Saturday, July 12, 2008

Something Wicked This Way Opens In Australia

Something Wicked This Way Opens In Australia

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 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.
Related Stories:
Wicked To Finally Land In Oz During 2008 (May 16, 2007)

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At 12 July, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of friends of mine went to the opening night performance in Melbourn - although we've already seen the show in previews. I stood outside the premiere, snapping pictures of, uh, A-list Aussie celebrities - - none of whom you'd know.

I admire this dedication of yours to fly around the world seeing all the theatre you can - I'd love to be able to do it. Have a great time in Melbourne, it's my home town and I love it.

At 12 July, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Crossoverman: Many sincere thanks for providing the link to the photos from this evening's opening.

And come on! Of course I know who Paul Mercurio is. Any fan of Baz Luhrmann's "Strictly Ballroom" will most definitely know who he is. Amazing what 16 years can do!

As someone who has been to your fair city twice before, I'm relishing the opportunity to return. While you and I both know you live in a world-class city, the fact that shows like Wicked are making Melbourne its first stop in Oz tells the theatre world that it's a destination worth reckoning.

Hope you get to see Wicked!

At 12 July, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, of course - Paul Mercurio! I forget how well "Strictly Ballroom" traveled.

Melbourne is the theatre captial of Australia. Most big shows open here first - the notable exception being Billy Elliot, which opened in Sydney and moves to Melbourne next year.

I did see Wicked in previews a couple of weeks ago - seventh row. It was amazing. I've seen a lot of theatre this year - big and small productions - but this was one of the few that hit me as wonderful on every level. And even the weak performances (in comparison) will improve over time. I've already got tickets to my second and third times.

Enjoy your stay - and enjoy Wicked!

At 12 July, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I know you started planning this trip months ago, so I'm very excited for you. Yay, it's almost here! You'll be seeing Oz in Oz. That's like seeing Chicago in Chicago!

I listened to the Broadway cast cd today in honor of your upcoming trip, and I just love it. It would have been so great to see the original cast. Since I've only seen Wicked on tour, I'd love to take in the Broadway show someday. And of course, I'd love to see Rondi Reed in Chicago.

And you should definitely continue your Wicked globe-trotting, wherever it takes you!

At 13 July, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Crossoverman, Appreciate the lesson on where and how imported shows land in Australia.

I noted that the Michael Grandage production of Guys And Dolls is also currently playing Melbourne. I loved his original West End production with Ewan McGregor, Jenna Russell, Jane Krakowski and Douglas Hodges when I saw it nearly three years ago. I'd be curious to know how it has held up Down Under and whether it would be worth returning to.

Finally, I'm glad to know you've had an opportunity to see Wicked and that you'll do so again. As a huge fan of "The Wizard Of Oz," I love how Wicked turns that story on its ear.

At 13 July, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Thanks Esther. My countdown to departing the U.S. has begun, and I'm quite thrilled to be returning to Australia - one of my favorite places on earth. It would be enough that it's a beautiful destination, but I love it best for its gracious and friendly people.

Now the absolutely quintessential Australian shows I saw last time Down Under were Barry Humphries in Barry Humphries: Back With A Vengeance while in Melbourne, and Priscilla Queen Of The Desert - The Musical while in Sydney. I mean, how could it get any more Aussie than that?!

Oh, and finally, I would love to see Wicked in places like South Africa, Argentina and Dubai. Talk about opportunities to globetrot - Marc Platt and David Stone ... are you listening?!

At 14 July, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the production of Guys and Dolls, the first preview performance and I wasn't all that thrilled with it. I didn't particularly know the score that well and some of the actors they cast seemed to be there for name recognition only - TV names, not stage actors - so I was severely underwhelmed. But I will admit it was the first preview, so perhaps they just needed to warm into their roles?

I am also a big fan of The Wizard of Oz - and Gregory Maguire's book. Wicked takes the essence of the book and filters it through the 1939 film and we have a wonderful stage show. I love that amongst the spectacle there are so many layers about how we treat people who look different - and how labels don't often reflect the reality of a situation.

And, yes, there's nothing more Australian than Barry Humphries - and Priscilla!

At 14 July, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Crossoverman, Sorry to hear about Guys And Dolls.

You indicated you've read the Gregory Maguire's book "Wicked," which is most certainly a very different story than that portrayed during the stage version of Wicked. I love them both.

At 14 July, 2008, Anonymous Elisabeth said...


Have a great time in Australia. I'm a regular reader (and occassionally post on your blog) but felt I had to give a shout out to an Australian post!

I'm an Aussie who has lived in NY for 4 years now. I've seen more shows in those 4 years than I ever saw in Australia but what we lack in quantity we make up for in quality.

I hope Wicked is fantastic and also as a Sydney lady originally - make sure you visit our "Emerald City". (I'm sure a rabid Wicked fan like yourself will get the reference.

At 14 July, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Elisabeth, Appreciate the shout out. I'll be in the Aussie Emerald City beginning Sunday evening.

This will be my fifth trip to Australia, and no trip is complete without a visit to Sydney. I'm essentially bookending my trip there.

Previous visits have also had me to Adelaide, Cairnes, Canberra, Clare Valley, Great Barrier Reef (Heron Island), Green Mountains, Hobart, Kangaroo Island, Melbourne, Perth, Port Douglas/Daintree and Yarra Valley (Mount Rael).

While I've now been to all six Australian states (as well as the Australian Capital Territory), this time, I'll be venturing to both Jervis Bay (en route from Sydney to Melbourne along the coast) and the Northern Territory where I'll finally be taking in Uluru (Ayers Rock), smack dab in the middle of the country. I can't wait!

While my love of theatre will certainly have me seeing at least a couple shows while Down Under, it's the people who have won my affection. I'm thrilled I'm about to see some of my favorite people on the planet.

At 04 August, 2008, Blogger katya said...

Steve, I'm sorry you will possibly have missed the Princess Theatre Guys and Dolls, one of my favourite musicals. It's such a wonderful production and would have shown you several of our best-loved music theatre performers. Marina Prior as Adelaide is amazing, very different from the Phantom Christine type of role I've seen her in before - a complete revelation in more ways than one! I loved Gary Macdonald as Nathan Detroit; I didn't care that he can't really sing, very unusual for me. Music theatre stalwarts Lisa McCune and Uan Stenlake were convincing and enjoyable also. The only other actor, as opposed to music theatre performer I can think of is Magda Szubanski in just small role. The male choreography was just wonderful, in all making what I think may be my favourite of all the productions of this show I've ever seen. Perhaps you did get to it. Anyway I hope you've had an enjoyable time here.

At 04 August, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Katya, I was seriously tempted to take in the production of Guys And Dolls, which ranks as my second favorite musical of all-time. Fortunately, I caught the production when it was on the West End (with Ewan McGregor, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Russell and Douglas Hodge). I loved it!

But thank you for reminding me about Marina Prior. I took in a concert of Rodgers & Hammerstein tunes at the Sydney Opera House that included her. She's amazing.


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