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Stephanie J. Block & Annaleigh Ashford Join 'Wicked' 10/9

Wicked, Broadway's blockbuster musical, welcomes two new witches beginning Tuesday, October 9: Stephanie J. Block as Elphaba and Annaleigh Ashford as Glinda.

They will lead a cast which also includes Carole Shelley as Madame Morrible, Lenny Wolpe as The Wizard, Sebastian Arcelus as Fiyero, Cristy Candler as Nessarose, Logan Lipton as Boq, and Steven Skybell as Dr. Dillamond.  Julia Murney and Kendra Kassebaum, who are currently playing the roles of Elphaba and Glinda, will play their final performance on Sunday, October 7.

Stephanie J. Block was involved in the development of Wicked when she played the role of Elphaba in the musical's original LA workshops.  She was also the original Elphaba in the first national tour, for which she received the 2006 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress.  She recently starred on Broadway in the leading role of Grace O'Malley in the musical The Pirate Queen and appeared on Broadway as Liza Minnelli opposite Hugh Jackman in The Boy from Oz.  Regional credits include Funny Girl (2000 Robby Award – Best Actress), Crazy for You (2002 LA Ovation Award Nominee), Oliver (2001 Critics Award – Best Actress), James Joyce's The Dead (The Ahmanson Theatre & Kennedy Center), The Grass Harp (Pasadena Playhouse), and Bells are Ringing (Reprise!).

Annaleigh Ashford recently made her Broadway debut originating the role of Margot in Legally Blonde, directed by Jerry Mitchell.  She understudied the role of Glinda in the national tour of Wicked and appeared at the 2005 New York Musical Theater Festival in the musical Feeling Electric. She is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College.

"Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the land of Oz," describe press notes, "One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood.  The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular.  Wicked tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch."

Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by Winnie Holzman, and musical staging by Wayne Cilento.  The production is directed by Joe Mantello.  The Grammy Award-winning original cast recording of Wicked, produced by Stephen Schwartz for Decca Broadway, has been one of the fastest selling Broadway recordings of recent years and has been certified 'Platinum' by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Tickets are available through Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.com. For more information, visit www.wickedthemusical.com. Wicked is performed at the Gershwin Theatre, 222 West 51st Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue.

Photo: Stephanie J. Block as Elphaba (2005) by Joan Marcus

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