How did the musical Wicked fascinate millions worldwide?
We often fall in love with heroes and heroines. But every villain has a story to tell too.
One of the most successful Broadway musical productions of all time is Wicked. Based on Gregory Maguire’s Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Wicked the musical is told from the eyes of the witches of the Land of Oz.
American musical theatre lyricist and composer, Stephen Schwartz, collaborated with Emmy Award-winning writer, Winnie Holzman, to create a plot that will suit a musical. The produced work focused on the friendship between Galinda and Elphaba, originally performed by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth.
The premier of Wicked the musical in San Francisco was on June 10, 2003. Although it opened to vicious reviews, it defied all expectations when it continued to enthrall and awe theatergoers ten years on. Since then, the musical has played in thirteen different countries, including Germany, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. It was watched by nearly forty-eight million people worldwide. Its profits amounted to 3.9 billion, making it the second highest grossing Broadway show, next only to The Lion King. The show has also garnered numerous prestigious accolades, including several Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, and a Grammy.
Set before Dorothy was even born, Wicked the musical follows the untold tale of unlikely friendship between two young women: Galinda, the popular blonde, and Elphaba, the misunderstood green girl. One is seduced by power. The other strives to remain true to herself. But their choices pave different paths for each of them, leading them to their ultimate fate—Glinda the Good Witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
Intricate and lavish, the musical explores complex subjects, from the standards of beauty to individual morality. Elysa Gardner from USA Today describes it as “the most complete, and completely satisfying, musical I’ve come across in a long time.”
And who can forget memorable Wicked the musical quotes like, “Because happy is what happens when all your dreams come true! Well . . . isn’t it?” “Some things I cannot change, but ’til I try, I’ll never know.” “It’s just life, so keep dancing through.”
But more than its commercial successes and popularity, the musical, Wicked, is actually a fascinating glimpse into the post-modernist mind. It offers a fresh look at classics with seemingly indestructible idea of right or wrong, good or evil, and black or white. Wicked humanizes one of the most iconic villains in literature, giving the audience a chance to make up their own minds and alter long-held views.
“All of us have tried to understand what it is about that show that has made it such a phenomenon because you know, there are hit shows and I’ve had my share of hit shows as well as failures, but every now and then something happens where it goes beyond the show itself. And you just hit the culture, the zeitgeist, at exactly the right time,” Stephen Schwartz said, reflecting on the phenomenon the show has become.
Broadway World. “Wicked on Broadway Reviews.” Broadway Reviews. Accessed July 26, 2017.http://www.broadwayworld.com/reviews/Wicked.
Stage Agent. “Wicked: Musical.” Shows. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://stageagent.com/shows/musical/1289/wicked.
Goodreads. “Wicked Quotes by Stephen Schwartz.” Wicked Quotes. Accessed July 26, 2017. https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/12807927-wicked-the-complete-book-and-lyrics-of-the-broadway-musical.