Broadway on a budget: How to win ‘Wicked’ in a lottery

By John Sapida

As a fan of Broadway musicals, I always try to find ways to see shows for the fraction of the price. Last week, I was fortunate enough to be one of the winners of $30 tickets to see “Wicked,” one of Broadway’s longest running musicals, on my second try.

During most performances, “Wicked” and several other productions hold a lottery for theater-goers like me who are on a budget. Two and a half hours before the show begins, participants are asked to put their name in a lottery for these tickets. Two hours before the show beings, the lottery winners are drawn. From my experience, theaters may have up to 20 tickets available for lottery winners at any given performance. Theater-goers should check the website of each production for more details about their lottery or rush opportunities.

“Wicked” is the story about the witches of Oz before Dorothy came along through after Dorothy was able to go home by clicking the heels of the famous ruby red slippers. Its original Broadway cast includes “Frozen’s” Idina Menzel playing Elphaba the Wicked Witch and the incredibly funny and talented Kristin Chenoweth as Glinda the Good Witch.

Both actresses have since been a part of various television programs and theatrical productions. Menzel also won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 2004.

The story focuses on the relationship between the witches of Oz, but it is also filled with plot and character surprises that would question what you saw in the film adaptation of “The Wizard of Oz.” It is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.”

The book from which the musical was based was written by Winnie Holzman. The music and lyrics were written by the one and only Stephen Schwartz whose music I admired since finding the musical theater genre.

I discovered the music of “Wicked” a few years ago and I was hooked ever since. From its “want” song “The Wizard and I” to its dance song “Dancing Through Life,” to its most iconic song “Defying Gravity,” the music helps guide the audience through the story and the emotions of each

Author watched ‘Wicked’ on a $30 lottery

Author watched ‘Wicked’ on a $30 lottery

character that sing them. I couldn’t help but sing along silently as I was watching the play.

While I have been singing and listening to these songs for a long time now, I have never seen the show until recently. Therefore, the story in my head, which was constructed by listening to the songs, was incomplete and I was vulnerable to many unexpected surprises.

For example, there were a lot of surprises in the plot connected to “The Wizard of Oz” that surprised me and left my jaw open. The story is about the friendship between Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West (currently played by Jennifer Dinoia), and Galinda, the Good Witch (currently played by Kara Lindsay) which we do not see in “The Wizard of Oz.”

Their story begins from “loathing” each other as roommates in university to becoming best friends and to “defying gravity” as their own persons with different goals and aspirations. We see their relationship develop just as many of our own friendships, with moments of triumph and challenges. Furthermore, it is also fighting the odds for something you truly believe in; to “defy gravity” as the shows’ most iconic number suggests.

Recently, movies such as Disney’s live-action versions of “Cinderella” and “Maleficent” (based on the story of “Sleeping Beauty”) has been re-imagining the way we view the original fairy tales we grew up reading about through alternative storytelling or storytelling based on another character’s perspective. “Wicked,” which premiered on Broadway in 2003, is seen as one of the pioneers of alternative storytelling.

Another way the show inspires its audience to “defy gravity” is the way the story and its characters challenge the audience to set aside their existing ideas about the original story to give way to a new insight or a new perspective.

“Wicked” continues its 12-year run on Broadway’s Gershwin Theater.

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