This evening, the fourth international production of Wicked finally opens in Oz! Taking the globe by storm, the eighth mounting of this decade's most popular new musical opens at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia's second largest city.
While the creative team behind Wicked remains the same as for the original Broadway production, including Joe Mantello at the helm, the cast is very Aussie. Amanda Harrison stars as Elphaba opposite Lucy Durack as Glinda. The rest of the cast includes Rob Mills as Fiyero, Rob Guest as the Wizard, Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Anthony Callea as Boq, Rodney Dobson as Dr. Dillamond and Penny McNamee as Nessarose.
Advance ticket sales Down Under have been estimated at Australian $10 million (roughly on par with U.S. dollars), so strong that AussieTheatre.com notes:
Wicked is likely to remain in Melbourne for 18 months, and while no tour has been confirmed yet, it is expected to be in Sydney either late 2009 or early 2010, depending on the box office performance of its premiere season.In fact, another 60,000 tickets are going on sale for Wicked Down Under on Monday.
With tonight's opening, there are now a total of eight Wicked mountings playing throughout the world on four continents playing to a global audience of over 13 million people. The worldwide gross box office has been about $1 billion -- more than the take of all but three films: "Titanic," "The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King" and "Pirates Of The Carribean: Dead Man's Chest." Not bad for a little stage show.
Of course, there's the Broadway production, which first opened at Rialto's Gershwin Theatre in October 2003.
Then, on March 8, 2005, the first North American tour began at Toronto's Canon Theatre, and is currently playing Shea's Performing Arts Center in Buffalo through tomorrow before moving on to Michigan State University's Wharton Center in East Lansing on Thursday. A second touring company of Wicked will begin performances on March 7, 2009, at Fort Myers' Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall.
Then in June 2005, the second sitdown production began at Chicago's Oriental Theatre after first hosting the tour. Having broken all box office records for any show in the history of Chicago theatre, this incarnation of Wicked is now slated to close on January 25, 2009 after playing its 1,500th performance and raking in more than $210 million. The musical will depart Chicago while ticket sales are still very strong, so it may, as producer David Stone says, "Go out with a bang."
The third U.S. sitdown production began at Los Angeles' Pantages Theatre on February 21, 2007. This production has been featured on television's "Ugly Betty" and "Deal Or No Deal." While it's been announced that this mounting will close on January 11, 2009 after 791 regular performances, news broke shortly after that the entire production would migrate up the California coast to San Francisco's Orpheum Theatre for the City by the Bay's own sitdown production. Wickedphiles will know that this was the city where the musical first took flight in previews during June 2003, albeit at the Curran Theatre.
Wicked's first international production was launched in London on September 27, 2006 at the Apollo Victoria Theatre where it continues to play (I caught a performance there the following April). The second international production and first in another language began on June 17, 2007 as ウィキッド - The Broadway Musical Wicked at Tokyo's Shiki Theatre, where performances continue (I saw this Japanese language version last December). The third international production and second in another language began on November 15, 2007 as Wicked - Die Hexen Von Oz at Stuttgart, Germany's Palladium Theatre (I saw this German language mounting last November).
As if all this Wickedness thrust upon us weren't enough, a Dutch language version of the show is scheduled for The Netherlands in 2009. Personally, I'm hoping for versions in French and Italian, not to mention Spanish, so I can keep my globetrotting going.
And speaking of globetrotting, two weeks from Sunday, I'll be sitting in Melbourne's Regent Theatre with my favorite mates in Australia seeing this latest production. You can bet I'll have an SOB Revisit sometime thereafter. See you in Oz!
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).
Click here for Wicked (Melbourne) tickets.
Wicked To Finally Land In Oz During 2008 (May 16, 2007)