Three days, 15 trucks, and nearly 130 people later, the green-skinned and misunderstood heroine of "Wicked" is ready to defy gravity once again at the ASU Gammage in Tempe.
The national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical has been on the road for almost seven years, and recently played its second sold-out run at Gammage in 2009.
"The audiences here love ‘Wicked,'" company manager Steve Quinn said. "The first two engagements (in Tempe) were completely sold out, and we're very well sold here as well. The audiences appreciate us being here, and we love coming to Tempe. It's fantastic."
Putting on a show like "Wicked," a prequel of sorts to "The Wizard of Oz" that follows The Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good, is no simple task. It takes 70 people, of whom 40 to 50 are all local, three full days to help unload the trucks and put everything together before beginning its month-long run, which began on Feb. 15. Luckily for people like Lisa Adamson, the technical director senior for ASU Gammage, they have some practice up their sleeves.
"The first time out is a big learning experience," Adamson said. "The second time you kind of modify what you did the first time; by the third time, you're doing a lot of, ‘Just like what we did last time.' It gets a little easier, it gets tighter, but every time you do theater it changes so the challenges that you conquered last time are fine but there are new challenges that pop up."
Those challenges include the lack of center aisle seating in the historical Gammage theater, along with a narrow backstage area to house such a large production. They also include complex and potentially hazardous set pieces, such as a tower towards the end of the show that features an open flame - not to mention several extensive flying sequences.
One of the biggest and most notable set pieces is the Time Dragon Clock, which comes to life at the beginning of the show and is likely Quinn's favorite bit.
"I think the Time Dragon Clock is my favorite set piece, really," Quinn said. "It kind of hovers above the audience when they come in, and it sets the tone that you're in for something really special when you see the show."
Besides the technical challenges, the cast of "Wicked" has a mere three days to both rest and rehearse between ending the show in El Paso, Texas, and starting up again in Tempe. The production is also set to be welcoming new cast members to the company over the course of its run.
All hurdles aside, Adamson believes that "Wicked" is a unique show that has changed the type of audience that usually attends theatrical productions at Gammage.
"I think shows like this bring people that wouldn't necessarily come to the theater to the theater and introduces them to our world," Adamson said. "I think that's great."
Production stage manager Jason Daunter can also understand why people connect with the show, and feels that "Wicked" has exactly what the Tin-Man wanted: a heart.
"It's a story of acceptance, and it's a story of friendship," Daunter said. "It's been running for eight years and we're one of eight companies of the show worldwide. I think all of us can feel like an outsider or have felt like an outsider at some point in our life, so I think it speaks to everybody.
"This is our third time back in Tempe and we're thrilled to be here."
"Wicked" is playing through March 11 at ASU Gammage, 1200 S. Forest Ave. in Tempe.
To order tickets, visit www.asugammage.com or call (480) 965-3434.
Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.