Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a girl who was expecting a birthday. She was going to turn 12. Twelve! She was very excited. Even more exciting was the idea that one of her gifts was a trip to New York City to see a play on Broadway. Now, she had seen several plays before – and good ones at that, but she had never seen a play on Broadway. Why, she had never even been to New York City before. This promised to be a great adventure.
Tickets were purchased three months in advance. Lots of waiting and excitement and anticipation ensued. Then, finally, the day came: Saturday May 14, 2011. The girl and her friend had a sleepover the night before because they would need to get up very early in the morning to meet the commuter train that would take them into Grand Central Station, into the heart of the city.
The girl got all her clothes and things ready before she went to sleep. Four thirty would come very early, indeed. Here’s a picture of someone helping the girl count her money.
Grand Financier Bella
They watched a little Rex the Runt, the girl’s favorite dvd at her friend’s house. They also looked at a map of Manhattan together so the girl would understand that no matter how large the city seemed to her, it is actually much larger for they were only going to see a small part of it. Midtown.
When they got to the city the next day, the girl was amazed and impressed at how absolutely huge Grand Central Station was. They immediately began walking toward the theatre. On the way, they got a bit of breakfast. The girl had pancakes and milk. After they continued, they passed someone very interesting.
Girl Meets Lion
As they walked north on 5th Avenue, they passed St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The girl had never seen or even heard of a cathedral before. They tried to go inside to see the beautiful stained glass from the inside, but there was an ordination ceremony that was about to start and they were not allowed in. They continued on.
They passed several stores which interested the girl, such as Build a Bear, American Girl, and a large gift shop with a dolphin sculpture in the window. There was also a street fair setting up on 6th Avenue which was closed to traffic. Vendors were starting to set up small tents that would protect them and their wares from sun and rain. The girl hoped very much she and her friend would be able to go back to check all these things out.
Soon they were at the theatre. The girl’s friend purchased tickets for them to hear a behind the scenes talk about what it takes to put on a large Broadway musical such as the one they were about to experience later that afternoon. They went inside, up an escalator to get to the level where the talk would start. On their way up, there were huge murals painted on the walls with maps of Oz, just for this show.
In the audience-right foyer there was a detailed museum display with artifacts of costuming and set design which had been used in the creation of the show, as well as on stage for earlier performances. For instance, the original gowns for both lead characters were there. Gorgeous dresses which had been custom-designed and sewn by hand specifically to fit the individual actresses who played the parts when the show opened in October 2003.
Unfortunately, using a cell phone camera (even a good one) in the dimly lit and crowded locale made less than idea photos.
A scale model of the set design for the play
Katie Rose Clarke as Glinda & Teal Wicks as Elphaba
Above is a professional photo taken on stage of the same dress styles custom-created for the current leads. These are the performers the girl and her friend saw.
This black dress for Elphaba takes 40 yards of custom-made fabric, 3 months and $18,000 to make. It weighs 20 pounds. Glinda’s blue dress is covered with sequins and beads, each one of which is sewn on by hand. One of Madame Morrible’s dresses has over 1,000 yards of ribbon built into it. It weighs 25 pounds.
More fun facts about what is involved with putting on the show:
- There are 125 people behind the curtain during each performance and 175 on salary who don’t work in the theatre building for a total of 300 people on payroll.
- Everyone on stage has to be able to act, sing and dance – everyone does all
- One of the “Behind-the-Scenes” event presenters covers 6 ensemble tracks and 3 understudy roles on stage. He has a “run of show” contract which allows him to raise a family with greater financial predictability than most actors experience.
- Some audience members | fans have seen the show 80-90 times
- The costumes are designed to be symmetrical for the principle characters and asymmetrical for the ensemble characters.
- Costumes cost 2.5 million dollars for over 2,000 individual pieces, every single one of which is custom-made.
- All the costume fabric is custom-milled. It costs $150-$750 per yard and is only available in 200 yard bolts. It is made in France and Italy.
- A costume designer is like a sculptor. The costume designer won the Tony Award for this show.
- Every single thing is done to perfection on the show.
- Some of the full costume changes between scenes are only 20 seconds long.
- The masks are life cast and are custom for each actor.
- Some actors have 6-8 wig changes per performance.
- There are over 90 wigs used in the show. Each one is handwoven, 1-2 hairs at a time, and then cut, colored and styled.
- Throughout the show on all levels, almost everything is done by hand.
- The Gershwin Theatre is Broadway’s largest theatre. It was built in 1972 specifically to house large musicals such as this. It’s also the only Broadway theatre with it’s own rehearsal studio.
- A musical’s “book writer” writes the dialogue. The “lyricist” writes the words to the songs. The “composer” writes the music for the songs.
- It typically takes $15-20 million dollars to create a musical on stage. Some shows take even more.
- There are 10 electricians and 3 sound engineers for each performance.
- There are 4 stage managers per performance.
- 500 pounds of dry ice is used per performance.
- For the national tour of Wicked, the contents of 14 semi trucks are loaded into a theatre in 31 hours.
After this informative behind-the-scenes event, the girl wanted very badly to go back to the souvenir shop that had the dolphin sculpture in the window. They backtracked and asked how much it was …. over $2,000! She has excellent taste, for sure And, to be fair, the sculpture was huge and made of brass. She looked around for awhile and found two Statue of Liberty sculptures more in her price range. The glass one in particular really tickled her fancy. Plus, it came in a really cool box.
After that they walked south on 7th Avenue into the heart of Times Square. The girl stopped at a hand crank machine which would squash a penny into a smooth, flat oval and place onto it an imprint of the Twin Towers. She tried it twice, but both times, the imprint was off-center. Oh, well. From there she saw the M&M’s store. Yes, a three-floor store with memorabilia for M&M’s candy! Here the girl decided to get two photo booth photos. One of herself and one of herself and her friend. Of course, there were M&M on the picture surrounding them
On the 2nd floor of the M&M store
The M&M store was very loud with lots of people and music. After a while the girl’s friend wanted to leave to get some quiet in her head. And she was getting very thirsty, so they went back up to 51st Street and 7th Ave where there was a McDonald’s which shared a building with a church. They went in and the girl got a bite and her friend a thirst-quenching milkshake.
The girl doing some acting as she gestures to Mars 2012 ... a store? a restaurant?
Right this way, please
The Gershwin Theatre
The view as they await the start of the play
After that, they walked back toward the theatre, just 1/2 a block away and took these photos along the way.
For those who’re interested, below are a some really interesting photos and video clip links (links are bold and underlined) from – and about – the show.
- Glinda arrives by bubble
- The Wizard & I
The Wizard & I
- One Short Day
- Defying Gravity
- Defying Gravity
- Even the best of friends don’t always get along. Luckily, these two work things out fairly quickly. Love and compassion at work.
A Guide to Elphaba’s Dressing Room
How Elphaba Defies Gravity on Stage
Wicked: Behind the Scenes Documentary, part 1
Wicked: Behind the Scenes Documentary, part 2
Wicked: Behind the Scenes Documentary, part 3
Suffice to say, both the girl and her friend loved the show. The girl said it was the best play she’s ever seen. Her friend had a tear running down her cheek as they got up from their seats.
Next stop: FAO Schwarz ….. by Pedi-Cab!
Before disembarking the pedi-cab, their kind and friendly driver offered to take their picture.
Moments later, the girl entered FAO Schwarz, one of the oldest and most famous toy stores in the world. Three floors of kid goodness. Well, two if you don’t count the baby & toddler floor. Which they didn’t. The main attractions for the girl were the potential purchase of a remote controlled helicopter, which was affordable, but (sadly) required too many batteries to make it a sustainable plaything. Another was the huge statue made of Legos ….
Miss Liberty ... There are two, you know.
Lastly, was the opportunity to “play” the giant floor piano that was featured in the motion picture “Big” starring Tom Hanks. Woo hoo! While putting her shoes back on after this experience, the girl asked her friend how much the piano was. Um. $250,000.00. Oh.
OK. Though it was excruciatingly difficult, the girl left FAO Schwarz without buying a thing. They hailed a yellow cab (with the help of a gentleman who was hoping for a tip for his service and received one.) They made their way back to Grand Central Station and ate a really yummy dinner at Junior’s on the food concourse. It was right across from track 112, where their train would be leaving. They ate some at the table and brought the rest with them to eat on the train. (Their waiter was awesome.)
The ride home was quiet and included sleep for the girl, which the ride into the city did not. So much excitement, you know! The girl also slept the whole drive home from the train station. Well, she did after loudly playing a couple of her favorite songs from the Wicked original cast recording on her friend’s mp3 player. They got home at 11:30pm and went straight to bed.
Tomorrow would be another big and important day.