The Daily Gamecock

'Wicked' bewitches Columbia after 15 years on Broadway

In its 15th year on Broadway, the award-winning musical "Wicked" is finally here to take Columbia audiences to the Land of Oz. Starting Jan. 22, the show will hit the stage at the Koger Center for the Arts. 

A peripheral tale of "The Wizard of Oz" and based on the book by Gregory Maguire, "Wicked" tells the “untold true story of the witches of Oz.” In the musical, the witches of Oz are college students, and the plot revolves around their complicated relationship. While many people are unaware of Maguire’s book, the musical remains popular due to its ties to the famous Wizard of Oz. 

“It’s a new story, so it’s all new to you, which makes it very exciting. However, it’s familiar, because you know the basic concept,” said Nate Terracio, director of the Koger Center. 

Since its Broadway debut in 2003, "Wicked" has performed in 16 countries around the world. Once a broadway show leaves New York, it begins to expand its outreach, starting at major markets and slowly working its way down. After all this time, "Wicked" is just now coming to Columbia for the first time, which is partly due to a lack of space at the Koger Center. 

“'Wicked' is a massive set. They come in with 13 tractor-trailers and we were unable to accommodate, the building just physically couldn’t accommodate that,” said Chip Wade, marketing director for the Koger Center. 

The Koger Center invested some money in facility renovations in order to accommodate shows of this size. After these renovations, Wicked committed to touring in Columbia, thus introducing a brand new audience to a story that has viewers bound to fall in love with everything from the catchy music, including famous songs like “Popular” and “Defying Gravity,” to the talented cast of Broadway actors. 

“This is the, I’ll call them the 'A-Plus Cast,'” Wade said. Since there is only one tour of Wicked, the same cast performs all over the country, eliminating the need for extra rehearsals. Audiences can be sure they are seeing a mastered performance of the beloved Broadway musical.  

Often called a prequel to "The Wizard of Oz," Wicked explains the unexpected friendship between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch. The two lead very different lives: Glinda is beautiful and well-liked while Elphaba is treated differently because of her green complexion. Recognizing this kind of prejudice can reflect real-life scenarios, Wicked teamed up with a campaign called BullyBust to use the story for good. 

“I think that there’s these very humanizing, teachable moments in it. It’s not just frivolous,” Terracio said. 

"Wicked" will be in Columbia from Jan. 22 to Feb. 9 at the Koger Center. Tickets are available online, over the phone and at the box office.