‘Wicked’s’ Menzel sweeps up ‘Dust’ pic

Thesp joins Hayek, Farrell in Depression-era adaptation

A correction was made to this article on May 20, 2004.

Idina Menzel, who plays the green-face Wicked Witch in hit stage tuner “Wicked,” has landed a co-starring role in the Robert Towne film “Ask the Dust.” Adapted from John Fante’s Depression-era novel, the movie stars Salma Hayek and Colin Farrell.

Menzel will play Vera, who harbors an unrequited love for the Farrell character Arturo.

A rep for the actress confirmed Menzel would film this summer in South Africa, exact dates to be determined.

No sooner does Menzel finish filming “Ask the Dust” than she returns to her Broadway commitment. The actress recently reupped her “Wicked” contract through the end of 2004.

The show’s Good Witch, Kristin Chenoweth, leaves July 18. She makes her movie-musical debut next year in “Asphalt Beach” and currently is filming the new “Pink Panther” starring Kevin Kline and Steve Martin.

Since “Wicked” preemed on Broadway last October, Chenoweth has been known to skip a few perfs, especially with her double duty on “Panther.” Menzel has not missed one. Both are nominated for Tonys as leading actress in a musical for their “Wicked” work.

Other changes are in the works at “Wicked.” Norbert Leo Butz, who plays the male lead Fiyero, departs the show in July to begin rehearsals for the Old Globe production of the new musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” Butz plays the goofball Freddy, the role essayed by Steve Martin in the 1988 film version and Marlon Brando in the 1964 comedy “Bedtime Story.”

The musical opens this fall in San Diego, with a Broadway berth likely in spring 2005.