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'Wicked' attracts 66,000 to Greensboro's Tanger Center
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'Wicked' attracts 66,000 to Greensboro's Tanger Center

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"Wicked"

Talia Suskauer, left, plays Elphaba and Allison Bailey plays Glinda in the North American touring production of “Wicked." The show ran from Oct. 6 through Sunday at the Steve Tanger Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Greensboro. It was the first play in the 2021-22 Broadway series at the Tanger Center.

GREENSBORO — The Broadway blockbuster “Wicked” attracted more than 66,000 guests to the new Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts.

The first musical in the Tanger Center’s 2021-22 Broadway series completed a 24-performance run on Sunday. It was presented in partnership with Nederlander and Professional Facilities Management.

It’s not only the longest, but the highest-grossing engagement of a Broadway show ever to have performed in the Triad, Tanger Center officials announced Tuesday.

It was the first touring Broadway show to resume since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It also was the first touring Broadway show at the newly-opened, 3,023-seat Tanger Center at 300 N. Elm St., a $93 million project financed by the city and private donors.

The figures showed that Tanger officials and audiences were glad to see “Wicked,” after seven-plus years of waiting to bring Broadway back after War Memorial Auditorium closed.

“The amazing success of ‘Wicked’ was an incredible start to our inaugural Broadway season as audiences were blown away by this spectacular production,” Matt Brown, managing director of the Greensboro Coliseum complex and the Tanger Center, said in Tuesday’s announcement.

“With three weeks of capacity crowds at every performance, this record-setting run demonstrated that Tanger Center brings an undeniable energy to downtown Greensboro and generates tremendous economic impact to the entire Piedmont Triad Region,” Brown said.

Based on analysis by The Broadway League, the New York City-based national trade association for the Broadway industry, the impact of “Wicked” on the local Triad economy is estimated at more than $11 million, Tanger officials said in Tuesday’s announcement.

This impact is generated by tourism dollars spent in locales such as hotels, local restaurants and parking decks. A stage production this large employs nearly 100 local stagehands, hair and wardrobe professionals, musicians and merchandise sellers.

From here, the Tanger Center Broadway season features “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Come From Away,” “Disney’s The Lion King” and “Mean Girls.”

“Wicked” looks at what happened in the Land of Oz, but from a different angle.

Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin, who is smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent.

When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships, until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

With a score that includes the hits “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “For Good,” “Wicked” has been hailed by The New York Times as “the defining musical of the decade,” and by Time Magazine as “a magical Broadway musical with brains, heart, and courage.” NBC Nightly News calls the hit musical “the most successful Broadway show ever.”

What Tuesday’s announcement didn’t include was an estimate of the number of Tanger Center ticket-buyers who didn’t attend or sought refunds because “Wicked” did not require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test to attend.

Some venues and events do, including the Carolina Theatre of Greensboro and the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Several ticket-buyers wrote in the News & Record that they would not attend for that reason.

Asked whether Tanger Center had numbers on how many people that represents, or bought tickets that weren’t used, or who sought refunds for that reason, coliseum complex Public Relations Manager Andrew Brown said: “Prior to the season starting we refunded 30 season Broadway tickets. That was out of nearly 17,500 subscribers so obviously an extremely small number.”

Tanger Center allows individual acts to determine whether COVID-19 vaccinations or negative tests will be required for entry. The Broadway Series has not required that.

The venue does, however, require that audiences wear masks during performances, as ordered by the Guilford County Board of Health.

“Wicked” has gone to its next stop in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Up next in the Tanger Center’s Broadway season: “Beautiful: the Carole King Musical.” It runs for eight performances from Nov. 9 to 14.

Find more details and ticket information at tangercenter.com.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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