"Wicked" Returns To The Wharton Center

Jun 27, 2012

The musical “Wicked” is back in East Lansing.

For the next two weeks, the Wharton Center at Michigan State University will be transformed into the land of Oz for the Tony Award winning “untold story of the witches of Oz.”

WKAR's Scott Pohl went to the Wharton Center for load-in day.

When you’re touring the country with a big production like “Wicked,” there’s bound to be some confusion.

Assistant stage manager Matthew Leiner is responsible for the safety of the cast and crew. He says the first day in a new building is always a little nerve-wracking.

"We double our crew the first day for that reason alone," explains Leiner. "We have some people training our local crew as well as other people running the show and actually making it safe for everybody. Stage managers get doubled that day, so we have two sets of eyes looking at everything. It’s our job to make sure that everybody knows where they’re going, but it’s also the actors responsibility to show up a little early, walk the stage, make sure they know where they’re going.”

For the cast, arriving a little bit early means Wednesday afternoon, prior to the curtain going up at 7:30.

Leiner says for the crew, the Wharton Center is an easy place to work.

"This is a great theater to load into," Leiner states. "A beautiful loading dock, and very easy to get stuff in. There’s challenges in every city. This, I would say, is a great venue to load into.

POHL:  "That might be the first time I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘beautiful loading dock’ in an interview!"

LEINER:  "Well, when you have a multiple track dock that we can get a lot of stuff out very quickly, it always helps!”

This is the third time “Wicked” has come to the Wharton Center. Company manager Erica Norgaard was with the show the first time it was here.

"This exact set hasn’t been in this space before, so there’s just a few little things that they had to figure out," Norgaard says, "but for the most part, a couple of our crew guys had been here the last time with the show, so they knew what to expect and were pretty ready to come into this space. For us backstage, there’s dressing rooms; we’re trying to figure out who goes where and how to fit in. This space is a really great space for us, and in general, East Lansing is a really great place to play.”

Norgaard says she doesn’t think people who saw “Wicked” here before will notice any of those little differences.

She's worked on “Wicked” for eight years now, something she wouldn’t have stuck with if she didn’t believe in the show’s message.

“The bullying that’s happening in places today! This show has such a great message of judging someone based on the color of their skin being green, and anyone can relate to that," Norgaard says. "Whatever you feel like you’re judged for, bullied for, green can be universal.”

"Wicked" runs through July 8 at the Wharton Center.