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Unlimited: ‘Wicked’ By the Numbers

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


The Tony-winning musical is as ‘popular’ as ever, and has the stats to prove it

One short day in the Emerald City has become a lifetime of fun (or, at least, 16 years of fun to date) as Wicked celebrates its 16th Anniversary this Oct. 30. The story of the witches of Oz, complete with a celebrated Stephen Schwartz score including such hits as “The Wizard and I,” “Popular,” “Dancing Through Life,” “For Good” and empowerment anthem “Defying Gravity,” has been working its magic on Broadway for well over a decade and a half. In celebration of Wicked’s longevity, impact and sheer wonderfulness, we are bringing you some numbers that demonstrate just how special this show is.

Hannah Corneau currently stars as Elphaba in ‘Wicked’ on Broadway (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Hannah Corneau currently stars as Elphaba in ‘Wicked’ on Broadway (Photo: Joan Marcus)

Setting the Scene
At each performance of Wicked, 250 pounds of dry ice is utilized to create the foggy atmosphere for many of the scenes, particularly the darker and more magical ones. That adds up to 2,000 pounds per eight-performance week, and that adds up 104,000 pounds of dry ice per calendar year.

Preparing the Oz-tumes
Did you know that there are 68,200 sequins on Glinda’s bubble dress, keeping her shining and shimmering for her special entrance as she is lowered to the floor during “No One Mourns the Wicked”?

Speaking of costumes, there are 269 costumes in the show. There are a lot of characters to dress, from Munchkins to flying monkeys, from students at Shiz Academy, to the denizens of the Emerald City. There are also 107 hats in the show. The busy wardrobe department and quick-change dressers backstage are also responsible for seamlessly making 238 costume changes happen throughout each performance. What is the fastest quick-change in the show? When Elphaba and Glinda transition to their Emerald City outfits, which happens in an astounding 15 seconds.

The Lady in Green
How many Elphabas have there been since the show first opened on Broadway in 2003? So far, there have been 21 actresses who have donned the green makeup and pointy hat. Of course, the first was Idina Menzel who won a Tony Award for showstopping performance. She was followed by Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa, Ana Gasteyer, Julia Murney, Stephanie J. Block, Kerry Ellis, Marcie Dodd, Nicole Parker, Dee Roscioli, Mandy Gonzalez, Teal Wicks, Jackie Burns, Willemijn Verkaik, Lindsay Mendez, Christine Dwyer, Caroline Bowman, Rachel Tucker, Jennifer DiNoia and Jessica Vosk. The current Elphaba at the Gershwin Theatre is Hannah Corneau.

There’s No Place Like Home
The Gershwin Theatre, where Wicked has been running these past 16 years, is located at 222 West 51st Street in Manhattan. The venue, which was previously named the Uris Theatre and opened in 1972, has a 1,933-seat capacity, making it one of Broadway’s largest theaters. It has a 65-foot wide adjustable proscenium arch and an 80-foot wide stage, making it also one of Broadway’s largest stages, perfect for spectacularly-sized show such as Wicked. The theatre is named after the brothers George and Ira Gershwin.

Guaranteed to Be “Pop-u-lar”
It cost 14 million dollars to produce Wicked on Broadway, a hefty price tag for a Broadway musical. While the majority of Broadway shows are unable to repay their investment, Wicked managed to recoup all 14 million in 14 months (meaning it grossed, on average, a whopping 1 million dollars per month). The show’s most successful week came at the end of 2018, with a weekly gross of $3,411, 819 in the week ending December 30th.

Wicked received 10 Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Actress (Idina Menzel), Best Actress (Kristin Chenoweth), Best Score (Stephen Schwartz), Best Book (Winnie Holzman), Best Choreography (Wayne Cilento), Best Orchestrations (William David Brohn), Best Scenic Design (Eugene Lee), Best Costume Design (Susan Hilferty) and Best Lighting Design (Kenneth Posner). It took home three trophies, with Menzel, Hilferty and Lee winning their respective categories.

A Future That’s Unlimited
And finally, there are the number of performances the show has run on Broadway. As of Oct. 13, 2019, Wicked has been with us for a staggering 6,664 performances. What is more, it doesn’t look like it will be closing anytime soon, as the show remains one of Broadway’s biggest attractions. Now that’s magic.  

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. His forthcoming book, Sitcommentary: The Television Comedies That Changed America, will hit the shelves in October, 2019. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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