Passing the Magic: Wicked's Generational Encore in Louisville

Sep 13, 2023 at 2:48 pm
The National Touring Company of "Wicked."
The National Touring Company of "Wicked." Photo by Joan Marcus

This story comes to LEO through our partnership with Audience Magazine: Your Performing Arts Connection.

In the radiant pantheon of Broadway, few musicals shimmer with the enduring allure of Wicked.

A mesmerizing tapestry of vibrant characters, emotive scores, and a narrative that turns familiar tales on their heads, this masterpiece has captivated audiences globally, weaving its magic for almost two decades. But beyond its dazzling visuals and enthralling performances lies a deeper magic, one that transcends time and binds generations.

Imagine parents, with memories of their first encounter with the Emerald City, now clutching the eager hands of their children, leading them into the world of Elphaba and Glinda. It’s not just a musical; it's a rite of passage, a legacy. As the curtain rises in Louisville, it isn’t merely about revisiting Oz but about experiencing the power of a shared cultural heritage.

This generational embrace, where stories of old are retold with renewed vigor, forms the heart of Wicked’s timeless charm. And as Leslie Broecker, President of PNC Broadway in Louisville, rightly put it, this isn't just a performance — it's a layered experience, evolving with each new generation that gets touched by its enchantment.

All That a Musical Should Be

In the thriving arts scene of Louisville, few voices carry as much weight and passion as Broecker's. As the face of Broadway in Louisville, she's been an instrumental figure in knitting together the rich tapestry of Broadway performances with the culture and history of the city.

Broecker has witnessed firsthand the undying loyalty of Louisville's audiences. "Sales have been tremendous. People are so happy to be back in
the theater," she says. “This isn't just about a city enjoying a performance; it's a testament to an audience's resilience and unyielding love for the stage, especially after a year of uncertainty and longing.
"The live experience is the live experience," she emphasizes, capturing the essence of why Wicked is more than just another tour stop in Louisville. After a hiatus since 2015, which she notes was "actually a long window," the show's return could've been sooner if not for global events. Yet, the delay only seems to have heightened the city's anticipation.

"Wicked doesn’t begin until Wednesday evening,” Broecker adds. “They actually took an extra day to get the show ready to go.”
It's a nod to the meticulous preparations and the promise of an unparalleled experience for the audience. "It has all the elements of what a fabulous musical should have,” she says. “That’s why this show has been the success it has been."
With Broecker at the helm, Louisville is not just watching a musical; it's becoming part of an evolving legacy.

Broadway in the Bluegrass

Nestled within the rolling bluegrass hills, Louisville has always been more than just a city of horse races and baseball bats. It's been a cultural crossroad, an epicenter of artistry and theater, where stories from around the world find resonance in its heartland spirit.

Historically, the city's theaters have been stages for grand tales of love, tragedy, comedy, and magic. From the ornate facades of grand auditoriums to the cozy corners of intimate playhouses, every brick and curtain in Louisville seems to whisper tales of bygone performances.

This is not a city that merely watches; it immerses, it engages, and it passes on.
Generations of Louisvillians have sat under the same ceiling, basking in the glow of stage lights. Parents who still remember when they heard “Popular” or “Defying Gravity” for the first time now watch as their children, wide-eyed and enthralled, experience the same wonder. It's this intertwining of the past and present, this sharing of joy and awe, that makes Louisville's theater scene uniquely poignant.
With Wicked gracing the stage once more, it's not just a Broadway hit returning; it's another chapter in Louisville's storied theater heritage, waiting to be shared and cherished.

A Celebration of Milestones

Two decades is a long time for any production to hold the stage, and yet, Wicked does it with an ease that feels almost magical. As the curtain rises in cities around the world in 2023, it's a milestone moment — the musical celebrates its 20th anniversary on the illustrious stages of Broadway.

And what makes this moment truly spellbinding? The Emerald City’s magic unfurls right here in Louisville during this monumental milestone. "It will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Broadway while they're in Louisville,” says Broecker.

Hosting Wicked during this landmark year isn't just an ordinary event for Louisville. It's a mark of distinction, a nod to the city's vibrant theater culture, and an affirmation of its status as a premier destination for Broadway tours.

Behind the Songs

Music has a way of speaking directly to our souls, and Wicked has been no exception in weaving its musical tapestry across heartstrings globally. The songs — poignant, jubilant, introspective — have painted the skies of Oz with emotions felt universally.

Broecker shares some of her treasured moments in the musical: "I love 'For Good,' because it speaks to the passion of friendship. 'I've been changed for good because I knew you.' That's the crux of friendship."

Such raw sentiments mirror our own experiences, reminding us of timeless bonds and memories forged in song and story.

Young Stars, Old Favorites

With each performance, Wicked undergoes a rejuvenation, embracing fresh talent while remaining anchored in its legacy. This tour showcases a thrilling blend of the past meeting the present with Frankie Valli's granddaughter, Olivia Valli, stepping into Elphaba's shoes.

"She's an up-and-comer,” says Broecker. “It's neat to have her here after we presented The Jersey Boys." The interplay between established legacies and emerging stars offers audiences a unique narrative experience, one where timeless tales find new voices.

Now, more than ever, Louisville beckons with a promise of magic — a tale told across generations, waiting to be embraced once more. Join hands with loved ones old and young, and step into the world of Wicked. Feel the thrum of shared memories, the pull of songs that have become lullabies, and witness as a story unfolds, bridging gaps between generations.

"I hope when someone comes to the theater,” says Broecker, “they get goosebumps.”

So, Louisville, here's your chance to feel that enchantment once more. Come, be a part of this generational encore. Tickets are available at or by calling 502-584-7777.