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Musical 'Wicked' keeps racking up the big numbers

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Joan Marcus
Curt Hanson as Fiyero and Alison Luff as Elphaba in the touring company of 'Wicked.'

Since its debut in 2003, “Wicked” has racked up some impressive numbers.

Even after celebrating its 10th anniversary Oct. 30, the musical's popularity shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

On Dec. 30, the blockbuster, a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” posted its latest spectacular stat when it became the first Broadway musical to gross more than $3 million in one week.

For the week ending Dec. 30, “Wicked” took in $3.2 million, exceeding its previous record of $2.9 million, which “Wicked” earned during the same week the previous year.

This is its fourth trip to Pittsburgh, where it has not been seen since 2011.

Based on Gregory Maguire's novel of the same name, the musical wraps a dazzling display of scenic effects and fantasy costumes around a story of the early years and friendship between Glinda and Elphaba, who later becomes known as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Familiar characters believed to be good turn out to be baddies and those thought of as green-skinned villains are revealed as misunderstood.

Carnegie Mellon University grad Stephen Schwartz wrote the music and lyrics for the score that includes “Defying Gravity,” “The Wizard and I,” “Popular” and “For Good.”

‘Wicked' by the numbers

8 million: People who have seen “Wicked” on Broadway since it began performances in October 2003

$2.3 billion: Combined total of gross sales for its North American companies alone

90: Major international awards received, including three Tony Awards, a Grammy Award for best musical show album, an Olivier Award, six Helpmann Awards and six Drama Desk Awards

8: Productions running worldwide, in addition to the one on Broadway. There are shows in London, Tokyo and Seoul, and tours in Australia/Asia, Latin America, U.K.-Ireland and two in North America.

1,000: Feet of steel cable used to restring the flying monkey wings during year one of the Broadway production

400: Costume pieces — hats, gloves, shoes, pants, etc. — in the production

5: Languages it has been translated into: Japanese, German, Dutch, Spanish and Korean

1.5: Minutes it takes for 17 actors to change costumes, including wigs and shoes, as they transform from members of a mob to students

9: Number of consecutive years that “Wicked” has been Broadway's highest-grossing show

37: Dragon's wingspan in feet, about the same as a Cessna 172. Despite its imposing size, it weighs a mere 40 pounds

81: North American cities where the national tour has broken the house box-office record

39 million: People who have seen “Wicked”

200: Pounds of dry ice used during each national tour performance

90: Wigs needed to supply each company — 70 for any single performance and 20 in reserve for actors who occasionally fill roles as understudies. All are custom fit and made of human hair.

Alice T. Carter is the theater critic for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or acarter@tribweb.com.

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