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, (Catherine Hay and Rebekah Head) 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 Catherine Hay, who plays the gorgeously green Elphaba:
You've recently returned from New York theatre school Stella Adler, what was the biggest takeaway from there for you?
So many things! I think overall it was about confidence and solidifying skills. One thing I really enjoyed exploring was based around physicality, getting in tune with my body and exploring how movement changes everything. Both there and here in New Zealand, I have learned a lot through osmosis over the years, being around such great talent and learning from others by watching them.
The soundtrack of Wicked has some amazing songs in it. Which is your favourite of Elphaba's songs and why?
It would have to be No Good Deed. When I was younger, listening to the soundtrack I didn't fully understand all the nuance in the musical. I think this song really brings that out, it's about the moral dilemma - what makes something good - the intention or the outcome. The lyrics in this song are a masterclass in philosophy.
What do you think the central issue or message of the show's storyline is?
That empathy is important. It is a strength, not a weakness. For people to just take a moment to consider the different experiences someone might be going through and to not just categorise people as being good or bad. It's about looking past appearances and your initial judgments and looking at who the whole person is, not one action or moment.
Rebekah Head plays G(a)linda, the Good Witch of Wizard of Oz fame.
What's the hardest part to learn in this show for you - the choreography, the songs or the flying?
Honestly, I think the hardest part of the show is none of those! The hardest part is trying to honour the storyline and the actors who have played the role, while also making the role my own. It's a musical I have loved for so long, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself in the role.
There are so many great songs in this show - what's your favourite song to perform and why?
The reprise of I'm not that girl. It's in the second act and it marks such a poignant shift in the show. It's one of the times the audience is really encouraged to see the vulnerability of Glinda.
Wicked the Musical is undoubtedly a popular show worldwide. Why do you think audiences love this show so much?
So many reasons! I think everyone knows, and loves, The Wizard of Oz already, so there is a familiarity there and it is exciting to explore the backstory of some of those characters. Then there is the soundtrack which is packed with such great music - the soundtrack is something people really enjoy so seeing that live on stage is exciting. The show is packed with such a great combination of an interesting storyline, great characters, a really strong soundtrack, you can't help but enjoy the show.