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THEATER: 'Wicked' just keeps growing

By Michael Kuchwara Associated Press NEW YORK -- Any Broadway show that's as big a hit as "Wicked" is bound to be awash in statistics. And the musical, now barreling into its sixth year at the Gershwin Theatre, has numbers to spare -- all of them...

"Wicked"
"Wicked" is setting records worldwide. The show in Minneapolis is almost sold out.

By Michael Kuchwara

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Any Broadway show that's as big a hit as "Wicked" is bound to be awash in statistics. And the musical, now barreling into its sixth year at the Gershwin Theatre, has numbers to spare -- all of them large.

Let's enumerate a few.

"Wicked," based on novelist Gregory Maguire's fanciful "Wizard of Oz" prequel, has been seen by more than 3.75 million people in New York since it opened in October 2003 and still pretty much plays to capacity with weekly grosses of $1.4 million plus.

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Another 4 million or so have seen the musical on its North American tour, which began in March 2005 and has broken house records in every city it's played, more than 30 at last count.

And we haven't even gotten to the show's two lengthy sit-down engagements, one in Chicago, now past the three-year mark, and the second in Los Angeles, which will have played more than a year by the time it closes in early 2009. The Chicago company will close at the same time.

Every week, the four companies have a combined gross of more than $5.5 million. Overseas, boffo grosses are the norm: London (where the musical has been playing since September 2006), Germany, Japan, Australia. It most likely will do the same in the Netherlands, where "Wicked" opens in 2010.

"Wicked," the tale of two young women -- one green, the other golden -- and how their friendship changed, has been just as successful in its other incarnations, too.

The original cast recording on Decca Broadway is a Grammy winner and has gone platinum, selling nearly 2 million copies.

And newly released is a "deluxe package" CD of the musical with a second disc that includes covers of some of the show's songs including "For Good," sung by LeAnn Rimes and Delta Goodrem. For "Wicked" fanatics, there's even a number cut from the show before it opened: "Making Good," sung by Stephanie Block, one of the production's many green Elphabas, and accompanied on the piano by the show's composer, Stephen Schwartz.

You can't forget the merchandise either: T-shirts, mugs, refrigerator magnets, baseball caps and other "Wicked" paraphernalia that has added another $100 million to the take.

And the musical will be around at the Gershwin for a long time. Its advance stands at $30 million, a phenomenal figure in this post 9/11 world where audiences don't want to purchase tickets too far in advance.

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For "Wicked," they will.

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