In a special ceremony today, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical WICKED donated production objects to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Costume elements from the show’s protagonist Elphaba will join objects from the musicals The Lion King, Rent and the King and I in the museum’s permanent entertainment collections.
Designed by Tony Award-winning costume designer Susan Hilferty, the costume components include Elphaba’s hat, broom and dress. The original Broadway production of WICKED opened in the fall of 2003, and this costume was made for Mandy Gonzalez who played Elphaba from March 23, 2010, through Jan. 23, 2011.
“Hilferty’s designs bring the story of the witches of Oz prior to Dorothy’s arrival to life,” said Dwight Blocker Bowers, curator at the museum. “This donation is a significant addition to the museum’s entertainment collection and shows the enduring cultural contribution of Broadway hits to American life.”
The costume is currently on display in the “American Stories” exhibition, which showcases historical and cultural touchstones of American history through more than 100 objects from the museum’s vast holdings. WICKED tells the story of two girls that meet in the Land of Oz: one, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood, while the other is traditionally beautiful, ambitious and popular. WICKED tells the story of their journey and how these friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.
The costume donated to the museum’s entertainment collection appears in WICKED after Elphaba has become the iconic Wicked Witch. Elphaba’s dress is rooted in the earth. Rocks, minerals, coal and mica inspire the many colors according to Hilferty. The dress seems to be black, but it is made up of many colors and different fabrics. Made with more than 40 yards of fabric, this dress has been gathered, beaded, embroidered and quilted to make up the final design; Hilferty describes her designs for Wicked as “twisted Edwardian.” The Tony Award-winning design has aspects of an Edwardian silhouette, from the corset to the mutton-chop sleeves.
These WICKED objects join a rich collection of museum artifacts with Broadway origins, including costumes from the Broadway productions of Hello, Dolly!, A Chorus Line, Cats, Fiddler on the Roof, This Is the Army, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Mame and Lorelei; theater awards, including three Tony Awards; props from the off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks; Rose Marie’s copy of the musical score of Top Banana; and numerous Broadway playbills and posters. The museum’s Archives Center also has a number of other theatrical scripts, video and audiotapes in its Luther Davis Collection.
Now in its ninth year, WICKED has won 35 major awards, including a Grammy Award and three Tony Awards. It has been called “A Cultural Phenomenon” by Variety and “The Best Musical of the Decade” by Entertainment Weekly. Seen by more than 35 million people, there are seven productions of WICKED worldwide, including two concurrent North American tours. Donna Vivino, who plays Elphaba, and Tiffany Haas, who plays Glinda, will perform. The music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz, and it is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.
The museum is currently renovating its west exhibition wing with new galleries on American business, democracy and culture; an education center; new spaces for the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation; public plazas; a Hall of Music for live performances; and the addition of a first-floor window wall with views to the Washington Monument. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free.
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