Sure, it looks fun from out here, but life inside the national tour of “Wicked” can be grueling. The company performs eight shows a week, Tuesday through Friday, nearly 52 weeks a year. Typically, cast members receive only one night off a week to rest: Monday.
And on Monday, Jan. 25, cast members will donate their one night off to perform a whole new cabaret-style show at the Blumenthal’s McGlohon Theater in Charlotte, N.C. The cabaret will raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) and the local Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (RAIN).
The show, marketed as “Witches Night Off,” is produced by two company members, boyfriends Ryan Jackson and Justin Wirick, who met after joining the national tour in 2010. The duo has produced about two to three charity nights annually in different cities all around the country.
“We’re literally rehearsing these numbers before shows, in between shows, in the dressing rooms, in the hallways. Anywhere we can find space, “ said Wirick as he prepared for a 1 p.m. matinee in a backstage dressing room. “It takes a lot of work. We’re basically building a show from scratch.”
Jackson and Wirick have spent the last several weeks contacting charities, producing television and radio spots, organizing rehearsal space, finding local musicians, and rehearsing their own numbers they plan to perform in the cabaret.
It helps that the couple has produced “Witches Night Off” twice before in the Queen City, and the charity night has been periodically delighting audiences in other cities since 2009, the same year “Wicked” began its national tour.
Then-company member Don Richard produced the first “Wicked” charity night that year, and Jackson and Wirick took over producing the event after Richard left the tour in 2012.
“We still call him for advice from time to time,” said Wirick. “He was very big on charity fundraising, and he’s kind of our inspiration.”
Audience members can expect to enjoy a range of non-Ozian material performed by current cast members and some cast alumni, all accompanied by area musicians. Expect everything from musical theatre to rock to even country, Wirick said.
There will also be an opportunity for audience members to participate in a live auction, with chances to go backstage with the cast at Ovens Auditorium. Event goers could win seats inside the orchestra pit for a “Wicked” performance, or a chance to perform a walk-on role in the show wearing a Tony-award winning costume.
The “Witches Night Off” charity cabaret is part of an ongoing series of performances by the touring company to support charitable causes. The “Wicked,” Munchkinland Tour has raised over $3.7 million in donations for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and local AIDS service organizations all over the country.
Want to attend?
“Witches Night Off” plays at the Blumenthal’s McGlohon Theatre in Spirit Square on Jan. 25. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. The McGlohon is located at 345 N. College Street Charlotte, N.C.
VIP admission is $100, which includes a pre-show reception with “Wicked” cast members from 6- 7 p.m. and preferred seating. General admission tickets are also available for $35.
To purchase tickets, call 704-372-1000 or visit WitchesNightOff.org.
“Wicked” is playing at Charlotte’s Ovens Auditorium through Jan. 31. Show times are Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to “Wicked” are available at the Belk Theater Box Office, by phone at 704-372-1000 and online at blumenthalarts.org.