One of the most successful and longest-running Broadway musicals that triumphed the Tony and Grammy Awards, Wicked is celebrating its 10th anniversary. This musical hailing from the West End will soon kick off its world tour, with Shanghai as one of the stops along the way.
First premiered on Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre in October 2003, Wicked the Musical is based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West written by American novelist Gregory Maguire, unveiling an untold episode of the Wizard of Oz.
The story centers on the relationship between Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. As young girls in sorcery school in the Land of Oz, they are the most unlikely of friends with grave contrasts in their personalities and perspectives. Glinda rises to become the most popular girl in school with her beauty and refined social skills, while Elphaba’s green-colored skin destines her to be the unwelcomed classmate since the very beginning.
When Glinda accidentally opens her heart to Elphaba at a ballroom party, the two girls set aside their differences and gradually become friends. However, after discovering a scheme of the Witch Government during their visit to Emerald City, both girls decide to take on different calls to action, which once again drives them apart.
Though the book is not originally designed for children due to its violence and sexual elements, the musical adaption scripted by Winnie Holzman and masterfully scored by the award-winning composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz makes it suitable for all ages.
Broadway divas Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth starred in the original version and have won praises from worldwide audiences and critics for their impeccable performances. Following in their footsteps, Jacqueline Hughes and Carly Anderson, two talented West End musical actresses, will offer their rendition of the most profound friendship in the Land of Oz.
Unlike many young girls who grew up as Wicked fans, Anderson confesses that she didn’t see this musical until she was in college. As much as she is attracted to Elphaba, she feels Glinda’s character is slightly overlooked by contrast. “Personally, I think Glinda is just as honest as Elphaba is, and that’s why I’m so drawn to her. And somehow I knew that I’d play this role one day after watching the show.” Anderson is able to relate to her character on a personal level as well, “I definitely share the part of her that is ambitious because it’s what’s required in this industry. And shoes – I really like shoes!”
While Anderson finds being able to stand on stage watching Elphaba soaring up to the sky singing ‘Defying Gravity’ to be a dream come true moment, Jacqueline Hughes shares her secret thoughts on reviving this iconic scene.
“I admire Elphaba big time. She is so independent and confident in her own skin. This song is such a challenge vocally and I can’t over think it; I have to go with the emotion.” Jaqueline admits. “I’ve gone through half of the journey [as Elphaba] by the end of Act One, so I let the momentum of the show take me the rest of the way.”
According to Company Manager Anthony Fields, all the original scores will be kept the same because they have won many awards and already work brilliantly, whereas other elements will be adjusted, such as choreography.
“Two or three years ago, the original creators and lighting designer put in couple of new bits to the performance, for instance, the flying effect.” Without giving away too much detail, Fields continues. “So we’re quite proud of ourselves [and our adjustments] for the new Wicked because this might get us better accolade than some other versions. That’s a big thumb-up for us.”
While this sensational musical is filled with lighting effects, witches flying across the stage and a multitude of dazzling green costumes, it’s the storyline and the music that really speaks to audiences regardless of age.
Wicked is most certainly suitable for a general audience, but some elements of the performance may be scary for very young children. The performance is recommended for children ages 7 and up.