A tense moment between Glinda (Amanda Jane Cooper) and Elphaba (Emily Koch) in the 2016 national tour of the musical “Wicked.” (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Something Wicked This Way Comes
If we say “school of magic” and you think “Hogwarts,” you’re missing out on a musical theater phenomenon. Picture instead the land of Oz, where our heroines — not Dorothy, but Glinda and Elphaba, aka the Wicked Witch of the West — embark upon a magical course of study at hallowed Shiz University. Such is the premise of the national tour of Wicked, which returns to Houston for five weeks beginning July 6, under the auspices of Broadway at the Hobby Center Sponsored by Bank of America.
Wicked first opened in 2003 on Broadway, where it’s still going strong today, and has been performed in more than 100 cities in 13 countries; nearly 9 million people have seen it in New York City alone. Needless to say, the imaginative retelling of The Wizard of Oz has a following that echoes the popularity of Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera and pre-dates the fervor over Broadway sensation Hamilton.
The magic of Wicked begins with its pedigree, which includes music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell, The Baker’s Wife, Rags, Children of Eden, plus Disney’s Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt), book by Winnie Holzman (creator of the TV series My So-Called Life), direction by Joe Mantello (Sting’s The Last Ship, Pal Joey, 9 to 5, Assassins, Glengarry Glen Ross, Love! Valour! Compassion!) and musical staging by Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying). It’s all based on Gregory Maguire’s best-selling novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. (Parents, never fear: The musical is more family-friendly than the original novel and is appropriate for ages eight and up.)
This collaboration has resulted in more than 100 international awards, including three Tonys, six Drama Desk Awards and four Outer Critics Circle honors. The original cast recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and includes such show-stopping numbers as “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “The Wizard and I.”
What can Houston audiences expect? The tour is led by two powerhouse Shiz alumni: Emily Koch was the standby Elphaba on Broadway, while Amanda Jane Cooper played Glinda on the First National Tour. Joining them are Wendy Worthington as Madame Morrible, Stuart Zagnit as the Wizard, Jake Boyd as Fiyero, Megan Masako Haley as Nessarose, Chad Jennings as Doctor Dillamond, Sam Seferian as Boq (a Munchkin) and Ben Susak as Chistery (yes, a flying monkey).
Trust us, The Wizard of Oz will never look the same again.
What: National Tour of Wicked
When: July 6 – August 14, 2016
Tariff: Tickets from $40
Contact: 800.982.2787, broadwayatthehobbycenter.com