I saw Wicked on Broadway a couple of months ago and thought it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and not because it is witchy. The show was fun, well acted, the story was interesting (not a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz”) and the songs were catchy. Wicked is the story of Glinda, the Good Witch, and Elphaba (pronounced el-fa-ba), the Wicked Witch of the West, and takes place for the most part before Dorothy shows up. The musical was adapted not from L. Frank Baum’s book or the 1939 movie starring Judy Garland, but from the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maguire.
Wicked on Broadway
Wicked tells the story of how Elphaba and Glinda meet as roommates in college and how Elphaba becomes known as a wicked witch. The story is sympathetic to green-skinned Elphaba and shows her feelings of being rejected by everyone she has come in contact with since birth. She is an activist and tries to change her world for the better, although her actions are misunderstood. The original production opened on Broadway in 2003 and starred Kristen Chenoworth as Glinda.
There is a wiki page with a complete synopsis of the play if you’re interested. However, if you’re planning on seeing the play, I would recommend you do not read it – and be surprised and enjoy the telling on stage. The story was not what I had thought it would be, and I was pleased about that.
There is no DVD out of the Broadway play and no plans currently to distribute one. I don’t believe any other cities have a production of the play right now, but it has traveled in the past. You can purchase cd’s of the musical, along with the usual shirts, mugs and keychains at http://www.wickedthemusicalstore.com/. They also sell green Oz glasses, plush flying monkeys, green elixir water bottles, and pretty jewelry.
How to get front row seats for $30
There is a lottery held before every performance for 26 front row tickets. Show up at the Gerschwin Theatre 2 hours before the performance. Everyone trying to win tickets for that show will write their name and the number of tickets (1 or 2) they wish to purchase for $30 on a slip of paper. These papers go into a turning basket to mix them up and 26 lucky ducks shriek and jump into a line at the front to claim their tickets. If you wish to do this, bring I.D. and cash.
Most Broadway shows have this lottery. The practice of holding a lottery for first row tickets started almost 20 years ago for Rent, to give students and others a chance to experience Broadway up close. I just found out about the lotteries this year and tried twice to get seats for Wicked and wasn’t picked, so I ended up seeing the show by purchasing a ticket (not cheap at $147).
Behind the Wicked curtain
If you don’t get chosen for the lottery and don’t want to spend such a high price to see the show, there is an alternative. For $30 you can see Behind The Emerald Curtain, which is a behind-the-scenes look at Wicked. Guests meet cast members, see backstage and learn what goes into making a Broadway show. For budding actors (and interested parties), there is also a Q&A session with cast members where you can ask about Wicked or show business in general.
P.S. In case you’re wondering why the Wicked Witch has such an odd name, it comes from the initials of the author of the original book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: L. Frank Baum – LFB = Elphaba.