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Wicked is a musical that premiered on Broadway in October 2003. It is touted as the untold story of the witches of Oz and is loosely based on the best selling novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. The musical features music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. With musical staging by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento, Wicked is directed by 2003 and 2004 Tony winner Joe Mantello.
The musical opened on Broadway on October 30, 2003 at the Gershwin Theatre. The original cast included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as The Wizard. Business and popularity boomed due to very good word-of-mouth, and the box office was boosted when the show was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including Best Musical. (It subsequently lost that award, however, along with the Tony Awards for best score and best book, to another new musical of the season, Avenue Q). Menzel was named Best Actress in a Musical. The musical received two additional awards—to Eugene Lee for scenic design and Susan Hilferty for costume design. The cast recording received a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album.
Wicked earned back its entire initial investment by December 21, 2004. In its first year it grossed more than $56 million. The show, which is open-ended, has been playing to capacity crowds for almost every recent performance and grosses more than a million dollars every week. The show had a $14 million capitalization.
The show began its first national tour in early 2005 with extended runs in cities such as Toronto, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, and Boston. In late June of 2005 a permanent production of Wicked, separate from the national tour, opened at Chicago's Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre with an open-ended run, which many consider to be a harbinger of things to come for Chicago theatre. Wicked is the first show in decades to run on a permanent basis simultaneously on Broadway and in Chicago's North Loop theatre district.
The musical is both a prequel and a sequel to L. Frank Baum's classic book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and is also heavily influenced by the iconic 1939 movie, The Wizard of Oz. Set in the days prior to Dorothy's arrival from Kansas, the story explores the idea that the infamous antagonist we call the Wicked Witch of the West was misconstrued and victimized. Her alleged evilness was merely retaliation against a charlatan wizard’s corrupt government. At Shiz University, the intelligent green-skinned woman, Elphaba Thropp, meets beautiful and ambitious Galinda Upland (who changes her name to Glinda during the course of the play and later becomes Glinda the Good) when the two become room mates. Their lives intertwine and throughout the show, their friendship struggles to endure extreme personality differences, opposing viewpoints, rivalry over the same love-interest, and of course, Elphaba’s eventual tragic fall from grace.