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Wicked is the musical extravaganza based off the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, both the novel and the musical tell the untold story of Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West.
The musical was produced by Universal Pictures and originally premiered at New York’s Gershwin Theater on October 2003. The original cast featured Rent star Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Broadway-sweetheart Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and the original Cabaret film and musical Master of Ceremonies, Joel Grey as the Wizard. Since its debut, the show has seen nine successful years on Broadway, marking it as the 12th longest-running production in Broadway history.
The plot of Wicked centers on what was left out of the original telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - the wicked witch’s plight. In Wicked, we learn the misunderstood witch’s seemingly adverse behavior is a response to the Wizard’s corrupt government scheme. Through her “frenemy” Galinda Upland, the Good Witch of the North, Elphaba learns what it means to embrace who she is and “defy gravity.”
Wicked’s songs and lyrics, written by Stephen Shwartz, are notoriously catchy. Such tunes as “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” are belted by musical theater hopefuls around the world. Just try passing a row of Brooklyn apartments or musical theater classrooms without being bombarded by these poignant musical pieces.
The show’s original production was nominated for eleven Tony Awards in 2004, winning Best Actress (Menzel), Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. The show was the recipient of six Drama Desk Awards, and the original Broadway cast recording earned a 2005 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.