'Wicked'coming to town

Hailed as "a cultural phenomenon" by the industry trade paper Variety and called "the defining musical of the decade" by The New York Times, the multiple Tony Award-winning "Wicked" opens here on April 18, 2012, part of NCPAC's Best of Broadway series.

Something "Wicked" this way comes.

To the North Charleston Performing Arts Center to be precise. And, with apologies to Ray Bradbury, it's a bit of a coup.

Hailed as "a cultural phenomenon" by the industry trade paper Variety and called "the defining musical of the decade" by The New York Times, when the multiple Tony Award-winning "Wicked" opens here on April 18, 2012, it will mark the first ever two-week engagement enjoyed by any show at the Performing Arts Center or North Charleston Coliseum.

It's the centerpiece of the 2011-2012 Best of Broadway series announced this week, which also features engagements of "In the Heights" (Nov. 15-16), a reprise of "Mamma Mia" (Dec. 6-8) and the appearance of "Mary Poppins" (Feb. 1-4). The series is presented by Nederlander Producing Company of America and the Performing Arts Center.

"The Best of Broadway premiere engagement of 'Wicked' is one of the most anticipated shows in the Performing Arts Center's history," said Dave Holscher, Performing Arts Center general manager. "It's been one of the most requested shows from our season-ticket holders, and we are excited to have it anchor the 2011-2012 season."

Currently in its eighth year on Broadway, and still playing to packed houses around the world, "Wicked" has been seen by an estimated 28 million theatergoers. Critics regard the musical as a success story of a magnitude unseen since the peak years of "Phantom of the Opera." To date it is 17th longest-running Broadway show in history.

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman, the musical is based on the 1995 novel "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire, which served as a companion piece of sorts to Victor Fleming's classic 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." "Wicked" is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz.

The Best of Broadway series is now in its 13th season.

"In the Heights," which captured best musical among its four 2008 Tony Awards, is described as an "exhilarating journey into a vibrant Manhattan community, a place where the coffee is light and sweet, the windows are always open, and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music."

Based on the music of the Swedish pop band ABBA, "Mamma Mia" is Catherine Johnson's "sunny, funny tale" unfolding on a Greek island paradise, wherein a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father on the eve of her wedding ushers in three men from her mother's past.