1. Stephen Schwartz almost didn’t get the rights to the stage production…
By the time Stephen Schwartz knew about Wicked, the original author had already sold the rights to a movie production to Universal studios. Schwartz had to convince both the author and the studio that the stage was a better choice. Aren’t we glad he did! Universal studios eventually signed on to be a co-producer of the stage version.
2. What’s in that Green Makeup?
The now emblematic green makeup that is used on the Elphaba character is actually eyeshadow! Applied in large swaths with a big brush, the eyeshadow works much better than traditional paint or foundation.
3. Imperfection can be endearing…
Idina Menzel initially thought she had lost the role of Elphaba because of a “mistake” in her audition. Her voice cracked when hitting one of hte high notes in “Defying Gravity”. She ran home crying after the audition, convinced she had ruined her chances. The producers thought otherwise, however. They considered the imperfection to be endearing, and eventually, as we know, gave her the role. The rest, as they say, is history.
4. The Novel is Far From a Children’s Book
The novel is not quite as child-friendly as the play turned out to be. In the original work by Gregory Maguire, there are several deaths and disturbing visuals. Elphaba’s sister, for instance, is born with no arms! The eventual play was written to be much more friendly to children, and the musical is recommended for kids as young as 8 years old.
5. Elphaba – What’s in a name?
Perhaps our favorite bit of trivia comes from the creation of the main character’s name. Elphaba was created by taking the initials of the original Wizard of Oz author, L. Frank Baum. L + F + B spells Elphaba!
6. The Show’s Made History – Just Ask the Smithsonian
So popular is the show in American culture that it has made its way into the American Stories exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute. Elphaba’s costume and broom were included in the popular history collection. Pretty cool, right?
7.Wicked on Ice?
Wicked uses over 200 pounds of dry ice for each and every show. The ice is used to create those spooky smoky effects without resorting to chalky smoke machines. With over 5,000 showing performed over 13+ years, this accounts for over 1 Million pounds of dry ice!
8. Embedded in Popular Culture
The play has been featured on numerous shows, including icons like The Simpsons and South Park, and has even made its way across the pond, being featured in Dutch television shows Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden. It’s even drawn parodies from Shrek the Musical and spawned a comedic retelling of Aladdin.
9. Critically Acclaimed? Not So Much…
Perhaps the most surprising tidbit on this list comes last, and its the fact that when the musical launched, it was a critical flop. It was panned by numerous critics including New York Times and Newsday, calling it such things as “overblown, over produced”. Well, what did they know? 13 years later and it is listed as one of the most successful shows in Broadway history…