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'Wicked' Earns 10 Tony Nominations

'Wicked' Earns 10 Tony NominationsWith 10 Tony award nominations, there’s no place like Broadway for ‘Wicked’ – the celebrated musical adapted from a novel by Tufts graduate Gregory Maguire. New York City.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.12.04] In the screen classic "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy clicks her heels three times to escape the grasp of the Wicked Witch of the West. But there was no escaping her this week, as "Wicked" - a Broadway show based on the bestselling book by Tufts graduate Gregory Maguire - dazzled Tony award voters with her side of the Oz story.

"'Wicked', the musical inspired by ‘The Wizard of Oz' that delves into the past of the Wicked Witch of the West, captured 10 Tony Award nominations, burying its competition somewhere under Auntie Em's house," reported the New York Times.

Based on Gregory Maguire's bestselling novel, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West," the musical has been enchanting audiences as one of most beloved Broadway productions of the year - garnering both rave reviews from critics and big box office sales.

"If every musical had a brain, a heart and the courage of ‘Wicked', Broadway really would be a magical place," reported TIME Magazine's arts critics.

The production was nominated in a staggering 10 categories, including Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book. But perhaps the most talked-about nominations are those for the production's protagonists.

"Two witches will go broom to broom in the ‘Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical' category: Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel of ‘Wicked' were both nominated," reported the New York Times.

Performances by both the leading actresses were so good that the New York Star asked, "Will they share the Tony Award or force the voters to choose?"

Despite the production's success, Maguire had no idea what was in store when he published his book in 1995.

When Maguire - who earned his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts in 1990 - first envisioned the untold story of the Oz's wicked witch, he had far from dramatic gold in mind.

"I became interested in the nature of evil, and whether one could really be born bad," Maguire said. "I considered briefly writing a novel about Hitler...But when I realized that nobody had ever written about the second most evil character in our collective American conscious, the Wicked Witch of the West, I thought I had experienced a small moment of inspiration."

But when the rights to his bestselling book - originally purchased for film by Demi Moore's production company (a subsidiary of Universal) - were procured by Tony award-winning stage director Stephen Schwartz, a new vision for the story emerged.

According to Maguire, who told People magazine he "loves the show," watching the transition of his work from the page to the stage was both challenging and exhilarating.

"The play required a more streamlined plot - and a plot more suitable for general audiences - and therefore I observed the story change in ways I hadn't anticipated," Maguire said. "Art requires daring and sacrifice, and I was happy to let the professional dramaturges do the work."

Upon his first viewing of the show - during a pre-Broadway run in San Francisco last June - Maguire watched the audience enthusiastically applaud Elphaba's first appearance.

"They were on her side because of my book," Maguire told People. "That was electrifying."

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