“No one mourns the wicked,” goes the opening song of Winnie Holzman and Stephen Schwartz’s musical Wicked. But the musical, which celebrated its 15th anniversary on Broadway in 2018 and was recently crowned the sixth longest-running Broadway musical of all time, won’t have any need for mourners any time soon. “The Untold Tale of the Witches of Oz” is still going strong and shows no signs of slowing down. Its fresh perspective on The Wizard of Oz and intricate backstory of both The Land of Oz and the titular Witch has led Wicked to play to sold-out houses eight times a week at New York’s Gershwin Theatre, not to mention in numerous international productions. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the musical sensation created by librettist Holzman (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) and composer-lyricist Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin) from the 2005 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, UMe’s Verve label is reissuing the Grammy-winning Original Broadway Cast Recording in a new 2-CD deluxe edition. The February 8 release marks the third reissue of Wicked, following the 5th and 10th anniversary editions.
The stats surrounding Wicked are nothing short of unbelievable. The musical directed by Joe Mantello (Assassins, Three Tall Women) opened on October 30, 2003 in New York, and has since played 16 countries, grossed plenty of green (over $4.7 billion!), and been seen by nearly 60 million theatergoers. It’s the second most profitable show in Broadway history, only behind The Lion King. Marc Platt, David Stone, Jon B. Platt and the Araca Group co-produced the musical with Universal Pictures, and became the “most profitable project in terms of profit margin in Universal Pictures’ history” according to Marc Platt. Indeed, the witches originally portrayed by Idina Menzel (Elphaba) and Kristin Chenoweth (Glinda) have even overtaken the likes of E.T. and Jaws! Menzel netted one of the musical’s three Tony Awards (out of ten nominations) for her incendiary performance; Wicked also picked up seven Drama Desk Awards including for Holzman’s book, Schwartz’s lyrics, and Outstanding Musical.
The original cast recording, produced by Schwartz and also featuring Joel Grey, Norbert Leo Butz, and Carole Shelley, was released just weeks after the musical’s opening, arriving in stores from UMe’s now sadly deactivated Decca Broadway label on December 16, 2003. It, too, has been a success story. Wicked has gone triple platinum, no small feat for a cast album today, and spent over 257 weeks to date atop the Billboard Broadway chart. Wicked and its music have also appeared on Glee, Jeopardy, The Simpsons, Ugly Betty and Saturday Night Live, just to name a few. “Popular,” one of the musical’s songs to take on a life of its own, was sampled by Kanye West and Drake for their own “Popular” in 2010, and three years later, Mika incorporated the catchy song introduced by Chenoweth into his “Popular Song,” with vocals on the album version by Priscilla Renea and the single by Ariana Grande.
Universal first revisited Wicked‘s cast recording on October 28, 2008 with a 5th Anniversary Special Edition. That release included an 8-track bonus CD with two songs each from the German and Japanese cast recordings, a new recording of the cut song “Making Good” performed by Broadway’s Stephanie J. Block accompanied by Stephen Schwartz on piano, two pop covers (LeAnn Rimes and Delta Goodrem’s version of Elphaba and Glinda’s pivotal duet “For Good” as produced by the late Phil Ramone; and Kerry Ellis’ “I’m Not That Girl” from her Wicked In Rock EP produced by Brian May of Queen and featuring May and Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins on the track) rounded out by a dance mix of Wicked‘s Act One finale, instant standard and all-around showstopper, “Defying Gravity.” Menzel sang on the track produced by Glen Ballard (Jagged Little Pill). The 10th Anniversary version, released on November 25, 2013, added just Mika and Grande’s “Popular Song” to those eight bonuses.
The 15th Anniversary Special Edition jettisons the past bonus tracks, supplementing the original 19-track album with four new additions from the 2018 NBC-TV special A Very Wicked Halloween. These include Ariana Grande’s “The Wizard and I”; Pentatonix’s “What Is This Feeling?”; Adam Lambert and Ledisi’s “As Long As You’re Mine”; and Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel’s “For Good,” featuring a chorus of actresses who have also portrayed Elphaba and Glinda.
You can order the 15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Wicked at the links below. The set is due in stores on February 8 from Verve, successor to the Decca Broadway imprint. And watch this space – as Wicked continues defying gravity, we have no doubt the oz-tastic musical will be celebrating with a 20th anniversary cast album!
- No One Mourns the Wicked
- Dear Old Shiz
- The Wizard and I
- What is This Feeling?
- Something Bad
- Dancing Through Life
- I’m Not That Girl
- One Short Day
- A Sentimental Man
- Defying Gravity
- Thank Goodness
- I’m Not That Girl (Reprise)
- As Long As You’re Mine
- No Good Deed
- March of the Witch Hunters
- For Good
- The Wizard and I – Ariana Grande
- What Is This Feeling? – Pentatonix
- As Long As You’re Mine – Adam Lambert and Ledisi
- For Good – Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel with company