Elphaba are roommates at school after a mixup in the housing process, and while they two start out hating each other, they grow to see how they can help each other.
However when the Winkie prince Fiyero arrives at school, both Glinda and Elphaba have a crush on him, which starts to create a divide in her friendship. Elphaba’s politically minded actions and magical powers take her all the way to Oz to meet the Wizard, but when she learns that he might not be as magical as she thought, a smear campaign tarnishes her name throughout the land. Only you can truly decide what being wicked means.
A History of Wicked
It takes a long time for a Broadway musical to actually make it to New York and “Wicked” is no different. Here’s a look at what it took to get the story to the stage.
- Composer Stephen Schwartz read Gregory Maguire’s novel on vacation and immediately thought the story should be onstage, and he secured the rights, along with Universal producer Marc Platt.
- Schwartz and Winnie Holzman, along with Platt, teamed up to sketch an outline of what the musical would be—both working from Maguire’s original book and creating a new structure for the stage.
- The story and musical was developed over a series of readings and workshops. Schwartz wrote the role of Glinda with Kristin Chenoweth in mind, and she played the role from the readings through to Broadway. Stephanie J. Block played Elphaba in the readings and workshops before Idina Menzel was cast for Broadway.
- “Wicked” had its world premiere in San Francisco in May 2003. The creative team made a series of changes to the show to prepare it for Broadway, including recasting the Wizard. Robert Morse played the role in San Francisco, and Joel Grey played the role in the original Broadway cast.
- “Wicked” opened on Broadway on October 30, 2003 at the Gershwin Theatre, where it still plays on Broadway.
Who Wrote ‘Wicked’? Who Is on the ‘Wicked’ Creative Team?
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, “Wicked” has a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. Here is a list of the Broadway creative team.
- Stephen Schwartz – The composer and lyricist wrote the songs for the musical, and his other credits include “Pippin,” “Working,” “Godspell,” and “Children of Eden.”
- Winnie Holzman – Holzman is a screenwriter and poet, and “Wicked” is her only Broadway credit.
- Joe Mantello – Mantello is a director and actor who has performed in “The Normal Heart,” “The Glass Menagerie,” and “Angels in America” on Broadway. His Broadway directing credits include “Glengarry Glen Ross,” “Other Desert Cities,” “Take Me Out,” “Assassins,” and more.
- Eugene Lee – Lee won the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a musical for his set design for “Wicked.”
- Susan Hilferty – Hilferty won the Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical for her work on “Wicked.”
Who Is In the Cast of ‘Wicked’? Who Are the Characters in ‘Wicked’?Several actors have taken on the iconic roles of Elphaba, Glinda, Fiyero, Madame Morrible, and more. Here’s a look at the cast of characters as well as the actors who have played them.
- Elphaba – Elphaba is the misunderstood Wicked Witch of the West. Idina Menzel originated the role on Broadway and in the West End, and she won a Tony award for her performance. Other actors who have played the role include Shoshanna Bean, Stephanie J. Block, Ana Gasteyer, Lindsay Mendez, Eden Espinosa, Mandy Gonzalez, Caissie Levy, Jessica Vosk, and more.
- Glinda – Known as the “Good Witch” in “The Wizard of Oz,” Glinda is the popular girl at school who learns about the world over the course of the show. Kristin Chenoweth originated the role on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony. Helen Dallimore originated the role in the West End, and Kendra Kassenbaum played the part on the first national tour. Megan Hilty, Kara Lindsay, Annaleigh Ashford, Laura Bell Bundy, Katie Rose Clarke, Jennifer Laura Thompson, and more have played the role.
- Fiyero – The shallow Winkie prince becomes a thoughtful supporter of Elphaba’s cause over the course of the musical. Norbert Leo Butz played the role in the original Broadway cast, and Adam Garcia originated the role in the West End. Actors who have played the role include Aaron Tveit, Taye Diggs, Derek Klena, Kyle Dean Massey, and Sebastian Arcelus.
- The Wizard – Just like in the classic tale, the Wizard is not the all-powerful person that he seems. Joel Grey originated the role on Broadway, and Nigel Planner played the part in London. Other actors who have played the role include Ben Vereen, David Garrison, George Hearn, Peter Scolari, and more.
- Boq – Boq is the munchkin who is in love with Glinda and ends up taking Nessarose to the Ozdust Ballroom to appease Glinda. Christopher Fitzgerald originated the role on Broadway and James Gillan starred in the original West End production. Alex Brightman, Robin de Jésus, Andy Mientus, and Taylor Trensch have also played the role.
- Nessarose – Nessarose is Elphaba’s sister, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the East. Michelle Federer played the role in the original Broadway cast, and Katie Rowley Jones played the role in the West End. Jenna Leigh Green, Arielle Jacobs, and Kelli Barrett are among those who have played the role.
- Madame Morrible – Madame Morrible is the headmistress at Shiz University, and she also starts working with the Wizard. Carole Shelley originated the role on Broadway, and Miriam Margolyes played the role in the original West End cast. Carole Kane, Rue McClanahan, Rondi Reed, Judy Kaye, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Nancy Opel, and more have played the role.
What Songs Are In ‘Wicked’?
Schwartz wrote some of his most popular songs for “Wicked,” from the Act 1 finale “Defying Gravity” to the heartfelt duet “For Good,” which has become a staple at graduations. The original cast album was released in December 2003, and it won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2005.
Here is a list of the songs from “Wicked.”
“No One Mourns the Wicked” – Glinda, Witch’s Father, Witch’s Mother, Midwife, Ensemble
“Dear Old Shiz” – Ensemble
“The Wizard and I” – Morrible, Elphaba
“What is this Feeling?” – Galinda, Elphaba, Ensemble
“Something Bad” – Dr. Dillamond, Elphaba
“Dancing Through Life” – Fiyero, Galinda, Boq, Nessarose, Elphaba, Ensemble
“Popular” – Galinda
“I’m Not That Girl” – Elphaba
“One Short Day” – Elphaba, Glinda, Ensemble
“A Sentimental Man” – The Wizard
“Defying Gravity” – Elphaba, Glinda, Company
“No One Mourns the Wicked” (reprise) – Ensemble
“Thank Goodness” – Glinda, Morrible, Ensemble
“The Wicked Witch of the East” – Elphaba, Nessarose, Boq
“Wonderful” – The Wizard and Elphaba
“I’m Not That Girl” (reprise) – Glinda
“As Long As You’re Mine” – Elphaba, Fiyero
“No Good Deed” – Elphaba
“March of the Witch Hunters” – Boq, Ensemble
“For Good” – Glinda and Elphaba
“Finale” – Elphaba, Glinda, Company
How Many Productions of ‘Wicked’ Have There Been?
There have been productions of “Wicked” all across the world, with long-running productions in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, London, and Australia. Here are some of the biggest productions of “Wicked.”
- San Francisco. “Wicked” had its world premiere at the Curran Theatre in May 2003 and closed in June. The creative team worked on making changes to the show before coming to New York.
- Broadway. The Broadway production of “Wicked” started performances at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, where it has been running ever since. It was nominated for 10 Tony Awards.
- Chicago. “Wicked” had a sit-down production in the Windy City directly following the first national tour. The musical ran at the Oriental Theatre through January 2009.
- Los Angeles. The musical played at the Pantages Theatre February 2007-January 2009. The cast featured Megan Hilty as Glinda and Eden Espinosa as Elphaba.
- San Francisco. “Wicked” was at the Orpheum Theatre from February 2009 to September 2010.
- London. “Wicked” opened in the West End at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in September 2006, and there were some minor changes to dialogue and other aspects for a British audience.
- Australia. “Wicked” opened at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne in July 2008 and closed there in August 2009 before transferring to Sydney’s Capitol Theatre in September 2009 and closed in September 2010 before launching an Australian tour.