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Wander Minnesota: Staging ‘Wicked’

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Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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The beloved Broadway musical “Wicked” returns this week to Minnesota, opening on Sept. 18 and running through Oct. 27 at Minneapolis’ gorgeous Orpheum Theatre. It’s a big show with lots of moving pieces and parts, and behind the scenes, it’s quite an event getting it all unloaded and put together.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

According to “Wicked”’s production manager, Steve Quinn, it takes 14 trucks and 100 people to make the magic happen. And it happens fast—the trucks started unloading the morning of Sept. 17 and will be ready for the first performance the evening of Sept. 18.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

It takes even less time to load out at the end of the run: eight hours.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Pay no attention to the man under the stage.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

A production as elaborate as this one not only has a lot going on onstage, but offstage too, and above and under the stage.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Not to mention a phenomenal amount of lighting. This one small piece of scenery must have had hundreds, if not thousands, of lights attached to it.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Production stage manager Jason Daunter has been with “Wicked” for five years, two of which have been on the road. His job description is fairly—well—daunting: “I’m a jack of all trades, wearing a lot of hats on a daily basis,” he says. “I’m responsible for maintaining the artistic integrity of the show.”

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Not the least of Daunter’s duties is teaching cast members their roles. “I teach all the roles,” he says. “We turn over the contracts for the actors about every 6-9 months. I know every single line in this show.”

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Glinda’s bubble, just awaiting her arrival.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

It’s strange to view the empty theater from the construction-zone stage.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

Of course, no show is complete without its own boutique.

(credit: Amy Rea)

(credit: Amy Rea)

The mannequins—and requisite T-shirts—just waiting their turn to shine.

(credit: Joan Marcus)

(credit: Joan Marcus)

It looks chaotic and crazy, and it’s hard to imagine that just a little over 24 hours later, this is what it will look like.

Tickets are still available, but expected to go quickly.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer’s Guide (Countryman Press, 2008), as well as the upcoming Backroads & Byways of Minnesota (Countryman Press, spring 2011).

She grew up in northern Minnesota, attended the University of Minnesota, and bounced around various careers including managing a maternity store and working as a travel agent before settling into her writing career.

She’s married with two teenage boys and two rather poorly trained dogs.

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