Here at the Orpheum, we actually celebrate the Wicked. The cast and crew of the Broadway Musical, anyway. If you are reading this blog, I doubt I have to tell you about the phenomenon that is Wicked. On Facebook all I had to do was mention "ticket contest" and I had over 100 comments within an hour! I loved seeing everyone's enthusiasm and reading stories about the different experiences you all have had with the show. So, since we are all fairly educated on the story, I thought I would take you behind the scenes a bit and share with you some of the things that go on specifically in Memphis with this touring group.
On Tuesday the gigantic semi-trucks carrying all of the set pieces arrived and the crew wasted no time getting to work on the stage. I went downstairs with our Marketing team to greet some of the press who came to interview the company members and watch the set being built. I first spoke with the company manager Erica, who has been travelling with Wicked for five years, about how they get started in a new city. She said they employ 75 crew members, which is pretty large for a travelling show and really demonstrated just how big this production is. What I didn't realize was that bringing in a musical of this scale actually creates jobs in our community. Wicked hires local stagehands and dressers to help bring the production to life in addition to their regular crew members. On the first day when the set is being built, 100 Memphians are hired to work with the crew and 50 of them stay on throughout the run of the show for daily work. What a great way to get involved!
After speaking with Erica I proceeded into the auditorium where I was excited to find that the great dragon, who watches the story unfold from above the proscenium, had already been raised to his overhead perch. This guy's red eyes light up and his wings and talons flap and grab throughout the show.
He's a little intimidating. Did you know that there are two crew members who actually operate the dragon from inside of him throughout the entire show? They spend over three hours 55 feet above the base of the stage. I learned this from my interview with Justin, the head carpenter of the show. He was kind enough to let me do a backstage interview with him! Check out the video below.
This is my debut as a vlogger. If I was a better one I would figure out how to edit out my voice so you could only hear Justin talking about the show, but alas, you have to put up with my silly comments this time.
You can see a crew member working on Glinda's bubble here.
And we have lift off! It was really amazing to peek in on the stage and see how quickly the set came together. The lighting tests were especially cool to watch.
I have to say though, after all of the interviews and backstage tours, my favorite part of the day was listening to the Orchestra practice. I would sneak out onto the Mezzanine above the lobby, sit in one of the benches, and listen to them rehearse while I checked over everyone's contest responses on my phone. The acoustics out there were much better than I thought they would be, and the songs sounded gorgeous. I was amazed at how much I enjoyed listening to them even though I have them all memorized from the soundtrack. There was just something extra organic about hearing it live without the singing that I really enjoyed, like a personal karaoke session just for me with a full orchestra. Of course I couldn't do too much actual singing or I would give away my position :)
What is your favorite part of Wicked? What night are y'all coming to see the show??
For more behind the scenes information, click here to visit Wicked's official site.