A timeline of 'Wicked' on Broadway and beyond

Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman's beloved musical turns 20 in October, and the show has had many notable steps on the (yellow brick) road to this milestone.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

“It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” The Tony-winning musical Wicked has defied gravity – and established longevity – at the Gershwin Theatre since 2003. That’s nearly 20 years, a milestone significant enough to turn other producers green with envy.

The secrets to the staying power of this Wizard of Oz prequel? There are the tuneful songs (think "Popular," "For Good", and "Defying Gravity"), the girl-power story that makes being different a plus, and throngs of theatregoers who come back, again and again, to take in the journey – and friendship – of Elphaba, the misunderstood "wicked" witch, and Glinda, the conflicted "good" witch.

As the hourglass runs down toward the official 20th anniversary of Broadway’s fourth-longest-running show, take a trip down the yellow brick memory lane through major dates in the world of Wicked.

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2003: Wicked premieres on Broadway

Wicked's first performance was on October 8, 2003, before an official opening on October 30. That was perfect timing for this bewitching musical based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Wicked arrived on Broadway following an out-of-town tryout at San Francisco's Curran Theatre that May.

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2004: Idina Menzel wins a Tony Award

On June 6 at Radio City Music Hall, Menzel won the Best Leading Actress in a Musical Tony for originating the role of Elphaba, besting an A-list field including Kristin Chenoweth (as Glinda in Wicked), Stephanie D’Abruzzo (Avenue Q), Tonya Pinkins (Caroline, or Change), and Donna Murphy (Wonderful Town).

“I am so proud to be in a musical that celebrates women and to celebrate their strengths and their differences,” Menzel said in her acceptance speech.

Of its 10 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Original Score (Stephen Schwartz), and Best Book of a Musical (Winnie Holzman), the show also won for its lavish set and costumes.

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March 2006: Wicked has its 1,000th Broadway performance

Even if you’re a Shiz dropout and spend your days dancing through life, you know this: hitting a quadruple-digit run on Broadway is a big deal. Wicked achieved that mark on March 23, 2006. Eden Espinosa, as Elphaba, and Megan Hilty, as Glinda, led the production at that time.

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September 2006: Wicked premieres in London

The West End production of Wicked launched performances on September 7 at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre. Menzel reprised her role of Elphaba alongside Helen Dallimore as Glinda. The show cast a lasting spell over London audiences, too — Wicked is still running at the Apollo Victoria.

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2007: The first non-English production of Wicked debuts

On June 17, 2007, Wicked began a 27-month run in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to Japanese, the musical has since been translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese.

Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande

2012: Wicked film adaptation is first announced

Casting and filming for the Wicked movie only kicked into gear in 2021, so it's hard to believe the project was first announced nearly 10 years prior. After a long development process and Covid delays, Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande were announced to star. Jonathan Bailey, Ethan Slater, Jeff Goldblum, and Michelle Yeoh also joined in supporting roles. The film is releasing in two parts in November 2024 and 2025; we couldn't be happier.

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2013: Wicked celebrates its 10th anniversary

On October 30, 2013, Wicked celebrated its 10th anniversary on Broadway. Actors and creatives shared memories and shoutouts. “The fact that Wicked has mattered to so many people and made a difference in some of their lives, the fact that some of them have been changed for the better, it's just an amazing thing,” said Schwartz.

“It’s a story about friendship and love and trying to understand those different from us. And I think that's the story that carries on,” said Annaleigh Ashford, who played Glinda for seven months beginning in October 2007.

“There'll be a 20th anniversary,” Ashford predicted. She was right.

Lindsay Pearce in 'Wicked' on Broadway. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

2021: Wicked reopens post-Covid

Wicked temporarily shuttered in March 2020 alongside the rest of Broadway due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was good to see the show when it reopened on Sept. 14, 2021. Following the 18-month gap, Chenoweth was at the Gershwin Theatre with a brief welcome-back speech. “There’s no place like home,” she said.

Brittney Johnson in Wicked

2022: Wicked features its first Black Glinda

On February 14, 2022, Brittney Johnson made history as the first Black actress to star full-time (as opposed to being an understudy) as Glinda, a role she performed for a year at the Gershwin Theatre.

"It was just an exciting opportunity to play a character I have always loved and admired, to sing iconic songs I have listened to for a lot of my life," she told New York Theatre Guide in a February 2023 exit interview. "The history-making part was added on top. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to open the door, so now, we can just move forward as if it's the new norm."

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April 2023: Wicked becomes Broadway’s fourth-longest-running show

What a high-flying way to start a 20-anniversary year! On April 11, 2023, Wicked played its 7,486th performance, surpassing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats to become the fourth-longest-running production in Broadway history. The now-closed The Phantom of the Opera holds the top spot, followed by Chicago and The Lion King.

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October 2023: Wicked celebrates its 20th anniversary

Despite not winning Best Musical all those years ago, Wicked continues to defy gravity — and the odds. Only Phantom, Chicago, and The Lion King have ever reached the 20-year mark. Alongside them, Wicked cements its place in the Broadway history books for good with this milestone.

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Top image credit: Alyssa Fox in Wicked in 2023. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

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