Wicked is a musical based on the novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. It opened on Broadway on October 30, 2003, and is the highest grossing musical to date. It has led to productions in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Melbourne, San Fransciso, Sydney, Oberhasen and Osaka, as well as two North American tours that have visited over 30 cities. For complete cast listing see Wicked cast lists.
Wicked tells the backstory of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and what happened before Dorothy Gale arrived in the land of Oz, although the musical serves as a better prequel to the popular 1939 film than to L. Frank Baum's original book.
The citizens of Oz celebrate the "death" of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West. Glinda, the Good Witch of the North descends in her bubble to reinforce the message that wickedness does not beget rewards, only punishment. ("No One Mourns the Wicked"). She pauses, however, to recall the circumstances of the Witch of the West's birth and early life, pointing out that it "couldn't have been easy".
The scene then shifts to the witch's conception and birth, years earlier. While Frex, the Governor of Munchkinland, was away, his wife Melena had an affair with a mysterious man who possessed a bottle of green elixir. Their love child, Elphaba Thropp, was green-skinned, and thus spurned and ridiculed wherever she went. Melena had one more daughter, this time with her husband Frex, but died after delivering the second baby - the beautiful but crippled Nessarose. Frex raised Elphaba and Nessarose as a single parent, and doted on Nessarose while resenting Elphaba. When enrolling the two girls at Shiz University, Frex presents Nessarose with a pair of silver jewelled shoes; Elphaba receives no such gift.
It is at Shiz University that Elphaba meets Glinda, who was called Galinda at the time ("Dear Old Shiz"). Galinda takes an immediate dislike to Elphaba, based on her appearance. In a moment of anger, after being informed that she will be rooming with the spoiled Galinda and not her handicapped sister Nessarose, Elphaba accidentally reveals an innate magical talent. This impresses Madame Morrible, the headmistress of Shiz, who notes that Elphaba's talents may be of use to the Wizard of Oz. Elphaba is exhilirated at the prospect of working with the ruler of the land, and looks forward to a bright future in the wake of her unhappy childhood ("The Wizard And I"). For the first time in her life, she believes that her "future is unlimited". Galinda on the other hand, fails to impress Madame Morrible, and this accentuates her illwill towards Elphaba. The two room-mates make it perfectly clear that they loathe each other, and that the feeling is bound to last forever even though it was based on first impressions alone. The other students at Shiz align themselves with Galinda, condoling with her for having to put up with someone as "disgusticified" as Elphaba. ("What Is This Feeling?").
Doctor Dillamond, a Goat and Shiz University's only Animal professor, is teaching History when the class is interrupted by an anti-Animal slogan on the back of his blackboard, apparently written in blood: "Animals should be seen and not heard." After dismissing the class, he confides in Elphaba that something is causing the Animals of Oz to lose their powers of speech ("Something Bad"). Elphaba believes that the Wizard should be notified, convinced that their great and powerful ruler wouldn't let something so bad take place in Oz. The darkness of this scene is off-set by Doctor Dillamond's repeated mispronunciation of Galinda's name as 'Glinda'.
Fiyero, a "scandalacious" Winkie prince, arrives at Shiz and immediately impresses his own brand of cavalier, carefree living on the students ("Dancing Through Life"). Galinda gravitates towards him immediately, and indeed she seems to be the perfect partner for the happy-go-lucky prince who doesn't like to "think too hard". While getting ready for a swanking party at the local Ozdust ballroom, Galinda and her friends discover a pointed black hat that belonged to Galinda's grandmother, which they give Elphaba as a 'present', hoping to make her look as ridiculous as possible. When a persistent Munchkin boy called Boq tries to be Galinda's date for the evening, Galinda tells Boq that what would really make her happy is to see the wheelchair-bound Nessarose go out with him instead, making it seem like she wants him to do a good deed when in reality, she simply wants to get rid of an ardent but unwanted suitor. Nessarose, who seems to have scarcely more friends than Elphaba herself due to her crippled condition, is overjoyed when Boq asks her out; she looks forward to finally having a fun evening, and asks Elphaba if there is any way to repay Galinda for 'kindly' setting Boq up with her.
At the dance, Galinda is surprised by the appearance of Madame Morrible, who gives her a training wand and tells her that Elphaba has insisted she be included in Morrible's Sorcery Seminar. Clearly, despite apparent misgivings, Elphaba has done as her sister requested and found something nice to do for Galinda. Elphaba arrives wearing the hat Galinda had given her, only to be scorned and derided. Defiant, she proceeds to dance alone, without musical accompaniment. Fiyero is impressed that Elphaba does not seem to care what anyone thinks of her, but Galinda realizes that this is not true. Feeling guilty, she joins Elphaba on the dance floor, thereby sparking a new friendship between the two. Meanwhile, Nessarose comes to the realisation that Boq only asked her to the dance out of pity, but the Munchkin boy tells her that she is "so beautiful" and that this is why he really wanted to be her date. Nessarose is now convinced that she and Boq "deserve each other", just as Galinda is convinced that she and Fiyero "deserve each other"; but Boq isn't sure what he has got himself into, while Fiyero is already intrigued by Elphaba.
After the dance, Galinda and Elphaba have a heart to heart in their room. Elphaba confides that her father was so afraid that Melena's second child would also turn out to be green-skinned, that he had his wife eat milk flowers during her second pregnancy. However, this resulted in Nessarose being born prematurely with her legs tangled up, and caused Melena to die at childbirth. Elphaba reveals that this is why her father hates her. Galinda comforts Elphaba, and, moved by a desire to help her new friend, Galinda decides to give Elphaba a complete make-over and make her popular, for no one knows more about what it takes to be popular than Galinda ("Popular").
The next day, Ozian officials take Doctor Dillamond away from the university. The new history teacher arrives with a frightened lion cub in a cage, revealing that Animals that are kept in cages will never learn to speak. Outraged, Elphaba casts a spell over the whole class except for Fiyero, and together they steal the cub and set it free. There is a hint of chemistry between the pair, but Fiyero leaves, embarrassed. It begins raining, and Elphaba takes refuge under a bridge and laments that it would be impossible for someone like Fiyero to love someone like her ("I'm Not That Girl"). Madame Morrible finds Elphaba and announces that she has been granted an audience with the Wizard. Elphaba's spirits are immediately raised. ("The Wizard and I - reprise")
At the train station, Galinda and Fiyero see Elphaba off on her journey to the famed Emerald City. Galinda complains to Elphaba privately that Fiyero's affections toward her seem to be waning. Fiyero has brought flowers for Elphaba as a going away present, and seems to be more interested in her than he is in Galinda. In an attempt to impress Fiyero, Galinda announces that she will change her name to "Glinda", in honor of Doctor Dillamond's persistent mispronunciation. Fiyero does not appear to notice and, feeling bad for Glinda, Elphaba invites her along to see the Wizard at the Emerald City. When Boq expresses frustration about his ruse as Nessarose's boyfriend, a guilty Galinda suggests that maybe Boq isn't the right person for Nessarose. However, Nessarose has fallen in love with Boq, and insists that it's she herself "that's not right", being in a wheelchair; she wishes Elphaba all the best for her meeting with the Wizard, saying that their father will be so proud. Elphaba has mixed feelings about leaving her sister, but Nessarose resolves to manage on her own.
After a day of sightseeing in the Emerald City ("One Short Day"), Elphaba and Glinda meet the Wizard. Eschewing special effects, which he employs for the benefit of most visitors, he invites Elphaba to join him in his work, presenting himself as a fatherly figure ("A Sentimental Man"). As a test, he asks that Elphaba give his Monkey servant Chistery the ability to fly, using an ancient book of spells called the Grimmerie, which not even Madame Morrible has been able to decipher. Elphaba demonstrates an innate understanding of the lost language in the Grimmerie and successfully gives Chistery wings with the right incantation. The Wizard then proceeds to reveal an entire cage full of monkeys, who also have wings now because of Elphaba's spell, and remarks that they will make good spies to report any subversive Animal activity. Realizing that she has been used, that the Wizard and Madame Morrible themselves are responsible for the Animals in Oz losing their speech, and that the Wizard has no power of his own, Elphaba runs away with the Grimmerie, pursued by the palace guards.
Elphaba and Glinda run into the tallest tower, where they hear Madame Morrible declaring to all of Oz that Elphaba is a "Wicked Witch" and is not to be trusted. Elphaba enchants a broomstick to fly, and tries to convince Glinda to join her in a crusade to expose the Wizard as a fraud and save the Animals of Oz. She is sure that together she and Glinda will be "unlimited", and indeed Glinda momentarily considers flying away with her best friend, but ends up refusing, being unable to resist the call of popularity as a member of the Wizard's team. When the guards find them in the tower, Elphaba says that Glinda is innocent, but she herself vows to henceforth fight the Wizard and his regime with all her power, even if it means "flying solo". As she rises from the stage with the broom (knocking down the guards in the process), other Ozians come running in and are convinced that the levitating and openly defiant Elphaba is indeed a wicked witch as Morrible announced. As the curtain descends, Elphaba prepares to fly away from the Emerald City on her broomstick, towards "the western sky". ("Defying Gravity").
Time passes, and everyone believes that Elphaba is Oz's biggest threat ("No One Mourns the Wicked (Reprise)"). There are rumours that Elphaba's soul is so impure, that mere water could melt her away.
Glinda and Morrible hold a press conference to announce Glinda's surprise engagement to Fiyero, who has been made Captain of the Guard ("Thank Goodness"). The citizens of Oz are thrilled for Glinda, who has proved to be popular beyond her dreams as a spokesperson for the Wizard. Fiyero does not believe that Elphaba is really a villain, despite the Wizard and Madame Morrible's propoganda, and he loses more and more interest in Glinda. Glinda herself misses her friend Elphaba but aligns herself with the Wizard and Madame Morrible nevertheless, in order to perpetuate her ever-growing popularity among all the people in Oz.
Meanwhile, Elphaba arrives at Frex's residence in Munchkinland seeking refuge, because after all, "there is no place like home". She learns that Nessarose is the Governor now, and that Frex had died "of shame" after Elphaba defied the Wizard and went renegade. A bitter Nessarose repudiates Elphaba for disgracing their late father. Indeed, the new Governor of Munchkinland is not impressed with her sister's efforts to rescue Animals, considering that Elphaba never thought to use her magic powers to rescue Nessarose herself from her disability. To assuage her feelings of guilt, Elphaba enchants Nessarose's jeweled shoes, finally enabling her to walk. Nessarose summons Boq, who had been forced to stay in the Governor's house under Nessarose's new laws and take care of her. Boq tells Elphaba that her sister is "as wicked as" she is, for Nessarose had stripped the Munchkins of their rights in order to keep him with her. Nessarose doesn't think any of that matters anymore, believing that Boq will stay with her of his own accord now that she is no longer a cripple, but a normal young woman. However, Boq says that he must return to Glinda and try to stop her from marrying Fiyero, now that Nessarose can walk and thus no longer reliant on anyone to help her. Nessarose is crushed and furious, but Boq says that he lost his heart to Glinda the moment he first saw her, and insists that he will leave, going so far as to brandish a knife in front of Nessarose, warning her not to try and stop him now. A desperate Nessarose tries to cast a spell on Boq from the Grimmerie, hoping to make him lose his heart to her, but she pronounces the words all wrong and causes Boq's heart to literally shrink. While Elphaba attempts to save his life with another spell, Nessarose reflects on how being all "alone and loveless" has led to her wicked actions; she thinks that she deserves no one but the "girl in the mirror", as punishment ("The Wicked Witch of the East"). Elphaba saves Boq by turning him into a Tin Man who doesn't require a heart; she leaves Nessarose despite Nessa's frantic pleas for her older sister to stay with her, claiming that nothing she does will ever be enough for Nessa. Upon seeing Boq transformed into the Tin Man, a horrified Nessarose lays all the blame on Elphaba. Boq runs away in fear, leaving Nessarose flat, as Elphaba did.
Elphaba returns to the Wizard's palace to free the rest of the Winged Monkeys. The Wizard attempts to enlist her services again by agreeing to set them free and even clear Elphaba's name if she uses her powers for him rather than against him; the two of them actually start to bond as the Wizard explains some of the circumstances of his arrival in Oz from America. He was once a "corn-fed hick", who was crowned King of Oz after being blown into the magical land in a balloon and being mistaken for a wonderful wizard ("Wonderful"). Upon discovering a now-speechless Doctor Dillamond among the Wizard's monkeys, Elphaba realises that the Wizard will never change and attempts to escape, running into Fiyero in the process. Confirming his love for Elphaba, he runs off with her. Glinda sees this and is crestfallen that she has been betrayed by those closest to her ("I'm Not That Girl (Reprise)"). In an attempt to lure Elphaba and finally capture her along with Fiyero, Glinda suggests that they spread a rumour about Nessarose being in danger. Madame Morrible realises that Elphaba is too smart for a mere rumour to work, and thus arranges for Nessarose to actually be destroyed by means of a cyclone.
In a dark forest, Fiyero and Elphaba express their mutual love ("As Long As You're Mine") but are interrupted when Elphaba senses that her sister is in danger, after receiving a vision of a flying house approaching. She flies off to help but is too late, arriving just after Dorothy's house has landed on Nessarose, killing her. Elphaba's grief turns into fury when she learns that Glinda gave Dorothy Nessarose's jewelled shoes, which had turned ruby subsequent to Elphaba's enchantment; the shoes are the only remnants of her sister. The palace guards arrive on the scene and capture Elphaba, but Fiyero intervenes and allows Elphaba to escape before surrendering himself. The guards take him to a nearby cornfield to be tortured until he tells them where Elphaba has fled. At one of Fiyero's family's castles in the west, Elphaba tries to cast a spell to save Fiyero's life but, thinking she has failed, she angrily resolves to accept her reputation as "wicked" ("No Good Deed"). She vows never to perform any good deeds again, seeing as how all her attempts to do good have backfired.
Meanwhile, Boq/the Tin Man and the citizens of Oz prepare a witch-hunt ("March of the Witch Hunters"). The lion cub that Elphaba freed at Shiz is also at the gathering and turns out to be the "Cowardly" Lion. Boq tells the citizens that because Elphaba fought the lion's fights for him, he never learned to fend for himself and thus became a coward; again, Elphaba's good deed is lost amongst the crowd. Boq/the Tin Man says that he will prove he is heartless by helping Dorothy kill Elphaba, as per the Wizard's request. Seeing the witch-hunt and realizing that Nessarose's death was no accident, Glinda confronts Madame Morrible, who in turn orders Glinda to just "shut up" and "smile", pointing out that Glinda has what she wants - the public's admiration.
Resolved to set things right again, Glinda travels to Elphaba and Fiyero's castle in the west, to persuade her old friend to let Dorothy go, but Elphaba refuses. The "Wicked Witch of the West" does, however, start to talk peacefully with Glinda and resumes treating her like a friend; she goes onto acknowledge that she is "limited", while Glinda has accomplished so much more since their time in university together. Glinda in turn forgives Elphaba for running away with her fiancé, acknowledging that they both have "blame to share". Elphaba makes Glinda promise not to clear her name, but to allow her to disappear. She hopes that Glinda will be able to take charge in Oz and do all the good things that she herself was unable to do. Glinda agrees, and the two realise that they are no longer the people they were when they first met in university; they have truly "changed for the better" as a consequence of knowing each other. ("For Good")
As the mob arrives at the castle, Dorothy throws a bucket of water over Elphaba, apparently melting her. Melena had left Elphaba the bottle of the mysterious green elixir she consumed with her lover the night Elphaba was conceived, and it is revealed that Elphaba's father was none other than the Wizard himself, after Glinda discovers the same green elixir in his chamber. Madame Morrible surmises that Elphaba had magic powers because she was "a child of both worlds" - both Oz and the outside world. Glinda tells the Wizard to leave Oz in his balloon or else be exposed to the public as a humbug. The Wizard obeys, crestfallen that he vilified and ultimately destroyed his own daughter.
Now in a position of power, due to her enormous popularity, Glinda proceeds to send Madame Morrible to prison. Meanwhile, Fiyero had been turned into the Scarecrow when Elphaba cast her spell to prevent his torture and death at the hands of the Ozian guards in the Munchkin cornfield. He had accompanied Dorothy to his Winkie castle, of course, and when everyone else has left, he opens a trap door; Elphaba, very much alive, emerges. She had not actually died when Dorothy threw water on her, but merely descended into the trap door. Fiyero tells Elphaba that if the two of them want to be safe, they must leave Oz forever. Elphaba agrees, and although she wishes she could tell Glinda that she's alive, Fiyero thinks it's better if no one knows.
Glinda addresses the citizens of Oz, returning to the opening scene of the play. She proclaims that she will reform the government and thus truly live up to her title as "Glinda the Good". Elphaba and Fiyero leave Oz forever, as Glinda continues her bittersweet celebration with the citizens of Oz ("Finale").