The Curran's newly refurbished chandelier outshines her protective gown. (c) Jim Norrena 2016

Getting Ready to Out-Glisten Glinda

The Curran's famous chandelier has been cleaned and refurbished to its original luster. Right now, though, it is costumed a bit like Glinda in WICKED, which had its world premiere here at the Curran in 2003, starring Kristin Chenoweth.

Last year, Kristin recalled her time at the Curran when I was hanging out with her a bit in New York and how much she was aware of the theater's rich history when she was appearing there, especially Robin Williams having performed his one-man show here the summer before in 2002. When he died, she recalled having found his signature on the wall of the theatre from his time there and running her fingers along it for good luck as she was creating the character of Glinda. "There is has been so much joy created in that theatre," she said, tearing up. "Robin created it. We did with WICKED. But the Curran is kind of sacred to me in lots of ways."

The Curran's Carole Shorenstein Hays has also recalled Wicked's early days here in San Francisco. "Producers need to be somewhere with a challenging audience and critical community," she's said when remembering those first WICKED weeks at the Curran. "San Francisco is a perfect fit for that. The sophistication and diversity of the Bay Area residents and the energy and spirit that defines San Francisco's cultural curiosity offer just the right environment for the creative process to occur."

There is has been so much joy created in that theater. Robin created it. We did with WICKED. But the Curran is kind of sacred to me in lots of ways.

Kristin Chenoweth

WICKED's book writer, Winnie Holzman has recalled her own time here in San Francisco during those days when the creative team began to realize they might have a hit on their hands. The first sign was the crowd out in front of theatre one day. "Seeing all the people, Stephen [Schwartz, the show's composer and lyricist] immediately thought there had been some sort of accident," Holzman has remembered. "But it was a line down the block for tickets. We were so focused on making the show better that it didn't occur to us that people might be enjoying it in the moment. We were so grateful to San Francisco audiences. They were so enthused. It's a lot easier to fix something when you feel people are into it. That makes for a much fuller, better experience."

The chandelier's hand-sculpted glass peeks from beneath her gown.

 The chandelier's hand-sculpted glass peeks from beneath her gown.

Like a lot of writers, Winnie likes to write at Starbucks and found the one across the street from the Curran on Geary a great place to focus herself back then. One day, she walked in to settle in and get to work with her cup of coffee and realized that up on the chalkboard where the day's special were listed there were also drawings of little broomsticks and green witches. That was the sign for her that she was on the right track.

I am going to check that chalkboard soon myself and see if there is an illustration of the Curran's refurbished chandelier up there.