Wicked to Have Open-Ended Chicago Run

News   Wicked to Have Open-Ended Chicago Run Wicked, the hit Stephen Schwartz musical that recently launched its tour in Toronto, is next headed to Chicago, where it had been scheduled to play a limited engagement from April 29-June 12.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the musical, based on the Gregory Maguire novel of the same name, will continue playing the Windy City in an open-ended, sit-down production at the Ford Center/Oriental Theatre. The Chicago production, according to the newspaper, will utilize the set of the touring company and will boast a mix of Chicago and New York actors.

Wicked producer Marc Platt told the Sun-Times that Joe Mantello, who directed the musical on Broadway, will also be at the helm of the open-ended Chicago run. The Chicago production is scheduled to cost $10 million.

About the Chicago decision, producer Platt said, "It's a test case, and a lot of eyes are on us. If this works, it could open the door for other producers who will say that, under the right circumstances, Chicago is a town that can hold down long runs. Success breeds success.

"I don't take anything for granted," Platt added, "but we are very confident for a number of reasons. We have a marvelous show that entertains the broadest possible demographic of audiences from 8 to 80. And when they leave the theatre, they generate the kind of word-of-mouth that I haven't experienced in quite some time. Chicago is obviously a great theatre town, and a lot of people there recognize how beneficial this can be, both culturally and in terms of the economy. It just seems like it's the right show, the right city, the right time."

The national tour of Wicked, currently playing Toronto's Canon Theatre through April 24, stars Stephanie J. Block (Elphaba) Kendra Kassebaum (Glinda), David Garrison (the Wizard), Carol Kane (Madame Morrible), Derrick Williams (Fiyero), Jenna Leigh Green (Nessarose), Logan Lipton (Boq) and Timothy Britten Parker (Dr. Dillamond). The Wicked ensemble comprises Katie Adams, Timothy Anderson, Terra Lynn Arrington, Aaron Albano, Peter John Chursin, Matt Clemons, Nicholas Drommard, Laura Dysarczyk, Maria Eberline, Brooke Elliott, Lori Holmes, Adam Lambert, KW Miller, Kristen Oei, Chris Peluso, Don Richard, Emily Rozek, Chris Russo, Brian Slaman, James Tabeek, Barbara Tirrell, Brooke Wendle and Nicole Winhoffer.

Following its run at the Canon, Wicked will head to Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts, playing April 29-June 12, to be followed by the sit-down production with a new cast. The original Wicked tour will then make a stop at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre, June 17-July 31, and is also scheduled to play San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre Aug. 4-Sept. 11. The Denver Center for the Performing Arts' Buell Theatre will offer Wicked Sept. 15-Oct. 2, and a Dallas engagement at Music Hall at Fair Park is set for Oct. 5-23. The hit musical will then play engagements at the Broward Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL (Feb. 8-19, 2006) and at the Kimmell Center in Philadelphia, PA (beginning March 22, 2006).

Based on Maguire's novel, which turned every Oz myth inside out, Wicked 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.

Wicked, with a book by Winnie Holzman, began previews on Broadway Oct. 8, 2003, with an official opening Oct. 30, 2003. The Broadway company — directed by Joe Mantello, who repeats his duties for the tour — continues to play the Gershwin Theatre. Tickets for Wicked's national tour are available by calling Ticketmaster at (312) 902-1400.

For more information about Wicked visit www.wickedthemusical.com.

Kristin Chenoweth (left) and Idina Menzel in the original Broadway cast of <i>Wicked</i>
Kristin Chenoweth (left) and Idina Menzel in the original Broadway cast of Wicked Photo by Joan Marcus