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Thursday, January 13th, 2011

“Wicked: The Musical” is on its way to becoming the biggest money making franchise in theatre history. Its success is well deserved, as demonstrated at it’s opening in Tucson at UA’s Centennial Hall. However, this popularity is due not only to performing talent, but also to a level of quality control and product improvement.

“Wicked” is the imaginative backstory of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West and her friendship with good witch and fellow student, Glinda. Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” used both L. Frank Baum’s original stories and the 1939 movie, “The Wizard of Oz” as starting points. Maguire described a complex and violent history of events prior to Dorothy’s cathartic arrival from Kansas.

About Wicked Musical – Story:

Opening with a visitation by Glinda just after the death of the Wicked Witch, the story is told in flashback, including Elphaba’s conception and birth. It then jumps to their meeting and accidental pairing as roommates in college, where Glinda is empty-headed and popular and Elphaba is a smart, talented loner, though not necessarily by choice.

Glinda does a self-serving favor for Elphaba’s crippled sister (who will become the Wicked Witch of the East), leading Elphaba to get Glinda her first training wand.

After Elphaba’s radicalization into an animal rights activist and her confrontation with the Wizard, she is branded a terrorist. Glinda, by serving the state in its repression, is officially labeled, “the Good.”

The story of Glinda and Elphaba’s wary friendship, growing gradually into lifelong love and respect, is another dimension, as is Elphaba’s transition from outcast girl who desperately wants in, to empowered woman.

Wicked Cast – Top Performing Stars:

The stars of this production, Vicki Noon as Elphaba and Natalie Daradich as Glinda, are electric, especially in their numerous scenes together. Prior to being selected for this national touring company, they were both standby’s for their respective roles in the show’s 2009 San Francisco production. They were also both in the show’s Los Angeles cast.

Vicki Noon as Elphaba in Wicked

Vicki Noon as Elphaba in Wicked

Vicki Noon brings an incredibly powerful and assured voice. She commands the stage during her solos: giddy and hopeful in “The Wizard and I,” simultaneously vulnerable and courageous in “I’m Not That Girl,” and openly terrifying in “No Good Deed.” She also deftly handles her physical transition from awkward/angry schoolgirl to supernaturally empowered witch.

Actresses playing Glinda have a more difficult character arc, going from comic blonde to tragic leader. Daradich proved herself a master of physical comedy with her annoying perkiness, adroit dancing (both serious and goofy), giggles and girly leg flicks. Leaving the show, groups of girls were laughing as they re-enacted the “hair toss – toss – flutter” moves that she tries to teach Elphaba. As happiness eludes her, Daradich completely sells her tragic aspects with depth and nuance.

Natalie Daradich as Glinda in Wicked

Natalie Daradich as Glinda in Wicked

Natalie Daradich also well-voiced, though her character requires her to use more nasal tone and an excessive vibrato to undercut any potential seriousness. She demonstrated in the emotional final duet with Noon, “For Good,” that any affectation to her singing was a controlled professional choice.

The other cast members, they all do exemplary jobs in their respective parts, but their roles are numerous and minor in comparison to the two leads. However, the overall ensemble deserves mention for their outstanding singing and dancing.

As good as the “Dancing Through Life” scene was, it was dwarfed by the color and extravagance of the Emerald City number, “One Short Day.” The finale, when they have returned to their surrealistic Les Miserable mob style of the opening scene, singing what can only be described as the “Wicked” chord, is as perfect and memorable as an ending gets.

“Wicked: The Musical” has been shrewdly marketed – the franchise practically owns the color formerly known as “chartreuse.” Its quality control is formidable. Casting for all the productions is handled by a centralized company. Costuming, choreography, and set design are standardized. The only concessions to local variance are the venue’s requirements and the inclusion of nine area musicians to augment the touring company’s in-house band.

Wicked Musical will be a Big hit in Tucson AZ, performing through January 23, 2011. Tickets are still available for few shows. Buy Wicked Tucson Tickets Online and Save $10 on Wicked Ticket Orders over $350! Use Code AFF$10.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Salma Hayek is going somewhere over the rainbow for her next project. The actress is producing a new ABC miniseries based on the Oz-inspired book “Wicked.” Wicked, the novel and hit musical, is not getting turned into a movie. Instead it’s going to get its own miniseries from Salma Hayek.

Salma Hayek getting 'Wicked' on ABC

Salma Hayek getting Wicked on ABC

TVLine reports that the eight-hour film — which tells the sympathetic backstory of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West — will differ from the hit Broadway musical in that there won’t be any singing.

In addition, the storyline is expected follow Gregory Maguire’s book more closely. Expect the miniseries to be less of a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” and more of a parallel story, says TVLine.

While Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenowith originated the roles of Elphaba and Galinda (Glinda the Good Witch) in the “Wicked” stage musical, the cast for the ABC project has not yet been announced.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Wicked Musical has claimed the title of top event for the fourth week in a row, according to TicketNews’ exclusive events rankings for the week ending Sunday, January 9. With a power scored of 5.07, “Wicked” dominated the week’s rankings, with its closest competitor, Taylor Swift, coming in with a power score of 2.44.

“Wicked” also led the Top Broadway and Top Theater rankings for the week, power scoring a 26.23 and a 25.02, respectively. Joining “Wicked” in the Broadway rankings was “Jersey Boys” at two (12.40), “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” at three (8.97), and Al Pacino’s limited run of “The Merchant of Venice” at four (8.34). Disney On Ice: Princess Wishes made it into the Broadway rankings at number five (4.41), with “Billy Elliot” and “Lion King” in at numbers seven (2.68) and eight (2.57). The Metropolitan Opera’s “La Traviata” finished the week at nine (2.29), followed by a rare top ten appearance from “American Idiot” at ten (2.26).

TicketNews Exclusive Rankings and Power Scores are based on ticket sales from the TicketNetwork ExchangeTM, the world’s largest secondary market exchange.

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

According to TicketNews’ exclusive venues rankings for the week ending Sunday, December 26, Wicked is in the number one position for the second straight week, power scoring a 6.49. “Wicked” was followed in the rankings by Jersey Boys (two, 2.96), Taylor Swift (three, 2.29) and the 2011 BCS National Championship Game (four, 2.13).

“Wicked” led both the Top Broadway and Top Theater rankings this week, power scoring a 19.72 and 22.79, respectively. “Wicked” was joined on the Broadway list by The Merchant of Venice (two, 12.53), “Jersey Boys” (three, 8.57) and holiday favorite the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (four, 7.37). Plagued by delays and bad luck, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, finished at number five (6.96) this week, followed by Cirque Du Soleil’s Wintuk at six (5.98) and Lion King at seven (4.23). The long running hit musical Phantom of the Opera finished the week at eight (2.45), with Billy Elliot in at nine (2.24) and the holiday production of Elf at ten (2.12).

Following “Wicked” in the Top Theater rankings were “Jersey Boys” (two, 10.79), “West Side Story” (three, 5.62), “The Merchant of Venice” (four, 4.61) and “Lion King” (five, 3.80). This week, Les Miserables made an unusual appearance in the top ten, finishing at number six (3.60). “Billy Elliot” took number seven (3.26), followed by the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” at eight (3.16). Mary Poppins continued its holiday resurgence this week, coming in at number nine (3.02), and “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” ended the week at number ten (2.55).


Sunday, November 28th, 2010

Stephen Schwartz said he doesn’t know for certain why “Wicked,” for which he’s both composer and lyricist, has become such a long-running phenomenon. The musical, which opened on Broadway in 2003, will perform its magic Dec. 1-12 at Miller Auditorium.

Schwartz spoke about “Wicked” and his career while in Kalamazoo in August, when he also gave a talk at the Kalamazoo Civic Auditorium, ahead of its September performance of “Godspell,” and sneaked in a few matches at the U.S. Tennis Association Boys’ National Championship.

“I get these wonderful e-mails, especially from women going through difficult stages of their lives,” Schwartz said. The messages are from people who saw “Wicked,” often more than once, and found the musical “seems to speak to them.”

The song “Defying Gravity,” in particular, inspired them to confront their challenges and take action.

“Wicked,” a tale of two witches in Oz before Dorothy of Kansas showed up, is about the “difference between our perception of people and the reality,” Schwartz said. “So much today is blogs and things taken out of context, us versus them. Life is really not that simple.”

But basically “Wicked” is “the story of these two people.”

“It’s about the relationship between two friends, how another person can change your life,” he explained. “That’s a story not very often told in musical theater, and not so much with women.”

“As our leading producer, David Stone, says, ‘All of us has that green girl inside of us,’” Schwartz said.

What first attracted Schwartz, who studied piano and composition at the Juilliard School of Music and graduated in 1968 from Carnegie Mellon University with a B.F.A. in drama, to this story?

Choosing his projects, he admitted with a grin, often “is like falling in love” — a lot of it is chance. In the case of “Wicked,” he recalled he was on a snorkeling vacation in Hawaii when a friend mentioned she was reading Gregory Maguire’s novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

The coming year will be “very busy” for the composer. Fresh after being honored this summer by the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project for his mentorship of young tunesmiths, Schwartz has turned his attention to a Chicago revival of “Working” (1978), which will boast two new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda of the Tony Award-winning show “In the Heights,” and an opera.

Of his career thus far, he noted, “Even shows that I had trouble with at first” — “The Baker’s Wife,” “Children of Eden,” “Working,” for example — “they haven’t just gone away. People remained interested in them” and they continue to be produced.
“I’ve been very, very lucky.”

Wicked in Kalamazoo, MI
Miller Auditorium presents musical about the complicated and doomed friendship between the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1-2, 7-9; 8 p.m. Dec. 3-4, 10-11; 1 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and 12; 2 p.m. Dec. 2, 4 and 11

Where: Miller Auditorium, Western Michigan University

Buy Wicked Kalamazoo MI Tickets Online

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

On Wednesday, November 10, producer Marc Platt presented creator Stephen Schwartz an award at the matinee of the Broadway musical Wicked celebrating the Grammy-winning Original Cast Recording, which has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), commemorating sales of over two million copies in the United States.

Stephen Schwartz with Double Platinum

Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked features a score by Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. The production is directed by Joe Mantello, with musical staging by Wayne Cilento. It originally opened in 2003.

Actresses Mandy Gonzalez and Katie Rose Clarke, who respectively play the roles of Elphaba and Glinda in the show, were on hand for the presentation.

Marc Platt, Mandy Gonzales, Stephen Schwartz, and Katie Rose Clarke

Marc Platt, Mandy Gonzales, Stephen Schwartz, and Katie Rose Clarke

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The Grammy-winning Original Cast Recording of the Broadway musical Wicked has been certified doubled platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), commemorating sales of over two million copies in the United States.

Based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, Wicked features a score by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. The production is directed by Joe Mantello, with musical staging by Wayne Cilento.

The original cast included Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda), Idina Menzel (Elphaba), Norbert Leo Butz (Fyero), Carole Shelley (Madame Morrible), Joel Grey (The Wizard), Michelle Federer (Nessarose), and Christopher Fitzgerald (Boq).

Wicked is currently playing on tour in Toronto-ON and Little Rock-AR.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

For the fourth week in a row, the hit musical Wicked was once again the top event in TicketNews’ exclusive top events rankings.

The top selling shows in the theater and Broadway rankings continue to be “Wicked“, Jersey Boys, and Lion King. The theater rankings show Billy Elliot and Phantom of the Opera to be popular tickets still, while the Broadway rankings give precedence to Mamma Mia! and Chicago – The Musical. Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets make their appearance on both rankings lists, at number ten.

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Wicked Stage Review by Jeff Ritter, from

Read the review below:

I’ve been privileged to see Grease and Avenue Q at the Fabulous Fox Theatre this year, and enjoyed them both. But I wasn’t terribly surprised in either case — I’ve seen “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on TV more than a few times and I had heard many of the songs from Avenue Q long before I saw the show a couple of years ago. The second time around was still a blast, but the real pleasure was watching the reactions of the stunned newcomers who had no idea what they were in for.

Tonight I was one of those folks, a first time visitor to the land of Oz brought to life on the grand stage. I highly enjoyed the show and can honestly say I’ll never watch the Julie Garland film the same way ever again.

The national tour of Wicked features Natalie Daradich as Glinda the Good and Vicki Noon as Elphaba, the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. Daradich was excellent, with a strong, clear and high voice, and terrific comic timing. I truly wasn’t expecting Glinda to be laugh-out-loud funny! Vicki Noon was regrettably replaced halfway through tonight’s performance, with Anne Brummel taking over the role of the tragically misunderstood green-skinned witch. Both were wonderful as Elphaba, and the character’s serious, often dour demeanor contrasted nicely with Glinda’s bubbly cheerfulness. Brummel’s lower octaves carried her pathos nicely.

It was great not having any preconceived notions about the musical, because I did not see the “odd couple” aspect coming at all. I never would have thought Glinda and Elphaba were ever friends from the 1939 film. From the opening scenes that find the young sorceresses arriving at a school younger audiences will think of as Hogwarts, to the touching dramatic turns in life and love by the end of the first act, I found myself drawn into Oz like never before, finding ways to dovetail the live performance with my movie memories. Brummel thankfully didn’t overuse the witchy Margaret Hamilton cackle, and Daradich at times was so playful I had to remind myself how prim and proper Billie Burke’s Glinda was. After being vilified in Act One, Elphaba and Glinda fill in the blanks about what was going on in Oz while the movie cameras followed Dorothy and Toto in Act Two.

“Wicked” is at The Fox Theatre through July 11, 2010. Buy now and Save $10 on Wicked Fabulous Fox Theatre-St. Louis MO Ticket Orders Over $350! Code AFF$10.

Friday, June 18th, 2010

London-WickedWest End hit musical Wicked is celebrating takings of £100m since it opened in September 2006.

The cast and crew of Wicked are celebrating after the musical passed the £100 million mark in box office takings. The show has been seen by almost three million people over 1,500 performances London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre, according to its producers.

Speaking to the Stage, executive producer Michael McCabe said Wicked is “still going incredibly strong” after nearly four years.

He commented: “What we’re doing is still going up – that’s the real phenomenon of Wicked, it hasn’t plateaued. It just keeps on surprising us.”

Mr McCabe added that the show’s success has been based on “word of mouth”, with audiences growing gradually despite a mixed reception from critics in the first few months.

Voted most popular show at this year’s Laurence Olivier Awards, Wicked welcomed Lee Mead to the cast in May.

The former star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is playing Fiyero and has joined Rachel Tucker and Louise Dearman in the Apollo Victoria production.

The musical is currently running at London’s Apollo Victoria theatre. The musical has been seen by more than 21 million people worldwide. Get your Wicked Tickets London. Save $10 on Wicked Ticket Orders order over $350! Code AFF$10

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Buy Tickets to see Wicked!

Buy Tickets to see Wicked!