by: Katherine George
Most people are familiar with the childhood story The Wizard of Oz, but what remains unknown are the events leading up to Dorothy’s treacherous journey through the Land of Oz. The upcoming musical Wicked reveals the untold story behind the characters within this timeless fairy-tale, as it ventures to explore the true reasons for the animosity between the witches. Briefly, the story entails two girls in the Land of Oz, one of which is born with emerald green skin. Despite her intelligence, she is fiery and widely misunderstood. The other comprises beauty, ambition and is extremely popular throughout the land. Wicked unveils the events leading up to their eventual roles as the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good. Fortunately, this extraordinary tale is making a local stop to Kitchener on their global tour, presumably on their broomsticks.
Tickets for this event hit the box office on Saturday, May 5, and are currently being sold at the Centre in the Square box office. Wicked has a ten-day run at the Centre in the Square between August 29 and September 9.
The show is no newcomer when it comes to Broadway. Currently touring its ninth year, Wicked’s North American and international companies have already made a cumulative earning of $2.5 billion, providing entertainment for over 30 million people worldwide. Even more impressive, earning $2,228,235 during the month of January in 2011, Wicked reigned in the highest one-week box office take in the history of Broadway.
The buzz around Wicked is nothing but positive. The New York Times claims the show to be “Broadway’s biggest blockbuster,” while more recently adding, “the defining musical of the decade.” Let’s be honest, if the New York Times says it, it must be true. In addition, The Observer calls Wicked “one of the biggest hits of our age.” Also reinforcing these strong reviews, The Times recalls the London production of the show as “the biggest thing in musicals since The Phantom of the Opera.” Now that’s big!
Wicked derives inspiration from the original novel by Gregory Maguire entitled Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Differing from Maguire’s previous success in a dozen other published children’s novels, Wicked is his first adult novel. Sticking to his past standards, Maguire never ceases to impress as Wicked makes the enormous leap from ink on paper to the enactment of real live characters on stage.
The individuals responsible for this spectacular show are numerous and deserve endless amounts of credit and applause. The following are simply a few among many: Director Joe Mantello, widely known for his direction of Assassins and Take Me Out, both of which received Tony Awards; Marc Platt, Jon B. Platt, and David Stone, collaborative producers of the show; and the mastermind behind the powerful music and lyrics, Stephen Schwartz. Academy Award winner Schwartz has also made musical contributions to Broadway shows such as Godspell, Pippin, and The Baker’s Wife, as well as for The Prince of Egypt and Disney’s Enchanted and Pocahontas. Supporting the production of the musical are widely renowned companies Universal Pictures and The Araca Group.
Rachelle Gull, marketing assistant for Wicked, says of the upcoming show in Centre in the Square, “The cost in general of seeing a Broadway show in Kitchener versus Toronto is just much lower. Parking is cheaper, the ticket price lower, less gas consumption and you don’t have to sit in traffic.” Not to mention the quality of theatre: “There isn’t a bad seat in the house.” In case you were looking for a reason not to attend Wicked, Gull provides some more reassuring information: “Some people worry that the casting isn’t as good as Toronto – this is a Broadway-selected cast that tours North America. You can be guaranteed to be seeing the same quality of show you will see anywhere else this show is available.” Evidently, with all the positive reinforcement surrounding Wicked at Centre in the Square, it is seemingly difficult to find a reason not to go.
Not only is the show a great chance to indulge in some entertaining performance art, but it is also an opportunity to support the local community. It is definitely a privilege to have access to theatres such as Centre in the Square, particularly for Broadway shows such as Wicked. Regardless of whether or not you are familiar with the film, book, and/or musical production The Wizard of Oz, it will be nothing short of an enjoyable experience.