On 27th September 2016 Wicked celebrates a stupefying 10 years in the London’s West End. To mark this very special occasion, we’ve conjured up our very own Elphabet: The definitive A to Z of the wonderful witches of Oz. It’s even been “spell” checked…
A is for Acting Royalty
Here are some notable names who have appeared as Elphaba and Glinda since the show opened in London 10 years ago:
Idina Menzel, Kerry Ellis, Cassidy Janson, Shona White, Ashleigh Gray, Alexia Khadime, Savannah Stevenson, Rachel Tucker, Louise Dearman*, Willemijn Verkaik, Nikki Davis-Jones, Hayley Gallivan, Natalie Andreou, Stevie Tate-Bauer, Michelle Pentecost
Helen Dallimore, Emma Hatton, Annalene Beechey, Dianne Pilkington, Louise Dearman*, Gina Beck, Savannah Stevenson, Sophie Linder-Lee, Suzie Mathers, Sarah Earnshaw, Lucy van Gasse, Carina Gillespie
*Actors who have played both roles.
B is for Boq
Boq is the Munchkin love interest of Elphaba’s sister, Nessarose. Sadly, Boq is in love with Glinda. When Nessarose tries to cast a spell to make Boq fall in love with her, she stops his heart. To save him, Elphaba turns him into a Tin Man. The role was originated in London by James Gillan.
C is for Costumes
Wicked’s sumptuous designs, by Susan Hilferty, use sky, light, rainbow and stars for Glinda. By contrast, Elphaba’s costumes come from the earth, like mica, coal or jewels. In the Shiz University scenes, the characters of Glinda and Elphaba respectively wear the lightest and darkest shades of all the students to stand out.
D is for Dr Dillamond
Dr Dillamond is a professor of History at Shiz University and is revered for his great knowledge and wisdom. He is a Goat, and although in Oz, animals are marked out as sentient beings, the Wizard pronounces new laws to restrict the rights of animals and after Dillamond’s arrest, he loses the power of speech.
E is for Elphaba and The Emerald City
When Elphaba begins university, her talent as a witch is immediately spotted by Madame Morrible. Elphaba is even more talented than Morrible gives her credit for and in befriending Glinda, the two form a powerful alliance. But something bad is happening in Oz and the Emerald City harbours darker secrets.
F is for Fiyero
The role of Fiyero was originated in London by Adam Garcia. In Gregory Maguire’s novel, Fiyero hails from the Vinkus and is a Prince of the Arjiki Tribe. Neither Elphaba nor Glinda are immune to his handsome looks and charm, leading to conflict between the friends.
G is for Glinda, Gillikin and the Grimmerie
Galinda arrives at Shiz University from the Upper Uplands in northwest Gillkin – a country to the North of the Emerald City. She can be snobby and insecure, but her tendency to travel by bubble is a real crowd-pleaser. The Grimmerie is the book of spells given to Elphaba by Madame Morrible. It’s a must-have for Wicked fans – you can order your own Grimmerie on Amazon.
H is for Halloween
Nothing says “I love Wicked” more than turning yourself green for Halloween. If you’re looking for that perfect shade of Elphaba, you’ll need MAC’s landscape green eyeshadow. Watch Idina Menzel being greenified here.
I is for Idina
Way before playing Elphaba in Wicked, Idina Menzel was wowing Broadway audiences as Maureen in Rent. But it’s her vocal performance in Disney’s Frozen which captivates her younger fans. Let it go, Idina…let it go.
J is for Joe Mantello
Before directing Wicked, Joe was part of the original Broadway cast of Angels in America. More recently seen by TV audiences in The Normal Heart, a visit to the Joe Mantello Wikipedia page reveals the staggering breadth and depth of his talent.
K is for Kristin
The role of Glinda was taken in London by Helen Dallimore, but it’s Kristin Chenoweth who will forever be known as Glinda, the Good Witch who just missed out on the Tony to her co-star.
L is for Lyman Frank Baum
The letters L-F-B pronounced in sequence are how Elphaba was named. Baum wrote the original tales of Oz and died in 1919 – long before Judy Garland ever set foot on the yellow brick road. L Frank Baum was influenced greatly by his belief in Women’s Suffrage – a spirit which lives on in Oz’s witches.
M is for Morrible and Munchkin Country
Munchkin Country is home to Boq and it is here that Dorothy Gale’s house lands, killing Nessarose. However, it is Madame Morrible, headmistress of Shiz who can control weather and is really to blame for the tragedy.
N is for Nessarose
In the novel by Gregory Maguire, the self-righteous Nessarose lives in solitude. In the Musical, she is infatuated with Boq. After she is killed, Nessarose’s enchanted shoes are given to Dorothy, to the fury of her sister Elphaba.
O is for Oz at the Oliviers
Despite missing out on the four Olivier Awards for which it was nominated in the 2007, Wicked went on to win the Audience Award for Most Popular Show in 2010 – proving good things come to those who wait.
P is for Popular
As Schwartz himself explained “[The Song “Popular”] is meant to be as shallow as possible…but it’s also political. Glinda refers to the fact that politicians and heads of state get by not because they’re particularly smart, but because people like to hang out with them.”
The Quadling Country (to the South of the Emerald City) has a red brick road – but who wants to follow that? Confusingly, both the 1949 film and Maguire novel combine the Witch of the North (Gillikin) and Witch of the South (Quadling) into one character – Glinda.
R is for Reviews and Rewrites
Wicked began try-outs in San Francisco in 2003 at the Curran Theatre. Initial reviews were mixed but after 3 months reworking the book and score, including the removal of Fiyero’s original song “Which Way Is The Party” – replaced with “Dancing Through Life” – the show became a Broadway smash.
S is for Schwartz and Shiz
Stephen Schwartz’s musicals include Pippin, Godspell, Children of Eden and of course, Wicked. Film lyrics include Pocahontas, The Prince of Egypt and Enchanted. Schwartz studied at the Juilliard School and Carnegie Mellon University – unlike Elphaba and Glinda, who attended Shiz – a sort of Musical Hogwarts.
T is for Themes
Two musical themes run throughout the score for Wicked. Elphaba’s theme began life in The Survival of St Joan (1971) and is used to convey different emotions by changes in instrumental scoring. The “Unlimited” theme uses the first 7 notes of Somewhere Over The Rainbow – an inside joke.
Many notable Elphabas and Galindas started out this way. Kerry Ellis, who covered Elphaba during Idina Menzel’s run in London, went on to enjoy star billing in both the West End and on Broadway.
V is for Verdigris
Verdigris is the colour which copper turns when left exposed to the air. Schwartz uses it in “The Wizard and I”: “And though folks may to an absurd degree/ Seem fix-ed in on your Verdigris/Would it be alright by you/If I de-greenify you?”
Wizards and Winkies
Elphaba’s curious green skin is, it is heavily implied, the result of an affair between the Governor of Munchkinland’s wife and a mysterious stranger with a strange green elixir which just so happens to be owned by The Wizard of Oz. To the west of Oz you’ll find Winkie Country – a vast expanse of country also known as “The Vinkus”.
X is for Xerophile
A Xerophile is a plant or animal which needs very little water. Many Ozians believe that water will kill Elphaba – something she turns to her advantage late in the show.
Yellow Brick Road
The famous ruby slippers Dorothy wears to follow the yellow brick road were actually an idea of screenwriter Noel Longley for MGM to make use of the new technicolor – in fact they are silver shoes. The yellow brick road stayed yellow.
Z is for Zephyr
Derived from the Old English Zefferus meaning “personification of the west wind” or the Latin/Greek Zephuros “God of the West Wind”, no other word sums up Elphaba so perfectly.
If you’re still hungry for more Wicked facts, here are some terrific fan sites:
Wicked’s Wikipedia page
Wicked’s official London site
The definitive list of Wicked cast members
A list of international Elphabas
A list of US Elphabas
Why wait? Book tickets now for Wicked and marvel at the magic of the West End’s Wickedest Hit!