Something "Wicked" this way comes - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Something "Wicked" this way comes

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New Orleans, La. -- "Wicked" tells the back story of the witches of Oz. The show is coming up on its 10th anniversary on Broadway, and the touring company has just rolled into New Orleans. FOX 8 went behind the scenes to find out what it takes to bring Broadway to the Crescent City.

"It's a story of an outsider. It's a story about somebody being different and then a friendship that develops which we all can relate with. Whether it's race, gender, whatever. It speaks to so many people. It's very timeless," said Jason Daunter, the production manager for one of two touring groups taking "Wicked" around the country.  "There have been no cuts. There have been no downsizes. They figured out a way to take the New York show and put it on the road."

Cases of lights, instruments and costumes are each labeled for a specific place. It takes 15 semi-trailer trucks filled with equipment to bring a show such as "Wicked" to life.

Daunter said, "All we need are the seats for the audience. We need the steel above our heads to hang the show and the power to plug in to."

It's a two-and-a-half day job to transform each theater into the Land of Oz.

Daunter said, "You are always going to see Glenda's bubble. You are always going to see the time dragon clock."

70 company members travel around the country and they hire 60 crew members in each city.

"Movies are great and they take us to another world, but this is happening in front of you.  Then you add in the 2,400 New Orleans customers that come to see the show. That's the final element," said Daunter.

He says the live element releases the magic, even when something goes awry. The lights went out during a performance on one of the shows' last visits.

Daunter called it "one of those magical musical theater moments where they pushed the piano on stage and the two girls sang 'For Good,' because they weren't going to get power back. They thanked the audience and all the stage hands held flashlights and it was just one of those beautiful moments. You don't want that kind of stuff to happen on a nightly basis, but it's live and you're doing it and you have to be in the moment."

The touring company plays eight shows a week. That's every week for the last eight years. The company has only had a single week off while waiting for the set to be shipped back from Hawaii in January 2013.

Yvonne Strassmer, visiting New Orleans from Chicago, tried to get tickets here.  But since she'll only be in town opening night she didn't have any luck.

Strassmer said, "Every place I've gone I could never get tickets. They were sold out."

Susan Williams just moved to New Orleans. She's still getting used to her new hometown, but hopes to have time to check out the show.

Williams said, "I know it's about the two witches from the Wizard of Oz. I haven't seen it, but I'd love to."

New Orleanians are being treated to a special that's often seen in bigger cities. A drawing for a limited number of $25 orchestra seats will be held two hours before each show.

"Wicked" plays through June 2 at the Mahalia Jackson Theater.

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