by kellie abrahamson
Broadway’s smash musical Wicked is finally on its way to the First Coast. After months of waiting patiently, fans of the show will at long last see their favorite characters take to the Times-Union Center stage on April 23rd. To help bide the time, EU spoke with Marcie Dodd, the actress who plays leading lady Elphaba “Wicked Witch of the West” Thropp, in the show. Here’s what she had to say about the performance, her green alter ego and what it’s like to defy gravity.
EU: Tell our readers about the general plot of Wicked.
Marcie Dodd: The best way I’ve heard it explained is, you know The Wizard of Oz movie, if you have that camera angle when you’re looking at the movie and you shift to your right, there’s a whole [different] story happening within that story. It’s not considered a prequel by any means, it’s happening within that story. So it’s the actual story of the Wicked Witch of the West, the green witch, and Glinda the good witch… and what made them “wicked” or “good” and what happens along the way and the building of their friendship and how it started.
EU: Who do you think Elphaba is at her core?
MD: At her core she’s a good person who has lots of passionate values: passion for animals and passion for people and passion for life. But she’s green obviously, so she has this thing about her that makes her different and makes people make fun of her or laugh at her or stare at her oddly so it kind of builds this defense mechanism in her which sometimes comes across as angry or comes across as sarcastic. She has this sense of humor that she just covers things up with but at her core she really is a good person. Some of the fans have come up to me after the show and they said “Oh my goodness, you’re not really wicked, you’re just misunderstood!” [Laughs]
EU: Elphaba’s a very complex character.
MD: Very. It’s really exciting as a woman to be able to have a character like this to play. You don’t get many opportunities as a woman in this business to play such a complex character so it’s pretty exciting.
EU: Wicked has a pretty rabid fan base. Is it intimidating to come into such an established and beloved role?
MD: It’s a little intimidating in the beginning but this company has been really great about me kind of being able to make the role my own, [adding] something a little different. The core of the character is the same but each person brings their selves to it, and something new. From what I’ve been told I’m a little different [laughs]… I was fortunate enough to be able to work with [director] Joe Mantello during this [touring production’s] rehearsal process. He came in a couple of times and so you got to hear his vision of what he wanted the role to be and then he gave you your freedom to make the role your own…. They’re not trying to just carbon copy Idina [Menzel, Broadway’s original Elphaba], they’re trying to recreate the character with your truth behind it. So that was exciting. It’s intimidating because there are a lot of fans who are really connected to the original company but most of them are pretty willing to open up and see something new… They’ve been very welcoming to me. [Laughs]
EU: So switching gears a little bit, you’re green in this show.
MD: [Laughs] I’m very green, yes, and it kind of follows you around your whole life. You have a little bit of green in your hair-line, you have green pores here and there and green fingernails, so, yeah. [Laughs]On off days you have this green hue to you, people are always asking if you’re feeling ok!
EU: What is that make-up process like?
MD: You get in the chair about a half hour before the show starts; you have to be all prepped and warmed up and ready to go. We have an amazing artist that’s traveling with us, Joyce [McGilberry]. She starts with the base of the green makeup on your face and your hands and part of your chest and then they do a natural makeup on top of that which is actually pretty incredible. You just have this natural look on top with the mascara and the eye shadow and the lipstick but everything is kind of [matched to a] green hue [rather] than a peach one. [Laughs] So you have your purples and your blacks and your stuff like that. It’s really quite calming for me. I know for some girls it’s uncomfortable; I don’t know anyone who has loved being green in their daily life [laughs], but being green in the show is actually pretty calming for me. Just sitting there and having people play with your face and hair, it’s great.
EU: And you get to fly in Wicked.
MD: Yeah! I get to fly, that’s pretty cool. [Laughs]
EU: That’s REALLY cool. What’s that like?
MD: It’s exhilarating. Each night you still feel that rush as you’re lifted into the air. You have the smoke and the lights and the music and the sound and the orchestra swells underneath you… Some people ask me “Does that get old? Do you just get used to it?” and I say “No, not really.” Each night it still moves me.
EU: What’s your favorite moment in Wicked?
MD: Oh no! If I had to pick one? Oh, goodness, when you get to fly, that’s just pretty exciting. Actually, people laugh at me though because I really like ‘Popular.’ When Glinda kind of takes [Elphaba] under her wing and has this moment of “I’m gonna make you over and I’m gonna be your friend and I’m gonna invest in you,” I think its fun for me. I don’t do anything really except sit there and watch her [laughs] and it’s actually one of my favorite moments because I get to see the Glindas create this whole little moment. I know nobody believes me but it’s true.
EU: What do you hope people come away with after seeing the show?
MD: That it’s ok to be different. I think everyone can relate to that, I definitely could… Everybody had that moment in their lives when they feel a little out of place, something about them doesn’t quite fit in. There are so many moments in the show where every character has this kind of flaw to them, there’s something not quite right that everybody has, especially Elphaba because she’s green. It’s ok to be different, we can accept people with their differences that they have and they’re not all flaws. I love that message because it’s something I really related to… Everybody has those junior high years that you just hated, right? [laughs] In junior high where you’re just like “I can’t stand this, I feel so out of place!” [Laughs]
by kellie abrahamson