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Show’s history to be one of most successful in U.S.

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Since it opened on Broadway 10 years ago, “Wicked” has grossed more than $800 million.

More than 7 million people have seen it, and it has morphed into a worldwide phenomenon currently playing throughout the U.S., London and a Spanish-language version in Mexico City.

One of the most successful musicals in history makes its return to Indianapolis for a 24-show engagement at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis starting Nov. 13. This will be the second stop in Indianapolis for “Wicked,” and after captivating the city in 2010, organizers expect the same response this time around.

“’The Wizard of Oz’ is such a beloved story to all of us, and we’re always curious about what characters’ back stories are. The uniqueness of bringing the back story to life has made the ‘Wizard of Oz’ that much better. To be able to enhance that is incredible,” said Leslie Broecker, president for show organizer Broadway Across America Midwest.

“Wicked” gives an alternate take on the classic “Wizard of Oz” story.

In it, we see how Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, the Good Witch, grew up together and eventually became friends. Characters that traditionally were thought to be good are in fact evil, and the world of Oz is turned upside-down.

The musical opened Oct. 30, 2003, on Broadway, selling out shows and breaking box office records for New York’s Gershwin Theatre. “Wicked” won three Tony Awards and a Grammy Award for best musical show album.

What captures people’s imagination was the unusual relationship between the characters, Broecker said.

“The focal characters are both women. A traditional Broadway musical has a tight relationship between a male and female character, that suffer some trauma but everything is resolved by the end of the show,” she said. “But very few focus on a relationship that starts in a bad place and comes full circle, let alone one that features two women.”

The musical’s message of tolerance and acceptance also has resonated with audiences. A strong current of anti-bullying sentiment stems from the plotline and asks audiences to think about how they perceive the people around them.

“The deeper themes are good and evil, how those exist and where they come from, are things people can relate to,” said Emily Behny, an Indiana native who will play Nessarose, the Wicked Witch of the East. “In today’s world, that’s a very important topic to talk about. Within that, it’s this fantasy world with real situations that people can draw from. But it’s within this fantasy world of Oz that people can be transported to.”

The show that will be staged at the Old National Centre will almost exactly adhere to what has wowed audiences on Broadway for so many years. The visually stunning costumes and sets will be nearly identical to the original, and Tony Award-winner Joe Mantello will direct the production.

That standard of quality is what has brought so many people to see the show, Broecker said.

“It’s coming back to cities again and again because it has this timeless appeal. And it also is one that brings people back multiple times. The relationships between the characters capture the audience,” she said.

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