What is Wicked?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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Wicked, published in 1995, is a parallel work, one that uses as is basis an existing work that is not part of a franchised series. Many parallel works begin as novels, such as Grendel by John Gardner, based on the Old English poem Beowulf, and Wicked is such a work. It is a novel by Gregory Maguire and illustrated by Douglas Smith, the full title of which is Wicked: The Life of Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Both the book and the derivative musical, Wicked are based on the world created in L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Two sequels to the novel, Son of a Witch and A Lion Among Men, have followed.

The book begins prior to Dorothy’s arrival in Oz, and tells about the childhood and upbringing of Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, her college roommate Galinda—later called Glinda—and the details of their lives and careers. Prejudice and the rights of minorities form important themes. Many elements of the Oz culture—like the Emerald City, Munchkinland, and the ruby slippers—are included, but the themes and the role Dorothy plays are cast in a very different light.


Wicked the Broadway musical, with a book by Winnie Holzman and songs and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz is based on the novel by Maguire. It opened in October of 2003 to mixed reviews, but has broken box office records nonetheless. The 2003 production won three Tony Awards of the 10 it was nominated for: Best Actress, Costume Design, and Scenic Design. In addition, it won six Drama Desk Awards from 11 nominations and a Grammy for Best Cast Album. It has since had productions in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco in the United States; Tokyo and Universal Studios in Japan; the West End in London; Melbourne in Australia; and Stuttgart in Germany. Osaka, Japan and Sydney, Australia productions are scheduled for 2010.

In turning the novel into a musical, many striking plot changes took place, so that the story diverges both from Baum’s version and from Maguire’s novel. In addition, it offers alternative explanations for the origins of three key Baum characters: the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow. On the other hand, in honor of the composer Harold Arlen who scored the film adaptation of Baum’s book, Schwartz included the first seven notes of the hit “Over the Rainbow” from that production in the melody of the melodic material referred to as the “Unlimited theme.”


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Post 3

@medicchristy: There is a musical based on the best-selling novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” by Gregory Maquire. Maquire’s novel is a parallel novel of the 1939 film by L. Frank Baums’ classic story “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz.

The musical celebrated its 7th Anniversary on October 30, 2010, and is currently the 25th longest-running show in musical theatre history and the 17th longest-running Broadway show.

Post 2

Was there a musical based on this book?

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