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Many people are first introduced to The Wizard of Oz universe through the 1939 fantasy film. Based on L. Frank Baum’s children’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, director Victor Fleming, producer Mervyn LeRoy, and a trio of screenwriters brought the story to life using technicolor technology. The Library of Congress calls the film the most seen movie in history. Because of the popularity and impact, a number of creatives have developed tangential stories based around The Wizard of Oz, such as The Wiz—an African-American inspired take with rhythm, blues, Motown, gospel, and funk sounds starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross—as well as Oz—an Australian interpretation where band groupie Dorothy finds herself seeking the final concert of “The Wizard,” a glam rock singer. One of the best takes on the classic story is Wicked. It delves into the background of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Before Wicked was a musical, it was a novel penned by Gregory Maguire. Maguire freshens classic fairy tales by telling stories through the villain’s point of view. In Wicked, the Wicked Witch of the West from Oz developed into a misunderstood, bullied girl named Elphaba who, despite her green skin, is talented, fiery, and smart. She conflicts with the peppy, popular, ambitious Glinda (who most people know as “Glinda the Good” in the classic story). When composer-lyricist Stephen Shwarts and librettist Winnie Holzman got ahold of this prequel story, they developed a knock-out musical production.
The musical originally starred knock-outs Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda. Together, they—and the rest of the cast—rolled out a new playlist from the Oz fandom. Songs like “No One Mourns the Wicked,” “Dancing Through Life,” “Popular,” and “Defying Gravity” stole the hearts of listeners with their impeccably performed showtune style.
More than a decade after its release, and several Tony Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and Grammy Awards later, Wicked is still a regular in the theater scene. Many consider it a must-see modern Broadway show. The show, including intermission, is 2 hours and 45 minutes long. It is recommended for audience members 8 years or older. This means that it is perfect for families looking for wholesome entertainment. School-aged children—especially pre-teens and teens—will relate to the school-based story and themes surrounding bullying, crushes, and working together. All audience members will be warmed by the moving musical numbers and throwback to the world of Oz. If you have not yet experienced Wicked, grab your tickets today.