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Hanging Out With the Cast of Wicked – Glinda, Elphaba, and Oz the Great and Powerful

From the minute the lights dim and the curtain rises, theater-goers are instantly transported to the land of Oz.

Now that I have experienced Wicked myself, there is no question in my mind as to “why” this highly acclaimed musical is nominated year after year for awards. It is actually the number one musical, worldwide. If  you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend investing the time and money. You won’t be disappointed. The entire musical is engaging and playful, leaving the audience mesmerized. When it’s over, you’ll wish it wasn’t.

Unless of course you have plans to do a backstage tour and hang with the cast after the show. Yaaaaay me!

Once the makeup is washed off and Elphaba is no longer green -minus the stubborn traces around her hairline that “never seem to wash off”- Glinda is no longer blonde (yup, that’s a wig) and their Tony Award winning costumes are stowed neatly away, the cast is free to escape from Oz and just be themselves.

Hanging with the cast was an amazing and inspiring experience. Here’s what I learned:

You don’t always have to know your next step to be excited about it.

Jeanna de Waal currently plays the role of “Glinda the Good Witch.” A role she masters effortlessly. Though she is originally from the UK her American accent is on point! While chatting with her, she mentioned that March will be her last month playing the role of “Glinda.” When I asked her what her next role will be her response was “I don’t know but I am really excited about it!” She has not solidified her plans, however she has a positive outlook and is confident that she will land a great opportunity. Talking to her was a reminder that we don’t need to know exactly where life is taking us to feel secure in knowing that whatever is in store will be great!

You won’t always be the star, embrace all phases of life.

Another thing that struck me about Jeanna de Waal was her humility. She talked about the fact that once her role as “Glinda” is over, she will be heading back to New York (which she now considers home) and auditioning during the day while working another job at night. She will go from being the star of a spectacular Broadway hit, to serving patrons who will likely have no idea that she was, not too long ago, “travelling by bubble” in the great land of Oz! This has little to no affect on her self-esteem and she is actually pretty excited about going back to New York and embracing the next phase of her life.

Follow your dreams and dream big.

The ensemble of Wicked is comprised of talented dancers and singers, who give the audience their all while performing. I chatted with a few members of the ensemble- the opportunity to be a part of the “Wicked” cast is a dream come true for many. Hayley Dorling is one of the newest members, who started touring with the cast in January 2013. Before appearing in the play, Hayley was living in L.A. and dancing professionally. She had the dream and desire to be able to both sing and dance in a Broadway play. However, her agents were unable to find her the right role. Randomly, a friend mentioned to her there was an open call for “Wicked.” She auditioned in June and for several months heard nothing. Though she didn’t hear back she kept hope alive and 6 months later received a call that granted her wish! Hayley is beyond thrilled to be a part of the cast and encourages others to dream big!

Harness your talent and keep growing.

Justin Wirick and Ryan Jackson are members of the ensemble who have been touring with “Wicked” for several years. While talking with these gentlemen it became evident that their success was not by chance nor a random assignment. These two men harnessed their talent from a young age and grasped at every opportunity to grow in their craft; even when the opportunities were less than glamorous. When chatting with him about my personal endeavors Justin’s advice was “follow your heart and give it your all.” So, you may not be able to gracefully do a pirouette while singing in soprano but we each have talents, don’t let them go un-used!

Family isn’t just about blood/genes.

The cast of “Wicked” truly are a family, not just co-workers. This is obvious by their honesty, comfort level and the atmosphere when they are together. It isn’t hard to understand why because after all, they travel together for months on end. Glinda and Elphaba, before the finale, sing together “For good.” A song which evoked intense emotion within me. The song speaks of the fact that all people come into our life for a reason and Jeanna de Waal (Glinda) and Christine Dwyer (Elphaba) nail it! While singing “because I knew you, I have been changed for good” the two look into each other’s eyes and you know it’s real. There is no acting, the two really are like sisters.

What happens behind the scenes is equally important to what’s on stage.

The backstage tour is eye opening!  I was able to see how the props and machines work and learned little details and secrets of the play. The amount of work that goes into making the magic happen on stage is unreal. No expense is spared to make the show as breath-taking as it is. The stage hands are skilled professionals whose role is equally important to that of those on stage. This reminded me that being center stage, though it comes with its glitz, is not of more esteem than working behind the scenes.

Can’t get enough of OZ? Read our Editor’s UN-popular review of the musical Wicked- HERE. 

 

– Suzanna Earle, Spicy Theater Conneseur from Jamaica, ‘mon.