(Photos by Brian Putnam. Click images for Wicked's “Defying Inequality” slideshow.)

On Sunday January 11, after two years of being the must-see musical at Hollywood's Pantages

Theater, fans bid Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West a fond

farewell as the curtain fell for Wicked's final Southern California performance. However, the cast wasn't ready to pack their bags quite yet. Last night the national tour of the hit musical hosted “Defying Inequality” benefits in four major cities across the country – Los Angeles, New York, Louisville and Chicago – with the intent to promote equal rights and raise money to overturn Proposition 8. L.A. Weekly's Patrick Range McDonald reports:

Last night, at The Factory in West Hollywood, cast members of the Broadway show Wicked performed a passionate, hour and a half-long cabaret show to raise money for full, gay marriage equality in the battleground states of California, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont.

Tom Whitman
, a gay nightlife promoter and one of one of OUT Magazine's “100 People of the Year 2008,” produced the special evening, which featured performances by Megan Hilty, Eden Espinoza, Shoshana Bean, Jo Anne Worley, and
Wicked's songwriter, Stephen Schwartz.

The benefit was something of a nationwide event, with other Wicked cast members performing in New York, Chicago, and Louisville on the same night. All of the proceeds will be split evenly among four gay rights groups: Equality California, Empire State Pride Agenda, Garden State Equality, and Vermont Freedom to Marry. At the end of the show, Stephen Schwartz suggested that other Broadway shows hold similar events. “We're going to need to pour a lot of money into this cause,” he said.

McDonald spoke to Whitman prior to the event about his choice to team up with Wicked. “I'm a huge Wicked

fan, and when the cast wants to do a benefit, you say yes,” Whitman

said. He continued with a few words on the passage of Proposition 8 and its

affect on the gay community, “It was a big deal to me because I want to

get married someday. And I didn't think we were going to lose, so it

was a wake up call for all of us.”

Though Whitman is known for producing hundreds of highly successful events a year including Cherry Pop, voted L.A. Weekly's best Gay Bar Event

in 2008, he is also intent on helping the community in other ways like

fund raising for the Prop. 8 cause. “I have a skills set that allows me

to give back to the gay community,” he told McDonald. “So I try to do

what I can do.”

LA Weekly