Best Wicked Behind-The-Scenes Facts
1. The process of painting actors green for Elphaba in Wicked has become more efficient over time, taking only about 20-30 minutes now. The green base is achieved using Chromacake in Landscape Green by MAC, applied with a paintbrush and a mixture of Chromacake and water.
2. Elphaba’s makeup is constantly touched up throughout the show, even when the actor is not onstage. This not only maintains the green color but also reflects the evolution of Elphaba’s character. In Act 2, her makeup becomes darker and more dramatic, with winged eyeliner, additional contour, and a darker lipstick.
3. Lindsay Mendez, who portrayed Elphaba on Broadway in 2013, revealed that even after finishing her run in the show, she would still find traces of green makeup “in the pores of her skin” due to being painted green eight times a week for nine months.
4. The iconic riff at the end of “Defying Gravity” was added to the song by Idina Menzel after she was cast as Elphaba. Kristin Chenoweth, who played Glinda alongside Idina, mentioned that these notes were not originally written until Idina joined the production.
5. During Elphaba’s flying moment in “Defying Gravity,” the actor steps onto a small platform and presses their back against a mechanical device. A belt locks them into place, and a computer offstage indicates when they are securely locked. The lift is covered with fabric matching Elphaba’s outfit to conceal it from the audience.
6. In the song “Popular,” when Glinda exclaims, “La la…,” it was an improvisation by Kristin Chenoweth that has been adopted by every Glinda who has taken on the role. Kristin explained that she envisioned Glinda as a ballet-loving, girly girl in her room growing up.
7. In the early readings of the show, there was originally a song called “Making Good” intended to be Elphaba’s first song. However, it was later replaced by “The Wizard and I.”
8. Another song that underwent changes after the initial readings was “Which Way’s the Party?,” which was replaced by “Dancing Through Life.” The decision was made because “Which Way’s the Party?” did not effectively introduce the character of Fiyero.
9. The first seven notes of the classic Wizard of Oz song, “Over the Rainbow,” are incorporated in what Stephen refers to as the “Unlimited Theme.” This musical theme can be heard in songs like “The Wizard and I,” “For Good,” and “Defying Gravity.”
10. The name “Elphaba” for the Wicked Witch of the West was derived from the initials L, F, and B, which represent L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Gregory Maguire, who wrote the novel on which the musical is based, named the character.
11. When designing Glinda’s signature bubble gown, costume designer Susan Hilferty drew inspiration from a 1950s Dior gown and Princess Diana’s wedding dress. However, legal obstacles had to be overcome, as the dress resembled what Glinda wore in The Wizard of Oz movie.
12. Glinda’s bubble dress weighs approximately 14 pounds and has undergone four iterations since its introduction in 2003. The current dress features 68,200 handsewn blue and white sequins.
13. Elphaba’s final dress was designed by taking inspiration from Earth and gems to create a grounded appearance. While it may appear black, it is actually filled with darker colors and constructed using over 40 yards of fabric.
14. One of the most challenging quick changes in the show occurs when approximately 17 ensemble actors transition from the mob to students at Shiz University. They have only about a minute and a half to change costumes, wigs, and shoes.
15. The moment when Chistery sprouts wings and becomes a flying monkey proved to be a difficult costume challenge. To create the illusion of growing wings, the actor’s harness holds the wings under the costume. The wings are then deployed on cue by pulling a string.
16. While writing the song “For Good,” Stephen sought inspiration from his daughter to make it authentic and emotional. The song explores the theme of friends bidding farewell.
17. Willemijn Verkaik holds the record for the longest-running Elphaba, with over 2,000 performances in Germany, the Netherlands, Broadway, and the West End. She has performed the show in Dutch, German, and English.
18. The fog used on stage in Wicked has become a memorable element of the show, particularly in the opening, “Defying Gravity,” and “As Long as You’re Mine.” The Broadway production reportedly utilized 942,000 pounds of dry ice over its 15-year run.
19. The dragon that looms over the Wicked stage is a marionette operated by crew members. Different ropes control various parts of the dragon, such as the wings and the head.
20. The design of the massive Oz head seen in Wicked was inspired by the construction of the Tin Man costume in The Wizard of Oz movie. By analyzing the Tin Man’s costume, the set designers envisioned how the Oz head would appear if built in the world of Oz.