Gasteyer Is Elphaba, Reed Is Morrible and Weygandt Is the Wizard in Chicago Wicked

By Andrew Gans
23 Mar 2005

Ana Gasteyer
Ana Gasteyer
Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Playbill.com has learned Ana Gasteyer, Rondi Reed and Gene Weygandt will head the cast of the open-ended, sit-down production of Wicked, which will play Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre beginning June 24.

Former "Saturday Night Live" star Gasteyer, who is also a Northwestern alum, will head the cast as the green-faced Elphaba. Chicago's own Reed and Weygandt will play the roles of, respectively, Madame Morrible and The Wizard. The open-ended Wicked run follows the April 29-June 12 engagement featuring the touring cast. That company stars Stephanie J. Block as Elphaba and Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda.

Best known for her work on "Saturday Night Live," Gasteyer has appeared on Broadway in The Rocky Horror Show and Off Broadway in The Vagina Monologues and Kimberly Akimbo. She also played Fanny Brice in the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's production of Funny Girl and was recently seen in the New York City Opera mounting of Cinderella. Her screen credits include "Mean Girls," "What Women Want," "Woman on Top," "Dick" and "What's the Worst That Could Happen?"

Rondi Reed, a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1979, has been seen on Broadway in The Grapes of Wrath and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. She received a Joseph Jefferson Award for her work in The Fall to Earth, and her other theatrical credits include Man From Nebraska, Side Man and Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Her film and television credits include "Normal," "Jungle 2 Jungle," "Eye for an Eye," "The Astronaut's Wife," "Fearless," "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Nothing Sacred" and "Seinfeld."



Gene Weygandt created the role of Paul in Broadway's Big. A three-time Joseph Jefferson Award winner, his other theatrical credits include Inspecting Carol, Lend Me a Tenor, Little Shop of Horrors, A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, Arthur: The Musical, Me and My Girl and Phantom of the Country Place. His screen credits include "Murphy Brown," "Home Improvement," "Cybill," "Drew Carey," "Ellen," "Coach" and "Thunder Alley."

Based on Gregory 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 will repeat his duties for the upcoming Chicago production — continues to play the Gershwin Theatre.

Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts/Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph Street. Tickets for Wicked performances June 24 and after will go on sale Monday, April 4 at 10 AM at all Broadway in Chicago box offices (22 W. Monroe Street, 24 W. Randolph Street and 151 West Randolph Street). Tickets will also be available by calling (312) 902-1400.

Tickets for the touring production of Wicked, which will play Chicago April 29-June 12 are currently on sale by calling Ticketmaster at (312) 902-1400.

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

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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."