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The Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, was born with a pea-green skin and is considered to be smartest but misunderstood Witch of The Land of Oz. In contrast to her, Glinda the Good Witch is a ravishing and somewhat snooty witch of the region (and not quite what you would expect). Both girls meet in the Land of Oz as the most spectacular musical of the year, "Wicked," begins.

"Wicked" is based on one of the best selling novels, "Wicked: the Life and Times of the "Wicked" Witches of the West," written by Gregory Maguire. Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at the land of the Oz the same way again. In many ways, it's a contemporised, satirical commentary on Oz. Ignoring the obvious ones like a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens. Or the short Munchkins who seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man who becomes a victim of domestic violence. We focus on the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. The Wicked Witch is a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil as the story grows more interesting.

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the Land of Oz, the "Wicked" book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn't so "Wicked" after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, "Wicked" just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Maguire's story begins with a moral about understanding and appreciating differences among people and then becomes a cautionary tale of people in power creating monster villains to distract from their own misdeeds. In the course of the story, he shows that what is a monster to some is a humble, self-sacrificing hero to others. "I'll get you my pretty and your little dog too" is what we all remember from the movie. "Wicked" twists this tag line, and manages to change our perspective. It is hard not to fall in love with Elphaba, and not start dreading her fate. A fate that we all know well from the movie!

The "Wicked" fairytale is brought to life by the Academy Award winner, Stephen Schwartz's music and lyrics and the musical staging by the Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento. The direction of, by 2003 and 2004 Tony Award winner, Joe Mantello, has made the "Wicked" one of the spectacular plays of the year, and its tickets are in high demand.

With a cast led by Broadway legend Ben Vereen, TV icon Rue McClanahan and breakthrough stars Shoshana Bean and Megan Hilty, there's never been a better time to visit the Emerald City. The twists and turns in Gregory Maguire's incredibly imaginative backstory to "The Wizard of Oz" makes the audiences literally gasp with delight. But not only that, "Wicked" is a truly heartfelt story of friendship and love. As Richard Zoglin of Time magazine put it, "If every musical had a brain, a heart and the courage of "Wicked," Broadway really would be a magical place!"

The plot focuses on the witches of Oz prior to Dorthy's arrival from Kansas. The Wizard (Joel Grey) believes in "The Big Lie" and he practices what he preaches, making everyone believe that the show's heroine, the Wicked Witch of the West, is evil. "Wicked" is an ambitious musical intended to satisfy both adults and children, with strong themes in a surprisingly complex book by Winnie Holzman. Throwaway lines that get big laughs are peppered throughout the script.

The scenery and costumes of the "Wicked" spring forth in fairytale colors, allowing children to enjoy the show also. Parents can enjoy the comical dialogue and masterful lyrics. The fairytale is complete with cameos by the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion, while The Wizard, acts as the catalyst that ultimately turns the former friends into the witches that they become. The process of bringing "Wicked" to stage was no easy engineering feat. Costing $14 million, the play's production involved over 150 people and took almost two years to become a reality. Built in Calgary, Ontario the show's complex set took over a year and a half to design and had to travel over 1,500 miles to the Curran Theatre in San Francisco.

"Wicked" the musical is not "Wicked" the novel. While the novel is its source, the musical presents only pieces of it, in a much simplified form, and often diverging wildly from the novel's narrative. One might be tempted to think all this destroys the work; but in the end it enhances it. "Wicked" the musical puts the spot light on the story's numerous ironies and interlaced levels of social commentary. The fiesta continues for 2 hour 30 minutes of utter magnificence. You can't bear to blink your eye during the whole gala, for fear of missing some of "Wicked"'s glory!

Fans of Gregory Maguire's novel "Wicked" may criticize the changes made by stage adapter Winnie Holzman. She finds a way to send Elphaba and Fiyero into a bittersweet sunset together, and she establishes several reference points to the familiar "Wizard of Oz" film that are not in the Maguire book. But most theatergoers will find "Wicked" well worth the big ticket price. It's an astoundingly good show that puts its politics front-and-center, all wrapped up in a big, entertaining package. A pre-Broadway run was opened in San Francisco at the start of 2003. It was not appreciated very well by the locals. In the original cast, Idiana Menzel acted as Elphaba, Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda and Robert Morse played the role of The Wizard. With extensive significant changes, it was reopened later that year at Gershwin Theatre in New York. Morse was replaced by Joel Gray. There were assorted reviews initially but the general mood became a lot more appreciative. The tide completely turned when "Wicked" got the acclaim it really deserved. "Wicked" was nominated for ten Tony Awards, including the award for the best Musical. Menzel got the award of the Best Actress in a Musical. The cast also nabbed a Grammy Award for the Best Musical Show Album.

This fantasy-filled musical was the winner of three 2004 Tony Awards including prizes for Best Costume Design and Best Scenic Design. "Wicked" also had the privilege of being the winner of 2004 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Award! The uphill effort and zealous exertion of Joe Mantello has made "Wicked" a true spectacle for the eyes and ears. The only element of the production that isn't consistently first class is Schwartz's songs. The tunes are a mixed bag, with several bland and forgettable power ballads included with his more distinctive and finely crafted songs. Most of the music rides on the same middling tempos, and little stands out melodically.

"Wicked" earned back its entire initial investment by December 21, 2004. In its first year it grossed more than $56 million. The show has been playing to capacity crowds for almost every recent performance and grosses more than a million dollars every week. The show had a 14 million dollar capitalization. The show set out for extensive national touring in 2005. Successful tours were made to Toronto, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Los Angles, Fort Lauderdale and Hartford. In late June of 2005 a permanent production of "Wicked" separate from the national tour, opened at Chicago's Oriental Theatre with an open-ended run. "Wicked" will be the first show in decades to run on a permanent basis simultaneously on Broadway and in Chicago's North Loop theatre district. The show also has a heart, a brain, and the nerve to have opened on Broadway.

"Wicked" co-producer David Stone reported that the show, which plays the 1,800-seat Gershwin Theatre, had a $26 million advance. "The advance and the weekly grosses are now higher than they have ever been," said Stone. The musical took in $1,196,658 more than any show on Broadway! No surprise, given it's popularity among the literati and the glitterati. "Wicked" is a must see show.
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