Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hollywood Becomes Wicked

Hollywood Becomes Wicked

Not since Mamma Mia! became a global phenomenom (or to many, the world's guiltiest pleasure) has a theatrical show grown as fast as Wicked. With a loyal and burgeoning fan base that now extends from London to Los Angeles and beyond, the musical that twists the beloved "Wizard Of Oz" inside out opens in the latter this evening.

Making its home at Hollywood's glorious Pantages Theatre, Wicked already has a robust advance box office, assuring the production of being a hit no matter what the critics might say. Indeed, according the the LA Wicked Web site: "A second block of tickets, which extends the show through early spring, 2008, will go on sale to the general public on March 4, 2007. A pre-sale of those tickets to American Express cardholders is in process."

The New York City production continues to rank as Broadway's highest earning show, regularly raking in more than $1.4 million per week and selling out nearly every seat since it debuted in October of 2003. The sit down Chicago production has been in place since the summer of 2005 and remains so popular that the company has just initiated its own version of the "Behind the Emerald Curtain" tour. London's mounting has been setting box office records ever since it opened across the pond last September. And the North American tour continues to sell out virtually everywhere it goes (it's currently enjoying a return engagement in Tampa).

Which leads me to wondering where this musical juggernaut might land next. While a film version would seem more likely now that Wicked is becoming a fixture in the movie world's hometown, I've heard word that a silver screen incarnation is unlikely until its global appeal can be cemented.

My guess is that before the year is over, an announcement will be made that Wicked will be ready to conquer Oz. Given the largely Australian cast in the West End production and the appeal of the original movie Down Under, surely a Sydney berth is not out of the question. I can just imagine the marketing campaign now.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for LA tickets.
Related Stories:
Were London Critics Mourning West End Wicked? (September 28, 2006)
West End Wicked Opens Tonight (September 27, 2006)
Wicked Witch of the West End Takes Flight Tonight (September 7, 2006)
Jaaku or Neikan? Wicked Set for Japanese Translation (July 24, 2006)
Five Times More Wicked (July 17, 2006)
Wicked's West End Witches Update (May 17, 2006)
Worldwide Wicked Casting News (May 5, 2006)
Encore: Spotlight Week Ending April 30, 2006 (April 30, 2006)

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At 21 February, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

As someone who only recently fell under its spell, I can certainly understand why Wicked is so enchanting and beloved. It's a great, well-told story with catchy tunes and funny, soaring lyrics. I can listen to the songs over and over again.

It works so well on so many different levels: as an homage to one of the most beloved and quotable movies ever (even if the flying monkeys did scare the heck out of me as a kid!), as a political allegory and as an exploration of the trials and tribulations of adolescence.

It's a story most of us know intimately, The Wizard of Oz, and a story that we don't know at all, that of the Wicked Witch. So it's a combination of the very familiar and the very surprising. And it's done with such wit.

Plus, the way it alludes to the movie in subtle and not-so-subtle ways is beyond clever, it's absolutely inspired. And at some point in their lives, just about everyone feels like Elphaba, like they don't quite fit in. So I think the story strikes a chord.

After seven weeks, I can finally listen to "For Good" without breaking down, but it still chokes me up. The most stirring love song in this musical is about the enduring nature of friendship. How great is that!

At 21 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I know that many critics have savaged the show, but I love it. There, I've said it (yet again).

At 22 February, 2007, Blogger StephenMosher said...

I recently got to see the new cast on Broadway and they were WONDERFUL. I didn't think it could happen.

I still love the show as much as ever.

At 22 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

I've seen most of the cast now playing in LA when they were in Chicago. Each one of the transplants is great.

At 22 February, 2007, Anonymous a West End Whinger said...

Oh dear. This may be where we fall out. The Whingers just didn't click with Wicked at all. We bought top whack seats and had a dreadful view and whinged to the management. Unfortunately they have sent us tickets for another performance so we have to go again on Monday. We're a bit grumpy about it. Let us in on the secret. Why does everyone like it? It may help.

At 22 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

It is more than a little bit possible that the show may have changed en route to the West End stage, as is all too often the case. I'll be able to tell you whether that's the case when I visit London this spring to see a few shows.

But perhaps it's also the continued fascination that Americans have with "The Wizard Of Oz." In the states, everyone grew up on it. Since the 1960s, it has been an annual ritual for children to sit down in front of the telly and watch the movie. It's ingrained and part of who we are. Wicked takes that story that we know so well and turns it inside out and makes it new again.

When I see the London production, I'll let you know if it's been dramatically altered.

At 23 February, 2007, Anonymous Andrew Orange said...

Do let the whingers know when you're coming to London so we can buy you a drink and put you straight on a few things vis a vis Wicked. :-)

At 23 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Appreciate the kind offer - but are we limited strictly to Merlot?

At 23 February, 2007, Anonymous a west end whinger said...

Of course not. Andrew also like a Zinfandel: Phil had been known to resort to meths. We don't judge.

At 24 February, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

Steve, you've summed up Wicked's appeal perfectly, and with far fewer words than I used! It is part of our collective memory. I definitely felt some of the same sense of wonder and amazement that I felt watching the movie as a kid. It seems hard to imagine that once upon a time, we actually had to wait for The Wizard of Oz to make its annual appearance on television!


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