Video, photos: ‘Wicked’ arrives in Denver for record sixth time

Video by David Lenk and John Moore.

Why is Denver the first to host Wicked six times? ‘It’s the best city,’ says show official

This week, Denver becomes the first city anywhere in the world to host the Broadway phenomenon Wicked for a sixth time, even though Denver is only the 19th-largest metropolitan area in the United States by population.

Why us? Simple, says Production Stage Manager David O’Brien.

Wicked Load-In. Photo by John Moore

Photo by John Moore

“It’s the best city. There’s no question,” he said. “The audiences here are great.”

Denver is a great theatre town, added Wicked Company Manager Steve Quinn, in large part because of the Denver Center’s late producing trailblazers, Randy Weeks and Robert Garner

“Randy and Bob built an amazing subscription base, and they made Denver a first-run tour stop for Broadway and pre-Broadway shows,” Quinn said. “And [DCPA Executive Director Broadway] John Ekeberg continues that legacy today. People know they are going to get quality shows when they come to the Denver Center.”

Wicked announces $25 lottery for tickets in Denver

O’Brien and Quinn were overseeing the “load-in” of the musical onto the Buell Theatre stage on Tuesday. Here are some fun facts and figures about the process and the show:

  • Load-in began on Monday morning and ended just before the first performance on Wednesday night, a period of about 30 work hours over three days.
  • The show traveled to Denver on 13 massive trucks. How does that compare with most other traveling shows? “I would say the majority of musicals out there probably travel in about five or six trucks,” O’Brien said. “It’s definitely double or even triple the size of a lot of other shows out there.”
  • The load-in process involves about eight Wicked traveling employees, along with 80 local crew. (About 30 local stagehands will help throughout the run of the show. And nine local musicians will join six who travel with the show for an orchestra of 15).
  • Wicked Load-In. Photo by John Moore

    Photo by John Moore

    The first set piece to be installed is always the overhead dragon, which then oversees all other aspects of the Wicked load-in. 

  • O’Brien said the show travels with $2 million worth of costumes.
  • The iconic bubble that provides Glinda with one of the most famous stage entrances in history is the same bubble that was used when Wicked first appeared on the 2004 Tony Awards. Because the show has toured for 14 years now, dozens of actors have played the role. And each one, Quinn said, has added her autograph to the bubble.
  • Having recently celebrated its 15th anniversary on Broadway, Wicked is the winner of more than 100 international awards including the Grammy Award and three Tony Awards. Wicked has been performed in more than 100 cities in 16 countries around the world and has thus far been translated into six languages.
  • Wicked has amassed nearly $5 billion in global sales and has been seen by over 60 million people worldwide.

O’Brien and Quinn say the show’s enduring popularity is simple to explain: The story, a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” is timeless, and its themes of friendship and love are universal. “It’s about these two very strong women, but I think everyone can see themselves in the story,” Quinn said. “And Stephen Schwartz wrote an incredible score.”

Wicked has become a tradition for many families that is now starting to be handed down the generations. For them, Quinn promises: “The quality of the show maintains itself after 14 years.” And for those who have yet to experience it, he adds: “This is our sixth time in Denver. So if you haven’t seen it yet, you have to kind of wonder what it is that you are missing.”

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

SNA Auction Item WickedWicked in Denver: Ticket information

  • Writers: Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire; music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz; book by Winnie Holzman
  • Director: Tony Award winner Joe Mantello with musical staging by Tony Award winner Wayne Cilento
  • Dates: May 8-June 9
  • Where: Buell Theatre
  • Tickets: Available by calling 303-893-4100, in person in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at 14th and Curtis streets or, online by clicking here:

Note: Please be advised that the Denver Center for the Performing Arts – – is the ONLY authorized ticket provider for Wicked in Denver. As with all productions produced and/or presented by the DCPA, ticket buyers who purchase tickets from a ticket broker or any third party run the risk of overpaying or purchasing illegitimate tickets. Patrons should be aware that the DCPA is unable to reprint or replace lost or stolen tickets and is unable to contact patrons with information regarding time changes or other pertinent updates regarding the performance. Patrons found in violation of the DCPA Ticket Purchase and Sale Terms and Policies may have all of their tickets canceled.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Photos from the Wicked Load-In:

Wicked Load-In. Photo by John Moore

Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Announcing the daily Wicked lottery:

A day-of-performance lottery will be held for a limited number of orchestra seats throughout the Denver run of Wicked. Two and one-half hours prior to each performance, people who present themselves at the Buell Theatre box office will have their names placed in a lottery drum; 30 minutes later, names will be drawn for a limited number of orchestra seats at $25 each, cash only. This lottery is available only in-person at the box office, with a limit of two tickets per person. Lottery participants must have a valid photo ID when submitting their entry form and, if chosen, when purchasing tickets. Click here for more information.

From 2015: Wicked bonds mothers and daughters over a decade in Denver

Video bonus: Our exclusive interview with Stephen Schwartz in 2015:

Video by John Moore and David Lenk for the DCPA NewsCenter.