Toronto Star

A good thing Wicked this way comes

- RICHARD OUZOUNIAN

The most successful musical in the world is coming back to Toronto. Producer David Stone told the Star that his smash hit Wicked will return to the Canon Theatre in June 2010, presented by Mirvish Production­s. “Toronto was the first city that we ever toured to,” said Stone from his New York office last Friday, “and we can’t wait to get back there.” As for that “most successful musical in the world” statement, it’s no idle boast that this prequel to The Wizard of Oz makes. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, it tells the early histories of the leading characters from the iconic tale and helps us understand how one witch got to be good, while the other turned out, well, wicked.

During the final week of 2007, there were seven companies of Wicked playing across North America, Europe and Asia. Their cumulative gross for those seven days was $11.2 million (U.S.), which is a figure believed to be unmatched in modern theatre records. To add to that, the individual grosses of the production­s in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Louis were the highest in each of their theatre’s histories, with the St. Louis figure ($2.29 million U.S.) also making it the highest-grossing show in North American touring history.

Wicked has played Toronto twice already — in 2005 and 2006 — selling out both engagement­s and having to turn away thousands of disappoint­ed theatregoe­rs who didn’t purchase tickets in time.

During the last weeks of the 2006 run, Wicked also establishe­d a weekly record for top-grossing show in Toronto history, reaching $1,821,359.

The recently announced top gross for Dirty Dancing (another popular show presented by Mirvish) of $1,347,525 was a record for the Royal Alexandra Theatre’s 100year history, but not the entire city.

After opening on Broadway to mixed reviews in October 2003, Wicked has gone on to be one of the amazing success stories of recent times.

Although the original suppositio­n was that the teenage girls with whom the show is nearly an obsession were driving its sales, Stone said that audience studies have proved “that Wicked has a broad and universal appeal, regardless of sex or age. In fact, it scores equally well with almost every single demographi­c in the market,” which is a fact that became evident very early on.

Within a few months of its opening, it was selling out regularly on Broadway, which it continues to do in the fifth year of its run.

The national tour, which began in Toronto in March 2005, has broken records everywhere it’s played, while the sit-down Chicago production is still going strong after 1,000 performanc­es and the Los Angeles version is rapidly closing in on its first anniversar­y.

There are also companies playing in London, Stuttgart, Germany and Tokyo, with one due in Melbourne, Australia, this July and another opening in the Netherland­s in 2009.

Elphaba, the girl who grows up to be the Wicked Witch of the West, sings at the first act curtain about how “nobody . . . is ever gonna bring me down” and the sentiment clearly holds true not just for her, but for the show she happily inhabits.

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 ??  ?? Megan Hilty (left) and Shoshana Bean in the 2006 production of Wicked.
Megan Hilty (left) and Shoshana Bean in the 2006 production of Wicked.

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