Based on Gregory Maguire’s acclaimed 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, Wicked is a Broadway musical and Broadway’s fifth-longest running show. Based in the Land of Oz – a parallel universe to the Oz of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Wizard of Oz – Wicked follows the story of the two witches: Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West) and Galinda (whose name later changes to Glinda the Good Witch). The musical has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and book by Winnie Holzman and premiered on Broadway at the Gershwin Theatre in October 2003.
There is elation in the streets of Oz as the townspeople celebrate the death of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda the Good Witch arrives to confirm the good news but asks that the Ozians are not too unkind in their thoughts of the Wicked Witch. When asked by a member of the crowd if she had known Elphaba, she begins the story of how they first met…
Elphaba’s mother was the wife of the governor of Munchkinland and their marriage was not a happy one. One day, when her husband was away, she was visited by a traveling salesman who gave her his magical “green elixir”. After that fateful day, her mother became pregnant and when Elphaba was born, she was born with green skin. Shunned by her father and blamed for many things (including her wheelchair-bound younger sister Nessarose’s disability), Elphaba grew up a pariah. When they came of age, the two girls went to Shiz University, where they were in the same class and where they met Glinda (known then as Galinda). As their father said his goodbyes to the girls, he gave Nessa a pair of silver, gilded slippers as a gift. Upon their arrival at university, their headmistress, Madame Morrible, took it upon herself to care for Nessarose, despite Elphaba’s protestations. Elphaba, shy and unpopular, ended up as roommates with Galinda, who was the opposite, much to the chagrin of both of the girls. As Nessarose was taken away to be with Madame Morrible, a struggle with Elphaba ensued and she unleashed her power as a result of her frustration. Morrible was impressed with her abilities and decided that she would mentor her as a sorceress, with the hope that one day she would meet with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Elphaba’s lifelong dream.
There was great tension between Elphaba and Galinda, which began to get in the way of their studies, including their class with Dr. Dillamond. Dillamond was a goat and the only Animal amongst Shiz’s teachers, which led to him being discriminated against. The teacher confided in Elphaba that there was a scheme afoot to rid animals of their voices and she became determined to let the Wizard know and petition him. Fiyero Tiggular, the charming Winkie Prince, came to Shiz and introduced the students to his ideology of “Dancing Through Life”, which made an impact on the students, who decided to hold a party that evening. Boq, a Munchkin, had taken a shine to Galinda and asked her to accompany him to the dance. However, Galinda had her heart set on going with Fiyero, and so persuaded Boq to take pity on Nessarose and ask her instead. That evening, Boq was ready to confess the truth of his reason for inviting Nessarose to her, but could not go through with it, realizing that this would upset her. When Madame Morrible arrived at the party, she invited Galinda to join her sorcery class, as Elphaba had asked her to. Wearing the hat that Galinda had given her – a witch’s hat – Elphaba arrived at the party, but became shocked and saddened when the other students began to make fun of her. Feeling guilty for tricking her roommate and sorry for her dancing alone, Galinda joined her on the dancefloor and they began dancing together. The other students followed suit and at that moment, the two girls became friends.
When they returned to their room, the two began to confide in each other – Galinda spoke of her longing to marry Fiyero and Elphaba of her father’s resentment and blame toward her for the death of her mother, who did not survive her labor with Nessarose. Galinda decided that she would help improve her friend’s social standing and gave her the nickname Elphie. Seeing a different side of Elphaba the next day, and recognizing that it stemmed from spending time with Galinda, Fiyero told Elphaba that she should stay true to who she is. Dr. Dillamond arrived with the announcement that he was no longer allowed to teach and would have to leave Shiz. Elphaba was incensed at the news, but her classmates remained quiet. They were then shown the cage – a new technology – that would prevent Animals from speaking. In her uncontrollable anger, Elphaba created chaos but quickly saved a lion cub while she and Fiyero fled the scene. Afterward, they were briefly alone together and shared tenderness towards each other, which made Elphaba realize that she was falling for Fiyero. The Prince quickly left to free the cub and escape. Elphaba met Madame Morrible, who told her that she must meet with the Wizard and so they went to the train station with Nessarose, Fiyero, and Galinda who came to wave them goodbye. In an attempt to impress Fiyero, Galinda made the gesture to change her name to Glinda, in honor of Dr. Dillamond. However, her gesture went unnoticed and Fiyero just said goodbye to Elphaba. Elphaba invited Glinda to come with her to the Emerald City to go sightseeing together.
Upon arrival in the city, the two young witches met the Wizard of Oz, who was far less imposing than they had anticipated. The Wizard told Elphaba that if she proved herself, he would honor her plight and Madame Morrible – now the Wizard’s “press secretary” – appeared. Morrible gave Elphaba the Grimmerie – an ancient book of spells that can only be interpreted by the magically accomplished. She was told to cast a levitation spell on the Wizard's monkey servant, Chistery, but instead of levitating, the monkey sprouted wings, as did all of Oz’s monkeys. Suddenly, it dawned on Elphaba that the Wizard had no magical powers and was the person behind the subjugation of the Animals. The Wizard attempted to bribe Glinda and Elphaba, but Elphaba ran away, disgusted. In order to keep the truth from outing, Madame Morrible announced to all of Oz that Elphaba was the “wicked” power behind what was happening to the Animals. Elphaba cast a spell on a broomstick and fled, flying through the air.
"The most complete, and completely satisfying, musical I've come across in a long time." - Elysa Gardner, USA Today
"Winnie Holzman's script keeps the gags coming as it cleverly subverts the film that spawned it. Packed with spectacular coups de theatre and magical effects." - Charles Spencer, The Daily Telegraph
""Wizard of Oz" fans will be fascinated by all the backstories, answering such questions as "Is Glinda really that good?" and "Where did the flying monkeys come from?" But the best thing about Wicked is its stars, whose talents cast a powerful spell." - Rome Torre, NY1
"What a spectacle this is! Keep your eye on the witches. These wonderful girls from Oz are a delight." - Linda Winer, Newsday
"Built on songs by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, the show is steeped in talent." - Ben Brantley, The New York Times