Things are not going well for two freshmen at Shiz University in Oz. The beautiful, popular Glinda and the awkward, green-colored Elphaba have just been thrown together as college roommates. Elphaba is a social reject, while Glinda oozes confidence and boasts shallow ambitions; Oz, let alone the confines of a shared bedroom, is hardly big enough for the both of them. So begins Wicked
, a new musical that explores the back story of the two witches many of us first met in The Wizard of Oz
, the fantastical 1939 movie about a wanderlusting teenager upchucked by a nasty storm into a colorful world of talking allegories. Based on Gregory Maguire's best-selling novel (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
tells us what really happened between the Oz-born, wand-wielding adversaries in the years that preceded the fateful day poor Dorothy was unwillingly strapped into those hot little red sparkly numbers.
"It's rare to see a whole musical built around two women and their friendship," says Winnie Holzman, the writer who adapted the novel to the stage (in collaboration with lyricist/composer Stephen Schwartz and director Joe Mantello). Wicked has its world premiere in San Francisco before it's tentatively slated, depending on its local success, to hit Broadway in October. Starring New York stage favorites Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel as the post-pubescent sorceresses, the show reveals the complexities of friendship, while inviting us to question what we know about the two witches -- and the concepts of good and evil.
"[The witches'] relationship is complicated, because they appear to be very different," says Holzman, who wrote for the TV series thirtysomething and created My So-Called Life. "But they wind up changing each other's lives forever."