‘Behind the Emerald Curtain’ gives peek at ‘Wicked’ LA
by Erin Aeurbach
June 22, 2007
One evening, two Broadway actors performing in the original cast of Wicked
were talking about the phenomenal response to the show. It gave them an idea.
Sean McCourt and Tony Galde created Behind the Emerald Curtain
, a weekly peek into everything it takes to produce and maintain this lavish and technically complex show.
Now that the Los Angeles production of Wicked
is enjoying such a hearty response, Southern California audiences can also see Behind the Emerald Curtain
every Tuesday at the Pantages Theater.
“There’s something special about Wicked
that lends itself to this kind of backstage exploration,” McCourt said.
Costumes and props are displayed in Behind the Emerald
Curtain, a look at the creative journey of Wicked.
“It’s such a cultural phenomenon.”
Los Angeles cast members Matt Stocke and Laura Dysarczyk offer 90 minutes of insight into what the company’s 125 cast and crew members go through onstage and off to make every performance work.
The musical is based on Gregory Maguire’s novel about the friendship between the witches of Oz, Glinda and Elphaba, before Dorothy and Toto entered the picture.
The experience begins in the Pantages lobby, transformed into a Wicked
museum. It includes a scenic model of the stage and pictures of costume sketches, scenery and cast members from the various companies of the production.
Stocke and Dysarczyk explain the detail in Susan Hilferty’s Tony Award-winning costumes, some of which they show so patrons can inspect the imported fabrics, intricate beadwork and deliberately asymmetrical hemlines.
Dysarczyk is a swing, or standby, actress.
“I have to learn all the female ensemble roles and be ready to go on at anytime,” Dysarczyk explained.
“What’s incredibly unique about Wicked
is that each of my 15 costumes has been custom-made for me.”
Most shows don’t have that kind of money, and Dysarczyk said she’s been cast in other productions because she wears the same bra size as the woman who she auditioned to replace.
The behind-the-scenes Wicked
tour continues inside the theater for a look at Eugene Lee’s Tony Award-winning scenic design.
The guides show video clips of the creative team and allow time to answer questions.
Behind the Emerald Curtain
has defied McCourt’s expectations.
“We thought it would be all about the demographic, that only the diehard Wicked
fans would come, and that was true at first, but it turned out to be a great seminar for anyone with an interest in theater.”
The experience is a fantastic teaching tool, according to Galde, who still performs in the Broadway cast of Wicked
“We’re opening eyes of young people to the world of show business,” he said. “There are amazing opportunities to work in all parts of the theater.”
Wicked Fun Facts
One of the most common questions asked: How do they get Elphaba all green for each performance? Each costume in the Los Angeles production of Wicked is custom-made for the actor wearing it. They require several fittings.
The two female lead characters —Elphaba and Glinda — have their own stand-bys. These actresses attend every performance and must be ready to fill in at any point in the show at a moment’s notice.
There are more than 90 wigs and masks in the show. Each human hair is hand-sewn into the lace for a realistic appearance.
The national tour of Wicked uses 17 semis to haul two complete sets. While the cast finishes performing in one city, part of the crew sets up the second set in another city.
Sources: Sean McCourt and Behind the Emerald Curtain