Something has changed within me. What is this feeling, so sudden and new? The smash Broadway musical “Wicked” is finally, finally going to be a big-budget Hollywood movie, produced by Universal pictures for December 2021. Thank goodness!
When “Wicked,” the untold story of the Wicked Witch of the West (and all that happened before “Dorothy dropped in”) hit Broadway in 2003, it changed the history of musical theater and popular culture. “Wicked,” the first great musical of the new century, borrowed the soul-deepness of “Rent” and the grandeur of “Les Miserables” to make a firecracker box office buster with grown-up Disney-princess vibes. Musicals that are as high quality as they are high profit are about as common as a flying monkey, so the fact that “Wicked” would be a major motion picture was a foregone conclusion.
But 17 years later, all the green in Hollywood hasn’t made the “Wicked” movie appear — Universal once scheduled the movie for Winter 2019, but pushed it back to make room for the “Cats” adaptation (to be fair, Andrew Lloyd Weber and his feline team have been waiting since the 80’s). Now Deadline reports that “Wicked,” which is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel of the same name, will fly into theaters on December 21, 2021.
The future of the movie is truly unlimited — with the original, very yiddishe team of composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, script writer Winnie Holtzman, and producer Marc Platt (yes, that Platt) back on board, when people see it they will scream. Stephen Daldry of “Billy Elliot” will direct. Casting is yet to be determined, but we’d like to see a focus on, you know, singing and acting ability. If that’s not too much to ask.
Nearly two decades later, “Wicked” stands to be more relevant than ever. Sure, sure, themes like the downsides of popularity and obsession with image will never go out of style. But check out our man Stephen Schwartz’s prescient lyrics:
“Where I’m from, we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true — we call it history! A man’s called a traitor…or liberator. A rich man’s a thief…or philanthropist. Is one a crusader? Or ruthless invader? It’s all in which label is able to persist. There are precious few at ease with moral ambiguities so we act as though they don’t exist!”
See you in Oz.
Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny