The creative minds of the wildly successful Broadway show Wicked — producer Marc Platt, playwright Winnie Holzman, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz — have been meeting with some of Hollywood’s premier musical directors… and J.J. Abrams. The play, itself an adaptation of the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from L. Frank Baum’s classic Wizard of Oz and casts the emerald-skinned enchantress in a far more heroic light than the original story.
While Abrams’ composition of the 17-second opening theme to LOST may not qualify him as a musical director, the other candidates (James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall) have much stronger resumes. Mangold provided deft directing to Walk the Line, Murphy created Glee (but also Nip/Tuck), and Marshall was behind the camera for Chicago, the film often cited (along with Moulin Rouge!) for bringing musicals back into Hollywood’s good graces. For more, hit the jump.
It is good to see Universal is getting serious about Wicked but, as Deadline notes, they just about have no choice but to get this project moving quickly. Disney has two Oz-related projects in the development, one a retelling of the original 1939 film and the other is the Sam Raimi-directed The Great and Powerful Oz. While Wicked arguably has greater name recognition due to its recent success it is never a good idea to be the last one to the dance, especially when box office profits hang in the balance.
Personally, I think it will be interesting to see how closely the film version follows the stage adaptation versus the original book. The book is a bit darker and more nuanced than the play — something that probably has not escaped the notice of a director like Abrams. More on Wicked as it comes.