The witches of Wicked have flown into Taranaki and are set to turn the town green in the New Plymouth Operatic Society season of Wicked the Musical. Stratford Press editor Ilona Hanne caught up with the actresses playing the parts of Elphaba and Glinda to ask them a few questions about their characters, themselves, and just what it is like to play these iconic roles.
First to answer questions this week is Rebekah Head who plays G(a)linda - The Good Witch of Wizard of Oz fame, in a role she has played twice before - taking to the stage in the role made famous on Broadway by Kristin Chenoweth.
You've played this role twice before - what do you like about the role, and how have you developed it each time?
I actually feel like I've played this role more than twice before, partly because we were meant to do it here in New Plymouth last year of course, but also because it's a role I have wanted to play since I was about 13 or so and Kristin Chenoweth was cast as Glinda. It's a role I love because it has so many levels to the character. When it comes to developing the role, I think every time is different because there is a new Elphaba to play off, and that brings a different energy, a different connection to the stage.
The relationship with Elphaba is central to the storyline - why do you think the two women clash so much at the start?
I think Glinda is used to getting everything she wants in life and then suddenly this other person, Elphaba, turns up and she doesn't anymore, so there is jealousy there and a feeling of competitiveness, and for Elphaba, Glinda represents everything she has wanted in her life too.
Describe Glinda in three words.
Good-hearted, driven, and Ignorant.
Glinda is known as The Good Witch - in your opinion what makes a truly good witch?
I feel in relation to this musical that's really a trick question, because there is no real good or real bad, that's the message at the end of it really. I think the audience are taken on a journey during the musical and they learn empathy of each of the characters and the decisions they make. It makes you think - if you make a bad decision does that mean you aren't good?
Catherine Hay plays Elphaba - the Wicked Witch of the West, a role award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Idina Menzel is famous for.
The part of Elphaba has been famously played by some pretty impressive names, such as Idina Menzel - what's it like taking on such a role?
It's certainly a big responsibility! I am the same as Rebekah in that this is a musical I have loved for so long and I was probably about the same age, around 13 when I started thinking it was a role I would love. In fact a Facebook post popped up the other day in my Facebook memories feed, and it was me saying everyone should listen to this soundtrack - Wicked. The role certainly comes with the most intense vocal preparation possible. Idina Menzel has a very specific tone and style and I want to pay homage to that but also make it my own which is a challenge I am enjoying.
Elphaba's relationship with her sister, Nessarose, is an important part of the storyline - what do you think of that relationship?
It's a very difficult relationship, I've had a lot of conversations with Carolyn (director Carolyn Murphy) about this already. I think she feels responsibility for her sister, there's a maternal quality to the relationship along with guilt. Nessarose has a very different life to her and she doesn't see, or want to see, what Elphaba is going through.
Describe your character in three words.
Fiercely emphatic (can I use two words there? Because they need to be both there), underestimated and passionate.
What do you admire or like most about Elphaba?
I admire her strength and her ability to be the way she has to be. She stands up for what, in her mind, is right - in fact, for her, standing up for what she sees as right isn't a question, it's a fact. Her moral compass is very strong and she is led by it.
Next week the witches face more questions ranging from what it's like being green and flying on stage too if the musical is a feminist tale.
WIN: Be in to win a double pass to see Wicked the Musical at the TSB Showplace on Wednesday, June 23. To be in to win, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact phone number and put Wicked in the subject line, then answer the following question: What three words does Rebekah use to describe Glinda? Competition closes at noon, Wednesday, June 9 and the winner will be contacted that day.