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Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Casting a ‘Wicked’ enchantment

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‘Wicked’ sets up in Overture Center
Crew explains how story is compelling, everyone can identify with it

It’s a story we all know well.


It’s about a little girl named Dorothy Gale, a girl who found herself swept into a magical land and into the story of a lifetime.

It goes like this – after a tornado leaves her stranded in the land of Oz, little Dorothy joins forces with a scarecrow, a man made out of tin and a cowardly lion in a journey down a yellow brick road. Their mission: to find the renowned Wizard of Oz and find a way home.

Upon finally reaching the Emerald City, the small band of friends are put to the test – they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West, a woman known for a cackling laugh and skin as green as the emeralds in the nation’s capitol.

From there, well, you know the rest. However, there are two sides to every story.

To help put the pieces together is “Wicked,” the musical based on Gregory Maguire’s bestselling novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” The show, which will take the stage at the Overture Center from Wednesday to Oct. 10, proves that sometimes, there’s a different story that needs to be told.

“Wicked” tells the story of Elphaba, the tragically green-skinned girl who grows up as a misunderstood outcast. As a young adult at Shiz University with her wheelchair-bound sister, Nessarose, Elphaba meets her match in Galinda, a perpetually perky, blonde, pink-donning nemesis. Although their relationship begins as a stubborn rivalry, it eventually gives way to a friendship put to the test by their former allies. Between Elphaba and Galinda, who would later re-christen herself as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, “Wicked” tells the tale of the true meaning of friendship, and what is worth risking to maintain it. It also teaches another valuable lesson.

“[‘Wicked’] tells a really touching story about how to not be worried about how you’re perceived,” said Chris Peluso, who plays love interest Fiyero in the Madison show. “(It’s about) how to be okay with who you are, whoever you are.”

“Wicked’s” history dates back to 2003, when it debuted on Broadway. It would quickly prove to be a smash hit, earning more than $56 million in its first year alone. “Wicked” would also be nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning three for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design and Best Actress, which went to Idina Menzel for her portrayal of Elphaba.

Although “Wicked” is a musical, it certainly has a dark side. Between a bitter rivalry, a corrupt government and the eventual persecution of a misunderstood woman, “Wicked” has more than its fair share of grit. To add to the drama is a love triangle between Elphaba, Galinda and Fiyero, a conceited prince with a penchant for partying.

“He’s going to college because, why not, it’s fun,” Peluso said of his character, Fiyero. “He literally looks at every school he goes to as, ‘How can I party the most in this situation, how can I get the most people to have fun with me?’

Yet Fiyero’s encounters with Elphaba would be life changing.

“She helps him realize how unhappy he is with the way he lives his life,” Peluso said. “With hurting other people’s feelings, with disregarding other people’s emotions for his own.”

The show is currently on its second national tour, with recent stops in Minneapolis and Milwaukee. And although Madison isn’t exactly Broadway, Peluso says the touring show and Broadway versions are nearly identical.

Between an awkward leading lady, show-stopping songs and a heart, Peluso said “Wicked” is a musical offering unlike anything out there.

“It takes such an iconic novel and movie and makes it into something completely new and refreshing,” he said.

But according to Peluso, it’s more than just innovation that makes “Wicked” the global phenomenon it has become.

The young people who don’t think they fit in… It’s a story that they can watch and [say], ‘You know what? It can turn out great. I can amount to something great.'”

“Wicked” will be at the Overture Center for the Arts Wednesday through Oct. 10. Tickets are $36 to $96. Order tickets online at, or by visiting the box office.

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