Full Production of Wicked Likely to Open in Japan in 2007

News   Full Production of Wicked Likely to Open in Japan in 2007
Although the Universal Studios theme park in Osaka, Japan, is currently presenting a 30-minute version of Wicked, a full-scale production of the hit Stephen Schwartz musical will likely open in Japan next year.

Wicked producer Marc Platt told Variety, "We now have fairly definite plans with the Shiki Theatrical Company to undertake a full Japanese language production in 2007." The Shiki Theatrical Company is responsible for the Japanese tours of The Lion King and Mamma Mia!.

The current 30-minute version of the musical, the industry paper says, was created with the help of composer Schwartz and book writer Winnie Holzman. It features a paired-down version of the first act, focusing mainly on the relationship between Glinda and Elphaba, and concludes with the first-act finale, “Defying Gravity.”

About 30% of the Universal Studios version, which is presented several times each day, is in English; the full-scale production will be completely translated into Japanese. The Universal production also features three Elphabas and three Glindas; the green-faced witches are played by American or Australian actresses, while the Glindas are all Japanese.

In addition to a national tour, Wicked currently plays Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre and Chicago’s Ford Center for the Performing Arts' Oriental Theatre. The musical will begin previews in London Sept. 7 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, and a new production will open at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre in February 2007.

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.

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