Special Reader Review: Wicked

Wicked for Generations to Come

Wicked the Musical has been a force on stage on Broadway since it debuted at the George Gershwin Theatre since October 30, 2003. Wicked is still selling out shows every week, despite the economic downturn and the simple fact that it remains the same, albeit, amazing musical. The casts have changed several times over, but each new actress who takes on the role of Elphaba seems to truly emerge as a force on stage.

The musical has done much more than simply dominate the world of Broadway too; it has almost single-handedly revived the once dead form of entertainment. Once it was only the high school thespian society that really loved the combination of dance, song, and the stage. Now the musical is something people actually take seriously once again. New productions (Jersey Boys) are able to rival classics (South Pacific) and Disney has its own division charged with many musical adaptations of beloved children�s films (Walt Disney Theatrical).

The first sign that Wicked was going to be much more than a simple Broadway smash (which is no simple task at all) was when the first national tour swept the country with such fervor that it found an open-ended home in Chicago at the Ford Center, reviving the Second City�s own interest in the once glamorous theater district.

The musical went from a limited engagement from April 29 to June 12 in 2005 into a run that ended on January 25, 2009. It was not a lack of an audience that initiated the change. The fans kept coming and Wicked the Musical conquered a city known more for its improv scene and its adoration of sports. In the end, Wicked seemed to be defying gravity, earning over $200 million in the city and easily breaking theater box office records. I am sure most of the theater fans in the city would prefer to have seen Wicked remain rather than see Legally Blonde the Musical complete a limited engagement.

Wicked has seen similar success elsewhere, domestically in Los Angeles and with two concurrent North American tours and internationally in London and even Tokyo. The point is not to simply recount the many accolades for the musical or to count the number of Wicked tickets sold, but to reflect on what will be the final verdict for the show adopted by Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holtzman.

Will Wicked the Musical become a production that sells Broadway tickets for years to come, outlasting its luster and becoming another Cats, doing as much to hinder the rebirth of musical theater in the 21st century as it has to aid it? Or will Wicked survive with its reputation in tact (thanks to the musicals ability to poke a little fun at itself, unlike a big budget musical like Andrew Lloyd Webber�s Cats and Phantom of the Opera) and become as ingrained in our cultural history as the Wizard of Oz?

The musical has become such a force that it is set to cross over to the silver screen, with a rumored release date sometime in 2010 according to IMDB. This is pretty amazing in reality. This means that the musical has gone beyond the simple step of selling Wicked soundtracks with the original cast and should make another jump into an even more popular visual medium.

To me, this seems to suggest that the nation and the world is far from bored with the production and that this musical could become one of the most beloved American productions of all time, rivaling such Broadway stalwarts as South Pacific and West Side Story.