‘Wicked‘ to turn Seoul green from May
By Kwon Mee-yoo
The green magic of “Wicked” is coming to Korea at central Seoul’s Blue Square in May.
Known for the catchphrase of "so much happened before Dorothy dropped in," "Wicked" is full of imagination and a twist on the classic "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" series, revolving around the Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch of the North and the Wizard of Oz.
The Australian production of “Wicked,” which successfully finished a three-year run in their country, kicked off an Asian tour in Singapore last December. Jemma Rix will play the role of Elphaba, or the Wicked Witch, and Suzie Mathers will play blonde counterpart Glinda.
Nina Essman of 321 Management, general manager of “Wicked” worldwide, is the person who takes care of everything to stage the show and maintain the quality.
Her company is responsible for making sure the show looks as good as it can. Theatergoers are fascinated by the acting, direction, choreography and music, but a musical also needs housekeeping and Essman knows how to do that.
"We have a team of creative personnel and we make sure they are at the right place and the show is up to snuff," Essman said. "We have seven 'Wicked' productions worldwide and travel around to have them in the right shape, in English and foreign languages."
Essman and 321 Management are also in charge of "boring" things such as budgets, contracts and transportation.
"We have touring companies in North America and Asia and how do we load and unload things from trucks is one of our concerns," she said. Twenty-two containers of sets, props and costumes traveled from Australia to Singapore and will head to Seoul soon.
"We also oversee all marketing of all the companies,” she added.
Such efforts by Essman and her team might be the reason why “Wicked” is one of the most popular shows on Broadway and since its premiere there in 2003 has drawn more than 30 million worldwide with sales of over $2.5 billion.
She thinks one of the reasons the show has been so successful internationally is because they make a lot of effort to keep the shows just as good as Broadway.
"There is a specific way that 'Wicked' looks and it looks the same every place. This is very important to us," Essman said. "Every production of Wicked is an original Broadway show. It's all the same ― big and beautiful. It will look the same as in the Blue Square as it looks on Broadway."
Essman said there are more people behind the scenes than onstage, the crew who do their best to offer a seamless show to audiences.
"The thing about live theater, different from other entertainment, is that we have to do the same show eight times a week and it has to be ready eight o'clock every night," she said. “That is the magic of theater.”
"Wicked" has been translated into several languages including German, Dutch and Japanese. However, language is no barrier to Essman's effort to maintain the quality of the show.
"We work very closely with the translation team and try to translate the true meaning of the show. The creative team still works to make the show same, though it is more challenging when you don't speak the language," she said. "For me, I found it very fun to show I know so well in other languages even if I don't understand."
Though a touring production is visiting this time, a Korean-language production might be staged later.
"'Wicked' is a real spectacle and not every market could handle such show. We hope to have a Korean-language production here shortly," she said.
Meanwhile, the two stars Rix and Mathers, who will finish the tour in Singapore this weekend, will visit Korea next week for a showcase. They will sing numbers of "Wicked" and answer questions from fans at M Cube on April 25.
Those who want to participate can apply for the event at www.wickedthemusical.co.kr.
"Wicked" will raise its curtain here on May 31 at Blue Square in Hannam-dong. Tickets cost from 50,000 to 160,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.