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Wicked the Musical in San Francisco 2009Wicked the Musical in San Francisco

Wicked San Francisco: The Show's Creative Development

The pre-Broadway world premiere of Wicked at the Curran Theatre in 2003 was an essential stop off in the making of this blockbuster musical. The show also returned in 2009 at the Orpheum Theatre and played 660 performances, plus 12 previews.

Changes to Wicked from San Francisco 2003 to Broadway

Defying Gravity bookFor the full story of the Wicked creative team's challenges in San Francisco and as they fixed the show for Broadway, see Defying Gravity. Defying Gravity: The Creative Career of Stephen Schwartz, from Godspell to Wicked. In print and Ebook formats.

For another report see an article reprinted from Theatre Bay Area magazine that includes comments from Winnie Holzman, Schwartz, Carol de Giere, and others. "There's No Place Like Home: Wicked Returns to San Francisco"

Stephen Schwartz wrote "Dancing Through Life" in the middle of the San Francisco run to replace "Which Way's the Party," which didn't seem to convey what he wanted to communicate about Fiyero. "Dancing Through Life" lyrics and Schwartz's comments

From interview with Wicked's bookwriter Winnie Holzman: "Stephen [Schwartz] wisely had insisted on having three months to rewrite in-between the time we closed in San Francisco and when we were to go back into rehearsals in New York. That was crucial; that was the thing that made the biggest difference in the life of the show. That time is what made the show work.

"Friends of mine who saw both [the San Francisco and Broadway editions] couldn't tell what I'd rewritten. But I rewrote on every page. And Stephen wrote new songs. We rewrote very, very carefully, so as not to disturb the things that were working. Kristin landed perfectly in San Francisco, but Idina's character was not quite coming forward — and we knew it was in the writing, not in Idina's acting. We addressed that. A lot of it had to do with her very first scenes."

More Wicked History for San Francisco

Photograph: Broadway PBS DVD Cover.The DVD version of this landmark new PBS documentary about Broadway includes, among others, bonus features: "Wicked: The Road to Broadway" (16 minutes) and rehearsal of "For Good." Enjoy interview clips and footage from San Francisco for the colorful production of Wicked. See stars Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel in rehearsal and backstage, watch Norbert Leo Butz and others rehearse "Which Ways the Party" which was cut in San Francisco, see interviews with Stephen Schwartz, lots more.

BUY IT or get MORE INFO: Broadway: The American Musical - DVD at Amazon.com

WHO'S IDEA WAS IT?: It was Stephen Schwartz's idea to turn Gregory Maguire's novel into a musical. Read our Wicked History page for more development stories.

David Stone, one of Wicked's producers says he's most pleased to bring Wicked "home to San Francisco," moving the current in place Los Angeles production north in January. "People ask me what's been the most exciting moment in this whole process, and it really was that first preview at the Curran. We were standing in the back, Marc and I and Stephen and Joe. Kristin got some nice applause with her opening number. Then the back door opens and this girl runs downstage center, this young, idealistic, hopeful, innocent, beautiful green girl. And the audience went crazy.

"It's the same every night, no matter who's playing it. In that instant, they'd understood that if this character was not who they'd always thought she was, the person they'd feared in childhood, but more complicated than that, then perhaps we all are. That's something that can only happen in live theater, that big idea that happens in a flash. And that was the moment we all looked at each other and said, Ohmygod! Nothing has been quite as exciting as that.

Wicked San Francisco Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle writer David Wiegand praises the performances and show (2009). Orpheum brings green back in 'Wicked' return - SFgate

Pat Craig describes the leads as "flat-out incredible, with voices that must be heard to be believed and acting chops that squeeze every bit of nuance out of the material created by composer Stephen Schwartz and book author Winnie Holzman," and praised other performances as well.

Freelancer for the San Francisco Examiner Robert Sokol writes about Wicked's messages and fun, as well as examines the performances of the current cast. Wicked Good Fun


Wicked Reviews & Articles - 2003 San Francisco production and the 2005 SF Tour

Aug 9, 2005: Wicked - S. F. Chronicle article on improvements

SF Chronicle: Every witch way (includes best photos) [new browser window]

Schwartz and Wicked, etc. San Francisco Chronicle - May 11 [new browser window]- see links on the Chronicle's page for additional articles on Kristin, Idina, etc.

Review of Tour version Talkinbroadway.com - Richard (Who saw the 2003 version as well)

Keep up with Wicked by subscribing to The Schwartz Scene free email newletter with updates on the show's development and other articles about Stephen Schwartz musicals.

San Francisco audiences and critics alike feel a special connection with WICKED, which had its world premiere at San Francisco's Curran Theatre on May 28, 2003. This engagement followed a long development process during which the entire creative team and cast immersed themselves in the musical's launch at the Curran Theatre. From these roots in the city by the bay, WICKED has gone on to become a worldwide phenomenon that has since redefined theatrical popular culture.
Mayor Gavin Newsom proclaimed September 26, 2008 "WICKED Day in San Francisco," welcoming the international phenomenon back to the city where it had its world premiere. Having just celebrated its 5th Anniversary on Broadway, WICKED's four North American and four international companies have cumulatively grossed over $1.25 billion and have been seen by over 15 million people worldwide.

To the main Wicked page

Wicked San Francisco shirtWICKED SHOP

Already a fan of Wicked? Check here for posters, books, tshirts and more. See the Apparel section at Wicked gift shop - see USA store.


Note for those arriving through a search, sometimes Stephen Schwartz's name is misspelled Steven Schwartz or Stephen Swartz.