Many people know the story of “The Wizard of Oz,” with its iconic characters, but what many may not know is that the Wicked Witch of the West wasn’t always wicked.
That’s the storyline behind “Wicked,” the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical that opens tonight at the Times-Union Center. It’s the latest offering from “The Artist Series presents Broadway in Jacksonville.”
The show is based on a 1975 book by Gregory Maguire, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”
It tells the story of the wicked witch and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, years before Dorothy and Toto arrived in The Land of Oz and discovered the Munchkins and the Yellow Brick Road.
The musical production based on the book opened on Broadway in 2003 and a year later received three Tony Awards. The national touring company hit the road in 2005.
This is the second time “Wicked” has been performed in Jacksonville.
“The show is billed as the prequel to ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It’s a family show that appeals to a wide audience. It’s a friendship story and a little bit of a love story and it explains why the Wicked Witch of the West became the Wicked Witch of the West. The message for kids is about judging people by the color of their skin,” said Assistant Company Manager Kelly Ann Gray.
Transported from city to city in a fleet of 13 semitrailers, it takes a crew of more than 200 people three days to set up the show.
“Wicked” tours with about 75 technicians who are assisted in each city by about 150 local stagehands and musicians, said Gray.
Tonight’s performance is the first of 24 scheduled through Jan. 22.
Plenty of good seats are available for almost all of the performances, said Sarah Roy, Artist Series publicist.
Also, a limited number of day-of-performance orchestra seats will be available for $25 each through a lottery, she said.
Each day, 2 1/2 hours before the show, people can arrive at the Times-Union Center box office and have their names placed in a drum. Two hours before the curtain rises, a limited number of tickets will be made available through the lottery.
For show times, tickets or more information, visit www.artistseriesjax.org or call 632-3373.