As Wicked celebrates 10 years on the Great White Way, Broadway.com is looking back at our own history with the blockbuster musical. We combed our archives of in-depth interviews and red carpet chats to see what Idina Menzel (Elphaba), Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda), Norbert Leo Butz (Fiyero), Joel Grey (the Wizard), Michelle Federer (Nessarose), Christopher Fitzgerald (Boq) and Carole Shelley (Madame Morrible), as well as composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz and scribe Winnie Holzman, had to say about the show that has defied gravity at the Gershwin Theatre for a decade. Read on for tidbits from the original stars of Wicked.
Idina Menzel Keeps Her Wits on Opening Night
"I really tried to embrace the moment. It's rare to be part of something that moves people so much. That experience with Rent went by so fast. I was younger. I didn't even really know what opening night was. And now I'm thinking back on the times I went to Broadway as a kid and the excitement I felt... And I'm realizing that I'm actually a part of that, so I'm learning to take it in, cause so often I shrug it away."
Kristin Chenoweth Finally Experiences a Hit
"I'll never have an entrance like that ever again in my career, so I'm gonna enjoy it, I looked at Idina after the first night and said, 'I guess this is gonna be a hit. This is my first hit!' and Idina said, 'Yeah, this is what it feels like.' ‘Cause she'd had her experience with Rent. And I just cried. First of all, I was back on Broadway. But also cause the audience liked the story and went for a ride with us."
Norbert Leo Butz Reveals the Truth About Idina & Kristin
"They're a couple of bitches, man! They're the most annoying, petty, untalented… No—they're amazing! You put them together and you have the absolute perfect woman. You have, like, Diana…some Greek goddess!"
Joel Grey on a Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity
“It’s fun to do because Idina and I have such a great time with it. How often do you get to dance with a green witch?”
Christopher Fitzgerald Feels Like a Pop Star
“This was my first time seeing something done on so grand a scale. It's crazy how people [reacted to] Wicked, when none of us really understood what was happening! All I knew was, when the music started, about 10,000 teenage girls screamed, and the building shook! And just thought, ‘Wow!’”
Michelle Federer Is Welcomed to the Sisterhood
“I've become speechless around Idina because she's so soulful in her performance and in real life. She was very warm to me, as was Kristin. They knew it was my first Broadway show and made me feel comfortable and welcome.”
Carole Shelley Feels the Buzz
“As we started previews in New York, the buzz for the show was very loud. I've never been involved with anything like it. It was quite frightening to have so much to live up to, an unknown audience's preconception! But soon a very comforting, glowing cloud appeared over us, and I knew that we were in a hit. Friends see the show and come and cry on the couch in my dressing room afterwards.”
Winnie Holzman Has a Raw Revelation
“It was just a few days after September 11, but [casting director] Bernie Telsey suggested we go ahead and have auditions—he says people need something else to think about. Idina is the very first person to audition for the role of Elphaba. I write down ‘passionate, vulnerable, raw,’ and underline the word raw, trying to convey just how riveting I find this girl. A year later, when she's had the role for months, I find that piece of paper and mention it to her. ‘Oh, raw.’ she laughs. ‘That's what people always call me.’”
Kristin Chenoweth Says Farewell
“I wanted to steal my wand from Wicked, but that thing costs like five grand or something. They would have noticed. Wicked was one of the best experiences as an artist, for personal growth, and as an actress, singer, comedienne…I certainly got to wear some great costumes. I worked with a phenomenal company. I was involved with that project from the very beginning, which was a total—for me—four years, and by the end I was doing very inappropriate things with my wand and popping bubbles, and it was time to go. I love the show, but I think my time as Glinda is done.”
Norbert Leo Butz Shares the Lasting Effect of His Costume
“The tights pants in Wicked? I got me a wife out of those. I got Michelle Federer, who was checking out the white pants when I was 'Dancing Through Life.' Now she’s dancing through wife.“
Winnie Holzman Remembers Her First Time
“[Stephen Schwartz] called me from Connecticut to say he'd finished that song he was working on, and would I like to hear it? He played ‘For Good’ over the phone, and I listen for the first time to the song that will make me cry every future time I hear it.”
Stephen Schwartz Recognizes a Wicked Idea
“I was in Hawaii on a snorkeling trip and my friend Holly Near, the folk singer, randomly on the way back to the boat said, ‘I’m reading this really interesting book. It’s called Wicked, and it’s kind of the Oz story from the Wicked Witch’s point of view. And I thought that was the best idea I’d ever heard in my life. It was just so me in so many ways. There was really no way to avoid doing another Broadway musical.”