Joel Grey Steps in as Wicked's New Wizard

News   Joel Grey Steps in as Wicked's New Wizard
Joel Grey has replaced Robert Morse in the key role of the Wizard of Oz in the upcoming Broadway musical Wicked.

Joel Grey
Joel Grey

According to a statement, Morse was uncomfortable with being separated from his wife and two children during the New York rehearsals and San Francisco performances of the Broadway-bound Stephen Schwartz show. "He decided that he did not want to leave his family on the West Coast for an additional twelve months to fulfill his Broadway contract," said producer David Stone.

Stone also noted that he and his fellow producers had spoken to Grey about playing the Wizard when the musical was first cast. "At that time, his schedule did not permit him to join us," said Stone.

Grey's inclusion is the third Wicked cast change. Following the San Francisco tryout, Christopher Fitzgerald replaced Kirk McDonald as Boq and William Youmans replaced John Horton as Dr. Dillamond.

Wicked will begin previews at the Gershwin Theatre Oct. 7 with an official opening scheduled for Oct. 30. Tickets for the Broadway run are now available by calling (212) 307-4100 or by visiting Wicked will play Tuesdays at 7 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. The Gershwin box office (222 West 51st Street) opens Aug. 18.

Stone's statement continued: "We are busy at work using our scheduled hiatus to make other changes based on things we learned in San Francisco. Stephen Schwartz is writing new material for his score, Winnie Holzman is clarifying and streamlining elements of her book, director Joe Mantello and the design team are making staging and design adjustments large and small, Wayne Cilento has created new choreography for a major new musical number." Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, the musical explores the early life of the witches of Oz: Glinda and Elphaba. According to a press statement, the untold story of the witches of Oz takes place "long before Dorothy drops in. . . One [witch], born with emerald green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. Wicked tells the story of a remarkable odyssey in which these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch."

Tony Award winner Kristin Chenoweth, who recently starred as “Marian” in the TV adaptation of The Music Man, plays Glinda, the Good Witch, and former Renter Idina Menzel is Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. The cast also includes Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, Norbert Leo Butz as Fiyero and Michelle Federer as Nessarose.

The company features Ioana Alfonso, Ben Cameron, Cristy Candler, Melissa Bell Chait, Marcus Choi, Kristoffer Cusick, Kathy Deitch, Melissa Fahn, Rhett G. George, Kristen Lee Gorski, Manuel Herrera, Kisha Howard, LJ Jellison, Sean McCourt, Corinne McFadden, Mark Myars, Jan Neuberger, Walter Winston ONeil, 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 OutWicked will feature choreography by Wayne Cilento. The creative team also comprises 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).

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