The special concert A Very Wicked Halloween: Celebrating 15 Years on Broadway may have aired October 29 on NBC, but Playbill had a special seat inside the taping on October 16. Original stars Idina Menzel, who won a Tony Award for her performance as Elphaba, and Kristin Chenoweth, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance as Glinda, welcomed screaming fans inside Broadway’s Marquis Theatre, bedecked and bedazzled into the Ozdust Ballroom. In between performances by the hosts, Ariana Grande, Ledisi and Adam Lambert, and Pentatonix, here’s what you didn’t see behind the cameras:
1. The Hilarity of Original Cast Member Ben Cameron
The team behind A Very Wicked Halloween found the perfect “warm-up guy” in Ben Cameron, a member of Wicked’s original Broadway company. As he explained to the audience, he’s always asked who he played, so he called out “Roll tape!” and we heard the infamous line “Glinda! Is it true you were her friend?!” Cameron showed further evidence of his time in Wicked by way of the company photo in their final pose from “One Short Day.” “Yes, I was the only one on Joan Marcus photo day whose glasses fell off.” But perhaps the most memorable of Cameron’s interludes was his re-enactment of the choreography to “What Is This Feeling?” marking the two dueling sides of Shiz students, Glinda, and Elphaba.
2. Kristin Chenoweth and “Popular”
During the filming of “Popular,” Chenoweth requested everyone pull out their cameras and film her (which we heard on TV). What we didn’t hear was her side comment, “Yes, film. I like lighting,” as she batted her lashes.
3. Audience Participation
Throughout the approximately 90-minute taping, fans (dressed in their Ozian couture) joined Cameron onstage in a dance competition to “One Short Day” and a “Defying Gravity” sing-along, testing how well Wicked die-hards know the lyrics to the musical theatre anthem. Lucky participants walked away with Wicked swag.
4. Fan Interaction
“Please tell me y’all are having fun,” Chenoweth pleaded during an early “commercial break.” Chenoweth and Menzel were both gracious to the droves of fans decked out in Wicked-themed costumes. “Your mama made your outfit didn’t she?” Chenoweth asked one fan. During pauses, Chenoweth could be found taking selfies and chatting with audiences, and tearing up at the crowd’s enthusiasm for the musical she always knew would be a hit.
A Very Wicked Halloween reunited Chenoweth and Menzel, who beamed at each other through the entire event. As they continually squeezed each other’s hands—realizing the impact of their show that began 15 years ago—it was obvious these women truly love each other. In fact, in a take we didn’t see of Chenoweth’s introduction to Menzel’s “Defying Gravity,” she noted “She doesn’t need the machine to fly, she does it all on her own.” But the concert wasn’t just an onstage reunion, the orchestra for the day included Wicked’s original musical director Tony winner Stephen Oremus (The Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots) and many of the original musicians, including Tony winner Alex Lacamoire (In the Heights, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen), who replaced Oremus as Wicked’s music director and conductor, on keys.