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Mary Kate Morrissey as Elphaba

AN UPENDED RETELLING OF THE WIZARD OF OZ FROM THE WITCHES’ POINT OF VIEW, WICKED MIXES VULNERABILITY, FEMINIST PASSION AND PLENTY OF LAUGHS PLAYING OFF FAMOUS BITS FROM THE CLASSIC MOVIE IN A SHOW PACKED WITH LIFE LESSONS FOR ALL AGES.

By MICHELE CHIAPPETTA Photos by JOAN MARCUS and JUSTIN BARNES

Ever wondered what is the true story of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz? That’s the idea behind the Broadway musical Wicked, which is coming to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center Sept. 5–23, 2018. Based loosely on the novel of the same name by Gregory Maguire, Wicked the musical tells the story of the two most well-known women with magical powers in the Land of Oz, long before Dorothy shows up. Elphaba, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. Glinda is beautiful, ambitious and popular. Their unlikely friendship creates a rich story of right and wrong, companionship and rivalry — and ultimately, forgiveness and redemption. First launched on Broadway Oct. 30, 2003, Wicked is about to hit its 15th anniversary on the Great White Way. It recently surpassed A Chorus Line to become Broadway’s sixth-longest running

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show, and is Broadway’s secondhighest grossing show ever. No wonder its national touring production is so popular as well. It’s coming through Tulsa this month for the fourth time — and showing no signs of losing its attraction to those who love a good story, fantastic performances and a great musical score. Wicked’s touring production offers a thrilling ride to please audiences, says Jason Graae, a Tulsa native who is starring as the Wizard of Oz and is thrilled to be back in T-Town to share one of his favorite musicals with Green Country residents young and old. Graae moved to Tulsa from Chicago when he was in fourth grade, attended Lee Elementary School, and lived in Tulsa’s Maple Ridge neighborhood. “My official debut [onstage] was in seventh grade,” Graae says,

recalling that singer-songwriter and Sand Springs native Sam Harris was also in the production — the musical George M! “That was the beginning of theater for me.” Soon enough, Graae was hooked on stage work and was actively involved in local performances through Tulsa Little Theater (now known as Theatre Tulsa). “We would audition and rehearse at Harwelden Mansion, which was enormous and magical and exciting,” he says. He also has fond memories of attending Edison Preparatory School, where he performed roles such as Sancho Panza in The Man of La Mancha. Graae’s ties to Tulsa remain strong, with many of his friends still living in the area. And his ties to the local arts here are strong too. He has assisted Theatre Tulsa in directing and building a commercial run of the musical Forever Plaid. And he has performed in the smaller venues

at the Tulsa PAC. Wicked will be his first performance in the PAC’s Chapman Music Hall. “Wicked is such a spectacular show,” Graae says. “I’m just so proud to be in it. It’s so moving. It’s so resonant. It’s morphed really well into what’s going on in today’s world. It’s a beautiful story and told so impeccably. I just love being a part of it.” Though the musical’s chief characters are Elphaba (who one day becomes the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda (who eventually becomes Glinda the Good Witch), Graae’s character, the Wizard of Oz, is both iconic and essential to the Land of Oz and Wicked. The Broadway role was originated by actor Joel Grey, but every actor puts his own spin on the role, and Graae is no different. “Joel Grey is one of my heroes, but his was a very different take [on the role],” says Graae. “I see

Profile for Preview 918

September 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 9)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...

September 2018 (Vol. 32, No. 9)  

Where to Dine. What to Do. Where to Find It. When It's Happening. Preview 918 A regional magazine of national stature, Preview 918 has rema...