The other week I was fortunate enough to head down to London to see the glittering West End show, Wicked. From the humble beginnings of life before Dorothy and the clear divide between ‘good’ and ‘evil’, Wicked embarks on telling the true story of Elphaba Thropp, who later goes on to become the notorious Wicked Witch of The West. I’ve been a huge fan of Oz and its many tales for as long as I can remember, so I thought I’d compile a few Wicked Facts! Did you know…?
1. Wicked the Musical was adapted from the award-winning book ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, written by Gregory Maguire in 1995. The book is categorised as fantasy literature and explores many political, sexual and ethical issues in the setting of Oz. Although the book has been published for 20 years, the idea to materialise the piece of fiction into a show did not happen until 1998. It took another five years for the musical to be realised; it debuted on Broadway in October 2003.
2. The original cast on Broadway included Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth went on to star in Pushing Daisies amongst other films and TV series and released a best-selling autobiography and album. Idina Menzel went on to be the iconic voice of Elsa in the Disney film Frozen, as well as performing in other shows and films.
3. One of the most famous songs from the production, ‘Defying Gravity’, has been covered by a number of popular artists and Idina Menzel herself has even released a dance version of the song. While singing ‘Defying Gravity’, the actress playing Elphaba is lifted up into the air by a hydraulic launch system, and the sequence relies heavily on an astounding 60 moving lights, smoke, and wind effects. Although the song is hugely popular, it is consistently (and ironically) outsold on iTunes by the song ‘Popular’, another tune from the first act of the show.
4. While The Wicked Witch of the West didn’t actually have a name in L. Frank Baum’s classic Oz books, Gregory Maguire made sure she had one in the book Wicked. Maguire came up with the name Elphaba by using Baum’s initials – L.F.B. – which cleverly spell out the witch’s name, El-pha-ba.
5. Wicked has become such a cult classic that Elphaba’s distinctive costume and broom are now on display in the ‘American Stories’ exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. The items of clothing were presented to the museum’s iconic history collection by the show’s costume designer, Susan Hilferty, who won a Tony Award for her gorgeous and eclectic creations.
Pretty interesting, right? Have you seen Wicked before? Let us know in the comments below!