A Special Look at Wicked's Behind the Emerald Curtain
No doubt millions of musical fans have dreamed of being able to spend "One Short Day" in the Emerald City... Well, this may be the next best thing! Behind the Emerald Curtain is an official behind-the-scenes look at one of Broadway's most treasured (and most commercially successful) musicals of all time... the lavish masterpiece that defies gravity eight times a week at the Gershwin Theatre - Wicked!
But let me assure you - if you have already seen Wicked fifty times and have had your fill of those warbling witches - Behind the Emerald Curtain may still be of interest to you. To my pleasant surprise, the event actually details in great depth what it takes to firstly put on a Broadway musical and then to keep it running. Of course it uses Wicked as its prime example, but rather than just experiencing tour guides telling you how great Wicked is, you get to know the general business behind Broadway itself. How much do producers need to raise in order to stage a Broadway musical in the first place? What is the role of a General Manager or a Company Manager? What exactly is a performer's "track"? How do the National Tours operate? How much influence do the theatre owners have on a show's approval and success? These and many more questions are answered over the course of the 90 minutes spent at the Gerswhin Theatre.
I attended Behind the Emerald Curtain last Saturday and would like to thank Wicked ensemble members Heather Spore and Jerad Bortz, who functioned as our hosts on that day. Both have been with the show on Broadway for over a decade now and it truly made all the difference to have actual cast members as our guides, who know both the show itself and the musical theatre industry inside out, rather than some part-time workers who have had to learn a script to do the job. With such a large group of visitors, they both did a great job of holding the crowd's attention with their insight and enthusiasm and accepted all questions that were fired towards the stage in the final 20-minute Q&A session. Both Heather and Jerad proved to be very "Popular" with the patrons on Saturday.
A pop-up museum is laid out in the lobby specifically for Behind the Emerald Curtain, containing but not limited to props both great and small, a handful of original costumes along with dozens of costume designs, wigs, animal masks and an impressive set design model. Your hosts will take you through each aspect of the production, including microphones and sound design, the ideas behind the costume design, and so on and so forth. Following this, you are led into the auditorium where a cinema screen set up on the stage displays Wicked-themed documentaries about the making of a Broadway musical, the day-to-day operations or the logistics of taking the show on tour. The short films also contain interviews with the likes of composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz and producer David Stone, among others. Even the most well-informed theatre aficionados are bound to learn something new about the business they love by the end of the tour.
One downside is that you never actually get to have a look backstage, which begged the question in my mind "When do we literally get to go behind the emerald curtain?" I'm sure this is due to the sheer number of patrons and lack of space backstage and/or insurance restrictions. But I'm sure I wasn't the only one who would have loved to have had a walk around the wings or seen the dressing rooms. After all, I'm guessing most of the visitors have never been backstage at a Broadway theatre before. So rather than a backstage tour, this is more of a "behind-the-scenes" presentation, presented in front of the scenes. Nevertheless, in terms of the general knowledge of our hosts and the volume of information given about this wonderful industry, I left the Gershwin with an enriched experience and an unexpected one at that... And, oh I can't resist... I was changed "For Good."
To book tickets for the next available tour on Saturday, December 17th, .
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