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Happy Halloween! “Wicked” Turns 10, Celebrates With Deluxe Reissue

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Wicked - Deluxe“No one mourns the wicked,” goes the opening song of Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked.  But the musical, which last night celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway, won’t have any need for mourners any time soon.  “The Untold Tale of the Witches of Oz” is still going strong as it enters its tenth year and shows no signs of slowing down!  Its fresh new perspective on The Wizard of Oz and intricate backstory of both The Land of Oz and the titular Witch has led Wicked to play to sold-out houses eight times a week at New York’s Gershwin Theatre, not to mention in London, Auckland, Mexico City, Tokyo and Seoul, on two United States tours, and one in the United Kingdom.  To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the musical sensation created by librettist Holzman (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) and composer-lyricist Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) from the 2005 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, UMe’s Verve label is reissuing its Original Broadway Cast Recording in a new 2-CD deluxe edition.  It was originally slated to arrive in stores on November 19 but retailers are now showing a November 25 date.

The stats surrounding Wicked are nothing short of unbelievable.  The musical directed by Joe Mantello (Assassins, Other Desert Cities) opened on October 30, 2003 in New York, and has since played 13 countries, grossed plenty of green (over $3.1 billion!), and been seen by over 38 million theatergoers.  Marc Platt, David Stone, Jon B. Platt and the Araca Group co-produced the musical with Universal Pictures, and Platt recently confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that “it’s the most profitable project in terms of profit margin in Universal Pictures’ history.”  So the witches originally portrayed by Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda) have even overtaken the likes of E.T. and Jaws!  Menzel netted one of the musical’s three Tony Awards (out of ten nominations) for her incendiary performance; Wicked also picked up seven Drama Desk Awards including for Holzman’s book, Schwartz’s lyrics, and Outstanding Musical.

The Grammy Award-winning original cast recording, produced by Schwartz, was released just weeks after the musical’s opening, arriving in stores from UMe’s Decca Broadway label on December 16, 2003.  It, too, has been a success story.  The album peaked at No. 71 on the Billboard 200 in 2012 and 2013 per, and has also reached the Top 5 of the Top Pop Catalog Chart in 2009, 2012 and 2013.  Wicked was certified Double Platinum in 2010, no small feat for a cast album today.  Wicked and its music have also appeared on Glee, Jeopardy, The Simpsons, Ugly Betty and Saturday Night Live, just to name a few.  “Popular,” one of the musical’s songs to take on a life of its own, was sampled by Kanye West and Drake for their own “Popular” in 2010, while more recently, Mika has incorporated the catchy song introduced by Chenoweth into his “Popular Song,” with vocals on the album version by Priscilla Renea and the single by Ariana Grande.  Grande’s single version has cracked the Billboard Top 100 at No. 87.

After the jump: a look back at the 2008 reissue of the cast recording, plus details on the upcoming edition! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 31, 2013 at 10:04