'Wicked' to hit Manila stage in January 2014

By Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 14 2013 05:16 PM | Updated as of Aug 15 2013 08:01 PM

"Wicked" lead stars Suzie Mathers (left) and Jemma Rix (right), and assistant music director David Young. Photo by Karen Flores, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA - It's official: the popular Broadway musical "Wicked" is coming to Manila next year.

Months after providing teasers to its Filipino fans online, producers Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Concertus Manila announced in a press launch on Wednesday that "Wicked" will be staged at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater starting January 22, 2014.

This after another musical, "Dirty Dancing," was cancelled "due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances."

Tickets to "Wicked" will be sold at TicketWorld starting Thursday, August 15, at 10 a.m., with ticket prices ranging from P1,750 to P7,000.

James Cundall, Lunchbox's chief executive officer, expects the Manila tour of “Wicked” to be even bigger than “The Phantom of the Opera,” which was seen by an estimated 100,000 people during its extended run.

“I thought ‘Phantom’ was big until I saw ‘Wicked.’ It’s the mother of all shows,” he said.

In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com shortly after the press launch, Cundall noted how a lot of Filipinos have already watched “Wicked” in other countries, saying that this is what motivated them to bring the show to Manila.

“It’s amazing how many Filipinos have seen the show before, in Singapore or in Broadway,” he said. “It’s thanks to these people who’ve seen it [as this] gave us the impetus to bring it here.”

Cundall said “Wicked” may run for three to four weeks in Manila. “Then, we’ll see how it sells,” he said.

Fans of the musical, a prequel of sorts to "The Wizard of Oz," started a petition on Facebook early this year so "Wicked" will be staged in Manila.

Dream roles

Some of the cast members of "Wicked" are in town to promote the musical, which they described as one of the “new mega-musicals of our generation.”

Suzie Mathers, who plays Glinda, the “good” witch, said she is thankful to have been given the chance to portray “such an extraordinary role.”

“They’re dream roles,” she said of her role and that of Jemma Rix, who plays the green "wicked" witch Elphaba. “If you want to be in the musical theater industry, these are the two roles you want to play. And for us to play them is a gift. It’s amazing.”

Rix agreed, saying, “She (Elphaba) is a beautiful human being who fights for what she believes in. She has such a heart… The songs [in ‘Wicked’] are so wonderful. We get to have so much fun together.”

The two lead stars of “Wicked” went on to give some advice to aspiring theater actors. For Rix, it is all about exerting extra effort.

“If you really love what you’re doing, you have to work really, really hard. Very, very hard,” she said.

Mathers, on the other hand, stressed the importance of improving one’s craft through education and training.

“I went to drama school. I studied musical theater for three years… you just have to work on your craft,” she said.

For his part, “Wicked” assistant music director David Young said: “Take lessons. Take dance classes, singing classes, acting classes… Because it’s a tough world, a tough industry.”

"Wicked," which premiered on Broadway in 2003, has won 50 major awards, including a Grammy, three Tony Awards and six Helpmann Awards.

The musical, which is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," is known for the songs "Defying Gravity," "Popular" and "For Good," among others.

Watch the "Wicked" Manila preview of "Defying Gravity" here.

Watch the "Wicked" Manila preview of "Popular" here.