SOUTH BEND — Thirteen trucks full of lights, sound equipment, elaborate set pieces and costumes rolled into South Bend this week to set up shop for two weeks of performances of “Wicked,” a popular Broadway production that premieres Wednesday, May 8, at the Morris Performing Arts Center.
The award-winning musical will claim the stage at the 2,500-seat theater through May 19, marking the longest-running show the Broadway Theatre League of South Bend has brought to the Morris.
“The show has been traveling for quite a while now,” said Erica Norgaard, company manager for “Wicked.” “It’s been out for 10 years, but this is our first time here, and it’s always great to bring it to a new space because you get fans from other places and fans who have seen it in other places, but you also get a whole new crop of people, which just brings a great excitement to the audience on that opening night particularly.”
The play features many of the beloved characters from the classic story “The Wizard of Oz,” telling a tale of an unlikely friendship that develops between Elphaba, who eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, who grows up to be the Good Witch of the North.
“It’s a story about friendship, and it’s a story about judging people, and it’s so prevalent today because we have so many issues with bullying with children and adults,” Norgaard said. “And this is a really great way of taking a story, a fun musical, lots of spectacle, lots of colors and lights, and yet it has a really great message with it as well.”
“Wicked” is known for its special effects, detailed stage setups and memorable music, production stage manager David O’Brien said. A stage crew with close to 100 people took two and half days to build the set, he added.
“It’s a big show, so it takes a lot of people,” he explained. “I’m very fortunate to have a great crew, and so our crew is able to really coordinate and organize, and they really have it down to a science.”
Katherine Boes, theatre league board of directors president, said “Wicked” is an enchanting play. She has already seen it three times in Chicago.
“One of those times, we took my niece, who was 18 or so at the time, and she left there saying she would never watch ‘The Wizard of Oz’ the same way again,” Boes said.
Tickets and show times are available at the Morris box office at 211 N. Michigan St., by phone at 235-9190 and online morriscenter.org. Tickets are also available at Hammes Bookstore/Eddy Street Commons in South Bend and SuperSounds/TG Music in Goshen. The theater will also hold a lottery for $25 orchestra seats at the box office two and half hours before each performance.