The set for “Wicked” is one of the stars of the show, and it travels in spacious (if not stylish) accommodations.
Taking the full Broadway production on the road calls for 11 full tractor-trailers packed with scenery, and on Monday afternoon they came calling at the Century II theater.
A crew of dedicated professionals almost 100 strong is hard at work unpacking and preparing the set. David O’Brien, production stage manager, has every confidence that every last piece will be in place for opening night on Wednesday.
The team, according to O’Brien, functions flawlessly thanks to the many opportunities they’ve had to practice this almost miraculous transformation. He likened the current crew’s familiarity with the process to “clockwork” and “a well-oiled machine.”
Impressively, only about 20 of the people working to prepare the set are full-time show employees; the majority of the crew is drawn from the local community.
“Wicked” last graced the stage at Century II in 2009, early on in its nationwide tour. O’Brien says being on familiar ground has made the load-in work significantly easier on the production team.
The Broadway juggernaut is certainly a well-organized traveling show. O’Brien still has access to copious notes taken during the show’s first Wichita appearance, which has helped his team do an even better job of setting up.
A handful of veteran actors and actresses who have been with the show since 2009 are making return appearances here in Wichita, but the majority of the cast is new.
O’Brien says there’s a certain amount of constant traffic between the local theater scene and the Broadway show, and it flows both ways.
Experiencing “Wicked” in Wichita is very close to seeing “Wicked” on Broadway. Besides the fact that the set can’t be built out into the audience area, the setup is virtually identical.