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Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman. It is a loose adaptation of the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire which is in turn based on L. Frank Baum's 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film adaptation.

The musical is told from the perspective of two witches of the Land of Oz. Its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy Gale arrives in Oz from Kansas. Wicked tells the story of two unlikely friends, Elphaba (later known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (later known as Glinda the Good), whose friendship struggles through their opposing personalities, viewpoints, same love interest, reactions to the Wonderful Wizard's corrupt government, and, ultimately, Elphaba's fall from grace.

Produced by Universal Stage Productions, in coalition with Marc Platt, Jon B. Platt, and David Stone, with direction by Joe Mantello and choreography by Wayne Cilento, the original production of Wicked premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, after completing pre-Broadway tryouts at San Francisco's Curran Theatre in May and June of that year. Its original stars included Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda, and Joel Grey as the Wizard. The original Broadway production won three Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, while its original cast album received a Grammy Award. On April 11, 2023, with its 7,486th performance, it surpassed Cats to become Broadway's fourth-longest running show. A typical performance of the show takes about two hours and 30 minutes, including an intermission.

The success of the Broadway production has spawned many productions worldwide, including a long-running West End production. Wicked has broken box-office records around the world, holding weekly-gross-takings records in Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, and London. In the week ending January 2, 2011, the London, Broadway, and both North American touring productions simultaneously broke their respective records for the highest weekly gross. In the final week of 2013, the Broadway production broke this record again, earning $3.2 million. In 2016, Wicked surpassed $1 billion in total Broadway revenue, joining The Phantom of the Opera and The Lion King as the only Broadway shows to do so. In 2017, Wicked surpassed The Phantom of the Opera as Broadway's second-highest grossing musical, trailing only The Lion King.

A two-part film adaptation, directed by Jon M. Chu starring Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba, Ariana Grande as Galinda, Jeff Goldblum as the Wizard, and Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero is currently in the works. The first part is set for release on November 27, 2024, with the second part to follow a year later on November 26, 2025.

Synopsis[]

Act I[]

Wicked starts with a celebration in Oz, following the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West ("No One Mourns the Wicked"). Glinda the Good reveals Elphaba's past: her mother had an affair with a traveling salesman while her father, the governor of Munchkinland, was away. She gave birth to a girl with green skin, whom her father rejected at birth, cursing her with a troubled childhood. When an Ozian asks Glinda if she was the Witch's friend, she begins to reminisce about their past.

Years later, Elphaba arrives at Shiz University ("Dear Old Shiz") with her sister, Nessarose, who is confined to a wheelchair. The schools headmistress, Madame Morrible, makes the nerdy Elphaba and the popular Galinda roommates. Elphaba, anxious, uses magic to pull Nessarose's wheelchair back after Morrible attempts to depart with her. Morrible recognizes her power and decides to teach Elphaba sorcery. She tells Elphaba her powers might allow her to one day work with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, something Elphaba has dreamed of her whole life ("The Wizard and I").

All of this does little to endear Elphaba to Galinda and the feeling is mutual ("What Is This Feeling?"). They clash constantly, even in their classes, such as their history class with Doctor Dillamond. Dr. Dillamond is the only Animal professor at the university and is beginning to suffer from discrimination, even from the students. He tells Elphaba about a conspiracy to stop animals from speaking, and she wants to let the Wizard know since he could stop it ("Something Bad").

A roguish prince, Fiyero has arrived at Shiz. Galinda is charmed when Fiyero shares his life philosophy. They all decide to have a party that evening. Boq, a Munchkin that has developed a crush on Galinda, tries to invite her to the party, but she convinces him instead to ask Nessarose out of pity, leaving her free to go with Fiyero. Nessa becomes enamored with Boq and convinces Elphaba to find a way to thank Galinda for her "help". At the party, Madame Morrible tells Galinda she can join her sorcery class, at Elphaba's request, and gives her a wand. Elphaba arrives wearing a hat Galinda gave her as a practical joke, only to find the other students laughing and staring while she dances alone. Galinda has a change of heart and decides to dance with her, and soon everyone joins them, allowing both girls to finally bond ("Dancing Through Life").

In their room, Galinda decides to make Elphaba popular ("Popular").

The next day, Dr. Dillamond tells the class that he is leaving -- he is no longer permitted to teach. Elphaba wants to help, but no one will stand up for him with her. Afterward, the students are introduced to the technical advantages of "the cage", which will prevent any animal from speaking. Elphaba's anger cannot be contained, and, in the ensuing chaos, she escapes alongside Fiyero, taking with them the lion cub that was imprisoned within the cage. The two of them share a private moment before Fiyero has to leave. Elphaba, alone, laments that she can never be loved by Fiyero as Galinda is ("I'm Not That Girl"). Madame Morrible arrives and tells Elphaba that the Wizard will meet her. Nessa, Fiyero, and Galinda see her off at the train station. Galinda tries to impress Fiyero by changing her name to Dr. Dillamond's pronunciation of her name, "Glinda", in solidarity with him, but Fiyero barely notices and says goodbye to Elphaba. Elphaba invites Glinda to the Emerald City. ("One Short Day").

Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard of Oz, who is not as terrible as they thought ("A Sentimental Man"). He promises to grant Elphaba her request if she proves herself. Madame Morrible appears as the Wizard's new "press secretary". She gives Elphaba a book of spells, the Grimmerie, which only the magically gifted can read. Elphaba is asked to perform a levitation spell on the Wizard's monkey servant, Chistery. Her attempt allows him to fly, but only by making him sprout wings painfully. She discovers that the Wizard is behind the suppression of the Animals, and that he is a fraud who uses simple parlor tricks and lies so that he can continue on in power. She flees the Wizard's chamber, and Morrible warns all of Oz that Elphaba is a "wicked witch". Glinda meets Elphaba and advises her to go back and apologize, but Elphaba refuses, declaring she must go off to do what's right for her. She repeats the levitation spell on a broom and flies away from the Emerald City, leaving Glinda behind ("Defying Gravity").

Act II[]

Some time later, Elphaba is now known as "The Wicked Witch of the West". The Wizard has given Glinda the title "Glinda the Good" and a public status as the nation's defender against Elphaba. Fiyero has become captain of the guard and tries to find Elphaba. He reluctantly agrees to marry Glinda to keep up appearances. A press conference to celebrate their engagement is hijacked by the crowd's panicked rumors about Elphaba, one claiming that she can be melted by water. Glinda maintains a cheerful front for the press, but secretly regrets her decisions ("Thank Goodness").

Elphaba visits Nessarose, now the governor of Munchkinland following the death of their father. Nessa has taken away the Munchkins' rights so that Boq can't leave her. Elphaba tries to convince her sister to join her against the Wizard, but she is consumed by her own problems. Elphaba tries to help by enchanting her shoes, allowing her to walk; Nessa now thinks Boq will love her, but he sees this as proof that she no longer needs him, and wants to tell Glinda of his love for her before she marries Fiyero. Nessa takes the Grimmerie in order to cast a spell on Boq to make him fall in love with her. She pronounces the incantation wrong and accidentally shrinks Boq's heart. She cries to Elphaba to save him and prevent her from having to "live a life of loneliness" ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). Elphaba works another spell to save Boq's life, transforming him into a Tin Man who doesn't need a heart to live. Horrified, Boq flees in shock, and Nessa blames Elphaba.

Elphaba returns to the Emerald City to free the monkey servants and comes across the Wizard himself. He tries once again to convince her to work with him, telling her that he's not evil, but a mediocre man who came into his position by chance, and was led to stay by the reverence of the Ozians ("Wonderful"). She is almost won over, until she discovers Dr. Dillamond who has lost the power of speech. She vows to fight the Wizard to the end. Fiyero and the Guards enter, followed by Glinda. Fiyero helps Elphaba escape, and decides to escape with her and leave Glinda behind. Heartedbroken, Glinda tells the Wizard and Madame Morrible that they can capture Elphaba by convincing her that her sister is in trouble, so that she comes to her rescue. She laments that Fiyero doesn't love her ("I'm Not That Girl (Reprise)").

Hidden away in nature, Elphaba and Fiyero express their love for each other ("As Long As You're Mine") . Their happiness is interrupted by a sudden change in the weather. Elphaba and Glinda reunite at the scene where Nessa has been crushed by a house with a girl named Dorothy inside. After a fight between the two witches, the Wizard's guards arrive. Fiyero holds Glinda hostage as Elphaba flees. Glinda pleads for the guards not to harm him, but they don't listen. At Kiamo Ko castle, Elphaba casts a spell to make Fiyero invincible to any weapon, but is crestfallen by the limitations of her power. She finally accepts her reputation ("No Good Deed").

Meanwhile, the citizens of Oz, led by Madame Morrible and Boq the Tin Man, set off to capture Elphaba. Glinda realizes that Madame Morrible was responsible for Nessa's death and that the situation and rumors have already gone too far. When she confronts Madame Morrible, however, Madame Morrible tells her that there is also blood on her hands, and advises her to smile and wave. She flees in horror as the crowd below call for the Witch's death ("March of the Witch Hunters").

Elphaba captures Dorothy, refusing to release her until she relinquishes Nessa's magic shoes, the only thing left of her deceased sister. Glinda arrives to warn Elphaba of the danger and persuades her to let Dorothy go. Although Elphaba refuses, the two women forgive each other. Elphaba gives the Grimmerie to Glinda, and they embrace for a final time before saying goodbye forever and acknowledge how much they've changed because they knew each other ("For Good").

Elphaba forces Glinda to hide, and she watches from the shadows as Dorothy throws a bucket of water on Elphaba, melting her. The only remains of her are her pointy hat and the Green Elixir she had slept with under her pillow.

Back at the Emerald City, Glinda confronts the Wizard with Elphaba's bottle, which he recognizes as his own; he was Elphaba's biological father and the elixir was the cause of her green skin. Glinda banishes the Wizard from Oz and throws Morrible into prison for murdering Nessarose. Meanwhile, Dorothy's friend, Fiyero (now a scarecrow) arrives at the spot where Elphaba melted. He knocks on the floor; Elphaba steps out from a trapdoor, apparently having faked her death, and they embrace. Elphaba regrets that she will never see Glinda again. Back outside the Wizard's palace, Glinda informs the people of Oz that the Wicked Witch has been killed and that she will earn her title as "Glinda the Good". As the people celebrate and Glinda mourns quietly, Elphaba and Fiyero leave Oz ("Finale").

Original Broadway Cast (in order of appearance)[]

Musical Numbers[]

Act I

  • No One Mourns the Wicked: Glinda and Citizens of Oz       
  • Dear Old Shiz: Students
  • The Wizard and I: Elphaba and Madame Morrible
  • What is This Feeling: Glinda, Elphaba and Students
  • Something Bad:  Doctor Dillamond and Elphaba
  • Dancing Through Life: Fiyero, Glinda, Boq, Nessarose, Elphaba and Students
  • Popular: Glinda
  • I'm Not that Girl: Elphaba
  • One Short Day: Elphaba, Glinda and Citizens of Oz
  • A Sentimental Man: The Wizard
  • Defying Gravity: Elphaba, Glinda, Palace Guards and Citizens of Oz

Act II

  • Thank Goodness: Glinda, Madame Morrible and Citizens of Oz
  • The Wicked Witch of The East: Elphaba, Nessarose and Boq
  • Wonderful: The Wizard and Elphaba
  • I'm Not That Girl (Reprise): Glinda
  • As Long as Your Mine: Elphaba and Fiyero
  • No Good Deed: Elphaba
  • March of The Witch Hunters: Boq and Citizens of Oz
  • For Good: Glinda and Elphaba
  • Finale: Glinda, Elphaba and Ozians

Film Adaptations[]

It has been announced that there will be two movies to be released which are Wicked: Part One set for November 27th, 2024 and Wicked: Part Two on November 26th, 2025.

Trivia[]

  • Joel Grey reprised his role of The Wizard from the 1995 television stage production which was a benefit for the Children's Defence Fund.
  • It is the 6th longest running Broadway Musical
  • The show won 3 Tony Awards for Best Costume Design: Susan Hilferty , Best Scene Design: Gordon Lee and Best Performance by a Leading Actress: Idina Menzel
  • Idina Menzel was the only actress to also be in the original West End cast
  • The Wicked Witch of the East was the only number not to be featured in the Original Cast Recording because it was mostly dialogue and the producers thought it would spoil the story for people who haven't seen it.
  • Before Wicked opened on Broadway, they had try-outs in San Francisco with 3 different cast Members (Robert Morse as the Wizard,  John Horton as Doctor Dillamond and Kirk McDonald as Boq) and 2 different songs (Making Good and Which Way is the Party)
  • Robert Morse, John Horton, and Kirk McDonald were then replaced by Joel Grey, William Youmans  and Christopher Fitzgerald
  • Two song concepts called Making Good and Which Way is The Party is were replaced by The Wizard and I and Dancing Through Life,respectively.
  • Nessarose was originally supposed to get her own song called "Step by Step" and it was cut for time reasons along with its the use of profanity: " Who cares if they call me a b--ch? Call me a beast? Call me the Wicked Witch of the East"
  • There was originally going to be a song before "Defying Gravity" called "For Goodness Sakes"
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