Injured Menzel Makes Surprise Appearance at Jan. 9 Wicked Performance

News   Injured Menzel Makes Surprise Appearance at Jan. 9 Wicked Performance Tony Award winner Idina Menzel, who was to play her final performance in Wicked Jan. 9, was injured during the Jan. 8 matinee of the hit Stephen Schwartz musical.
Idina Menzel in Wicked
Idina Menzel in Wicked Photo by Joan Marcus

Shoshana Bean, Menzel's standby who was slated to officially take over the role of Elphaba beginning Jan. 11, played the Sunday, Jan. 9 performance.

It had been announced prior to the matinee that Menzel would make an appearance during the musical's final curtain call. The Tony-winning actress, however, surprised the sold-out crowd when she came onstage — dressed in a red track suit — to complete the final scene of the musical.

During the curtain call, Menzel was again brought onto the stage so she could take her final bow at what was to be her last performance as the misunderstood Elphaba. Menzel, according to the Associated Press, told the audience, "I love you all. It's been the best year of my life. Thank you."

About the Jan. 8 matinee, a spokesperson for Wicked told Playbill On-Line, “Yesterday at the matinee during the melting sequence, which comes very late in the show, there’s a trap door that opens on the stage floor. An elevated platform is exposed, just underneath the stage floor. [Idina] usually steps onto that platform and is lowered [beneath the stage.] [At yesterday’s performance] the elevator had already partially descended, so when Idina stepped forward, she fell and hit her side.

“The show was stopped, and the house curtain [was lowered. An announcement was made] to see if there were doctors in the house, and people did rush backstage. An ambulance came and took [Idina] to the hospital. During that time, Shoshana Bean, Idina’s standby, quickly got into green make-up and costume and completed the performance. At the curtain call, Joey McIntyre, who played his final performance as Fiyero Jan. 9, reassured the audience that Idina was going to be okay. At the hospital, x-rays were taken of Menzel, and it was discovered that the actress cracked one of her lower ribs. Because of the injury, standby Bean also played Saturday evening’s performance to what was described as a very “supportive house.”

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Idina Menzel, who won a 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in the musical based on the Gregory Maguire novel, created the role of Elphaba in the summer 2003 San Francisco mounting at the Curran Theatre. The show, which features a score by Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, was then reworked before opening on Broadway Oct. 30, 2003.

About that interim period, Menzel previously told Playbill Magazine, "We took the summer off, and they did a lot of rewriting. Originally, Elphaba was much more of an observer. Everything happened around her. She was onstage a lot, but she didn't have an opinion about things. We couldn't see her point of view. The revised version gave her more intelligence and more of a sense of humor."

When Wicked opened on Broadway, Menzel played opposite the Glinda of Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, who departed the production July 18, 2004. Jennifer Laura Thompson — of Urinetown fame — now plays the role of the popular Glinda.

About her time spent "Defying Gravity" in Wicked, Menzel writes on her official website, "In 2003 I was cast as Elphaba, the wicked witch of the west in Wicked. Words can't express the overwhelmingly profound experience it has been both personally and professionally."

Menzel will be succeeded in the role by her understudy, Shoshana Bean, who was also seen on Broadway in the original cast of Hairspray. Bean's first official performance is scheduled for Jan. 11. That day will also mark the arrival of two other new Wicked cast members: David Ayers, who assumes the role of Fiyero (replacing Joey McIntyre, who plays his final performance Jan. 9) and Jeffrey Kuhn, who is the show's new Boq.

Wicked, which turned every Oz myth inside out, explores the early life of the witches of Oz: Glinda and Elphaba. The two main characters meet at Shiz, a school where both hope to take up sorcery. Glinda is madly popular and Elphaba is, well, green. By a misunderstanding, they wind up roommates and, after an initial period of mutual loathing, begin to learn something about each other. Their life paths continue to intersect through a shared love, entry into the Emerald City and interaction with the Wizard himself. Eventually, their choices and convictions take them on widely different paths.

The Wicked company also currently includes George Hearn as The Wizard, Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, Michelle Federer as Nessarose, and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamand.

Directed by Joe Mantello, Wicked features choreography by Wayne Cilento and plays the Gershwin, 222 West 51st Street. Tickets are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

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Idina Menzel won a Tony Award for Leading Actress in a Musical for her work as Elphaba in Wicked. She created the role of Maureen in the original Broadway company of Rent, and her other theatrical credits include the City Center Encores! production of Hair, the Manhattan Theatre Club The Wild Party and the benefit Funny Girl concert. Menzel also recently completed filming the new motion picture "Ask the Dust" and she will soon head to San Francisco to re-create her role of Maureen in the film version of "Rent."

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