Producing and creating ‘Wicked’

Picture by noaml on Flickr

Picture by noaml on Flickr

Wicked’ is one of the biggest musicals in the world. But the production of the show was a long journey to get what we know today. It opened in 2003 and it was one of the most expensive musicals at that time. It cost 16,9 million dollars in total but it’s also the third highest grossing musical in history. The most expensive musicals in history are basically from Disney (‘Aladdin’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Tarzan’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘The Lion King’…) and the super production ‘Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark’. Even being so expensive, the producers didn’t expected all the success that would come after the opening night of ‘Wicked’ the day before Halloween in 2003.

Without doubt, ‘Wicked’ is a very unique show. It’s a combination of art and commerce that made it possible. The show is a product that works really well, everything is planned and organised and it’s made to surprise. Of course lots of musicals are created like that, but in this case, ‘Wicked’ was born because of the admiration that the American people feel for ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I honestly think that it’s made in some way that the fans of the classic film will love it but also the people that don’t go really often to the theatre will love it too, because they will be surprised by the effects and the choreographies.

I still remember the first time I saw ‘Wicked’. I was shaking watching Elphaba flying and singing ‘Defying Gravity’. But the last time I saw the show, for the third time, and after having seen lots of musicals, I’m afraid to say that I wasn’t impressed. I’d lost the surprise already, but still I felt a weird feeling inside me of being in front of something huge and enjoyable. The show has something very powerful, kind of magic and you can feel the atmosphere even only listening to the soundtrack.

The show was presented for the first time in San Francisco the 28th May 2003. It was a great opportunity, because during 8 weeks the producers and creators could see what was working well and what wasn’t before going to New York. Before the opening night, some new songs were added, some scenes where changed and some actors and actresses were replaced. For example, Robert Morse left the production and Joel Grey joined it to be the Wizard.

Once the show opened, the reviews were divided, as usual. But something very unusual happened at the same time. The show broke the box office records of the Gershwin Theatre. Everybody wanted to discover the show and be amazed by all the effects. According to the producers, the show needed to sell all the tickets for one year and a half to get the investment back. We all know that they did it and after 12 years, it is still one of the best selling musicals in Broadway and London.



2 pensamientos en “Producing and creating ‘Wicked’

  1. Chow Kim Wan

    Actually, Phantom is also one of the most expensive productions ever… Along with Miss Saigon. Of course, Aladdin and The Lion King are also expensive to produce. I am not so sure about the rest… In fact, I recently just wrote about the commercial drive in these huge modern classics. Do have a read on my blog!

    As for Wicked, the money is heavily backed by Universal Pictures, because of the history of this production. I talked about it in my most recent article as well. But yeah, when it comes to these humongous hits, no one knows it would be that great a success. Sometimes, when you write a show like My Fair Lady, you have a rough idea that it will not be a flop. However, when making big-risk investments like these, you never know how well the community will receive it. The same happened for Les Miz and more recently Aladdin on Broadway.

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