I’ve always loved The Wizard of Oz. I remember seeing the movie as a child and wanting to be a part of munchkin land, or wanting to skip down the yellow brick road. So naturally, when the show Wicked came to Broadway, I had to see it. Wicked, is based on a novel of the same name, by Gregory Maguire. It’s the untold story of the Wicked Witch of the West. I attended the show on a free ticket, a lucky break. It was a great experience; I remember leaving the theater with the songs playing through my head. I got the soundtrack the very next day and played all the songs on repeat for one entire week. At Karaoke places I would sing all the Wicked songs that were available. I declared Wicked my favourite Broadway show.
This past Saturday I got a chance to attend Behind the Emerald Curtain and take a peek at how Wicked came into existence.
Our tour was lead by Jerad Bortz (ensamble and understudy for Fiyero) and Anthony Galde (swing and understudy for Fiyero, Wizard and Father). They took us through all the stages an actor experiences from audition to the stage. One of the most interesting stories was the fitting. The actor spends the day going to different shops, standing in their underwear in a room of mirrors and getting their measurements taken while being observed by a group of people who are holding clipboard and talking about their body. Intimidating? I think so.
I was blown away by the effort and detail that goes into each costume. Every single costume is custom fitted for each actor who will be portraying that role and some costumes cost thousands of dollars.
Jerad and Tony explained the behind the scene choreography that goes on with the costume changes. There is a system off stage that’s just as detailed as the dancing happening on stage. With limited time between scenes the actors have to know exactly where to go, what they are taking off or putting on and how to move along the line to change. Sometimes they do all of this while STILL singing.
The spoke in detail on the setting up of the set, the masks and the sound (mic placements), then we got to sit in the theater’s orchestra section while they showed us a short film on the making of the musical as well as the jobs of the folks in the background who keep the show running. One thing that struck me was the amount of people behind the scenes that work on the show while there is an audience watching the performance. I believe they said that there were about 100+ people working backstage to make sure each show runs smoothly, this is not including orchestra or actors.
To say that I was impressed with the effort and money it takes to put on Wicked is an understatement. I was blown away by the hard work and many hours. I thought back to the time I saw the show; when I left the auditorium I wasn’t thinking of the people doing the sound or the light, I was remembering the spectacular closing scene of Act 1. I was not wondering about the wardrobe team or the stage team, I was enjoying the look of the stage and the gear-like props that added something different to the setting of Oz. I know that the next time I see Wicked – and there will be a next time – I will probably be engrossed in the show on stage again. However, in the back of my mind I will also remember this day and I am quite sure that I will have a greater appreciation for the hard work that 100s of “invisible” people do on a daily basis to allow me to enjoy the work of art that is Wicked, the Musical.