Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz has become one of the most successful musicals of all time. The musical is told from the perspective of Glinda, the good witch, and Elphaba, the Wicked Witch whom, it appears, is killed by Dorothy throwing water on her near the end of The Wizard of Oz. Its plot begins before and carries on up to and after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz, with several references made to the 1939 film and L. Frank Baum’s original novel.
First premiering on Broadway at the Gershwin theater in 2003, starring Kristen Chenoweth as Glinda and Idina Menzel as Elphaba, Wicked has since spawned many productions around the world, smashing box office records across the globe. At this present time, the show holds weekly box office records in Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago and London. The West End production and North American tour have been seen by over 2 million people (you could say the show defies gravity).
It comes as little surprise, then, that talk of a film adaptation has been rife for a long time, with various directors attached to the project, and various names rumored to star, as well as a wide variety of possible release dates set. However, nothing has come to fruition until now, with Universal Pictures confirming that Wicked will hit the big screen in 2019, with previously announced musical stalwart Stephen Daldry set to direct.
Daldry’s history is diverse and full of exceptional works. In the West End, he has directed An Inspector Calls, Skylight, and The Audience (with Helen Mirren and later Kristin Scott Thomas), all of which made successful transfers to Broadway. However, he is perhaps best known for the wonderful Billy Elliot, having directed both the film and stage versions. Joining Daldry for Wicked will be Marc Platt (Into the Woods, Bridge of Spies) as producer, with the three-time Tony Award-winning stage musical adapted from Gregory Maguire’s bestselling novel by book writer Winnie Holzman (My So-Called Life) and three-time Oscar-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin), also collaborating on the screenplay adaptation.
For many, talk will now naturally turn to potential stars for Wicked. Menzel and Chenoweth are a possibility, though they’re now in their mid-40s and it’s been a decade since either of them played Glinda or Elphaba. Rachel Tucker has been the most successful and long running Elphaba since Menzel’s departure, having played the role in the West End, then on Broadway and now currently back in the West End once more, while Jackie Burns is the longest running Broadway Elphaba.
Daldry may turn to someone who has already appeared in the roles, or he could decide to bring in a big named star with a strong musical background, such as Anne Hathaway or Samantha Barks, both of whom appeared in the film adaptation of Les Miserables. Emily Blunt has been a popular choice for Elphaba in the past, though she is now signed on to play Mary Poppins in Disney’s reboot. As Glinda, names such as Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), and Kristen Bell (Frozen) have also been suggested, but really it’s anyone’s guess right now.
Wicked will be released in U.S. theaters on December 2oth, 2019.