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American singer and actress Idina Menzel of "Wicked" performs on stage during the "58th Annual Tony Awards" at Radio City Music Hall on June 6, 2004 in New York City. The Tony Awards are presented by the League of American Theatres and Producers and the American Theatre Wing. Idina Menzel in 'Wicked.'

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The Wicked Movie Has ‘Started Gearing Up’

After over a decade on Broadway, it seems like the right time for the blockbuster musical Wicked to make its way to the big screen, but despite the occasional flash of interest from directors, development on the project has been stalled for a long time. That may all change soon, according to Stephen Schwartz. Vulture caught up with the Wicked composer at last night’s opening of If/Then (starring Wicked alumna Idina Menzel), and when we asked about the movie version of his Wizard of Oz prequel, he told us, “We're starting to do some work on it. We've actually started gearing up on it a little bit.”

Still, don't buy your ticket to the premiere just yet. “I don't know exactly how many years away it is,” admitted Schwartz, who's currently pondering how faithful the movie should be to the beloved stage production. “What are we going to change?” he mused out loud. “What are we going to keep? How do you use a whole new language and medium to tell the story? [We can] really look at it again and say, ‘Oh, we can do this, and we’ve always wanted to do that and we couldn’t onstage, but we can in a movie.’ We’re actually having a blast.”

As for Schwartz’s other hotly anticipated project, the Broadway musical Houdini, he says, “It's on hold for now.” A major hiccup came when Hugh Jackman backed out of the project in December. “I think he didn't really understand, to be perfectly honest, how much work a brand-new musical takes,” Schwartz said. “Every show he's ever done, whether it's been a musical or a straight play, has been a show that somebody else has done … When he suddenly looked at the fact that he has this other career, it just became impractical for him, frankly.” In other words, the disappearing actor pulled a Houdini.

Photo: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images