SCHENECTADY -- The Time Dragon was in place Monday night and ready for action, two days before the curtain goes up for Wednesday’s opening performance of “Wicked” at Proctors.
After the show’s month-long stay in Tampa, Florida, ended Sunday night, 13 semitrailers began heading up the East Coast to Schenectady for the beginning of a 13-day run. In those trucks, each 52-feet long, were all the props and scenery for the national touring production, including the largest prop connected with the show: the Time Dragon.
“Oh yeah, the dragon definitely breaks up into parts,” said David O’Brien, production stage manager of “Wicked’s” national touring company. “That’s the first thing we put up, and everybody knows it’s there. They’ll see it when they come into the theater, but it does move. It moves back and forth, and the wings move. It’s quite something to see.”
Along with the Time Dragon, which is approximately 40-feet wide and weighs about 40 pounds (it’s made of fabric and urethane foam), another key prop in the show is the bubble.
“There are a lot of big pieces in the show, and some of them I won’t reveal,” said O’Brien, a Connecticut native who started his professional career at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham back in 1980. “But the bubble -- Glinda’s bubble -- is a big one. When she comes riding in, that’s a great moment, and then there’s all the rigging for Elphaba flying. There’s plenty of big pieces.”
As production stage manager, O’Brien is in charge of the show since the director, Joe Mantello, is finished with his work. Steve Quinn, meanwhile, is the company manager, and his biggest concern is getting the production from one town to the next, usually all within a 24- or 36-hour period.
“The most nervous I get is making sure that the show gets transported from city to city, especially in the winter months,” said Quinn, who grew up in Iowa. “We have had a mild winter, so the long trip from Florida to Schenectady was uneventful, which was great. But making sure everybody gets here on time, the scenery, the cast and the crew, is what worries me.”
“Wicked” is based on Albany native Gregory McGuire’s 1995 book, a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz,” and centers on the relationship between two witches, Glinda and Elphaba. It won three Tonys after opening on Broadway in 2003 and is one of the most successful shows in history.
“It’s a timeless story that’s still very relevant today,” said Quinn, who has been with the national touring production for 12 years. “Who hasn’t, at some point in their life, felt like a green girl sometime -- an outsider. It’s about the issue of bullying, and it’s a very powerful message about two very strong women and their acceptance of each other.”
Playing Glinda at Proctors will be Amanda Jane Cooper, who played the same character in the very first touring production of “Wicked.” Playing Elphaba is Jessica Vosk, whose Broadway credits include “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Finding Neverland,” and “The Bridges of Madison County.”
Ballston Spa native Anthony Festa is also in the cast as a member of the ensemble and as understudy to Fiyero and the Witch’s Father.
Proctors announced Monday that a ticket lottery will be held before each performance, with winners earning a seat in the theater for $25. Anyone interested should be at the theater two and one-half hours before the show begins. (Wednesday's debut starts at 7:30 p.m.)
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected].