The production opens on Oct. 30. Featuring a score by Schwartz — the first new Broadway entry in more than a decade from the composer of Godspell, The Magic Show and Pippin — and a book by Winnie Holzman, Wicked began previews Oct. 8.
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, which turned every Oz myth inside out, the musical 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.
About the show, Menzel, who portrays the Wicked Witch of the West, told Playbill, "Wicked is multi-thematic, and I'm so excited that it has an important message. The show is about finding out who you truly are. It's about race and propaganda. And it's about the friendship between these two women, which is what Kristin and I love about doing the show. How many shows can you think of in which there are two women characters who really care about each other, who sing beautiful duets to each other? It's rare. I think it's so important to celebrate friendship between women, and Winnie has incredible talent for writing great women's roles. Elphaba is heroic. She's a really smart girl who's also outspoken and defensive because she's an outcast. There are forces that are trying to keep her down, but she's determined to overcome her problems and make a difference in the world."
Wicked song titles include "No One Mourns the Wicked," "Dear Old Shiz," "The Wizard and I," "What Is This Feeling?," "Something Bad," "Dancing Through Life," "Popular," "I'm Not That Girl," "One Short Day," "A Sentimental Man," "Defying Gravity," "Thank Goodness," "The Wicked Witch of the East," "Wonderful," "As Long As You're Mine," "No Good Deed," "March of the Witch Hunters" and "For Good." The cast also features Tony and Academy Award winner Joel (Cabaret) Grey as The Wizard, Carole Shelley as the Wizard's malevolent cohort Madame Morrible, Norbert Leo Butz as Glinda and Elphaba's love interest Fiyero, Michelle Federer as Elphaba's crippled sister Nessarose, Christopher Fitzgerald as munchkin Boq, who adores Glinda and William Youmans as Doctor Dillamand, who is a professor and a goat.
The company comprises Ioana Alfonso, Ben Cameron, Cristy Candler, Kristy Cates, Melissa Bell Chait, Marcus Choi, Kristoffer Cusick, Kathy Deitch, Eden Espinosa, Melissa Fahn, Rhett G. George, Kristen Lee Gorski, Manuel Herrera, Kisha Howard, LJ Jellison, Sean McCourt, Corinne McFadden, Mark Myars, Jan Neuberger, Walter Winston O'Neil, Andrew Palermo, Andy Pellick, Michael Seelbach, Lorna Ventura and Derrick Williams.
Directed by Joe Mantello — a 2003 Tony Award winner for this season’s Take Me Out — Wicked boasts choreography by Wayne Cilento. The creative team includes Eugene Lee (set design), Susan Hilferty (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), Tony Meola (sound design), Stephen Oremus (musical director), William David Brohn (orchestrations) and Jim Abbott (dance arrangements).
The Gershwin Theatre is located in Manhattan at 222 West 51st Street. Wicked plays Tuesdays at 8 PM, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 PM with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2 PM and Sundays at 3 PM; tickets range from $40-$100. (Beginning Nov. 4, Wicked will offer Tuesday evening performances at 7 PM.) Tickets are available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.