Interview with Touring Broadway Actress Allison Bailey
It has the bones of the classic of good vs. evil, but, at its core, Wicked is the story of an unlikely friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, long before Dorothy dropped in to the magical Land of Oz. The musical sensation opens the 2019-20 Broadway Series November 20-December 1 at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. You can purchase tickets at www.artistseriesjax.com.
EU Jacksonville caught up with Allison Bailey, who stars in her “dream role” as Glinda the Good Witch. The Pensacola native is thrilled for the homecoming of sorts and excitedly chatted up the show’s universal themes as well as sharing inspiration with a new generation of hopefuls.
Bailey knows a thing or two about making dreams come true. She moved to NYC after attending the Boston Conservatory where she majored in Musical Theatre. Like many hopefuls, she put in the work, going to auditions and casting calls during her first year in the city. She auditioned for Wicked and nabbed the role as the understudy to Glinda in the touring show, spending nearly the last four years on the road.
“I’ve toured for about three years and eight months. I left for six weeks. Then I came back to lead the tour, so I’ve been on the road for almost four years,” she says. “It’s the dream. This has always been my dream show, so honestly it’s just a blessing to be on the road.”
Growing up, Bailey was a huge fan of Wicked and counts The Wizard of Oz among her most favorite films. She first saw Wicked at 12 at the Gershwin in New York, and “right then and there I knew I wanted to come out of the bubble,” she says, referencing Glinda’s grand entrance descending to the stage in a giant bubble.
“The Wizard of Oz was probably one of my first shows when I was in third grade, so it’s really fun to be able to transition into that with Wicked,” she says of her preamble into the role of Glinda.
Wicked serves as a sort of prequel to The Wizard of Oz. Based on the 1995 book by Gregory Maguire, the show offers a look into the relationship between Glinda, who is beautiful and popular, and Elphaba, her dark and brooding roommate. The pair develop an unlikely friendship until the world decides to call one “good” and the other one “wicked.”
“We call it ‘the untold true story before Dorothy drops in’,” she says. “I love that about Wicked. I believe that it’s such a wonderful message. It has such a strong message about empowering female friendship which is just not as well-represented in our industry right now, having two female leads. And I love that it explores that friendship.”
The show turns the notion of good vs. evil on its ear with a surprisingly heartfelt examination of the importance of not judging a book by its cover. With Elphaba’s green skin and Glinda’s bubbly beauty, it would be easy for each to discount the virtue of the other simply by what they see at face value. Deeper reflection reveals a commonality that exists in Oz and beyond.
“One is actually good and is not necessarily as wicked, so I do love that it’s not judging a book by its cover and female friendships,” says Bailey, who counts ‘Popular’ as her favorite number to perform in the show. “That’s the first time you kind of see the relationship between Elphaba and Glinda come to life. I love all the universal themes that people can relate to. It’s so much fun and so much audience reaction that you can build on there. My character specifically goes through such [a] massive character arc–we see her, and she comes across as superficial at the beginning, and then she learns a couple lessons along the way.
Bailey, who recently celebrated her 28th birthday, is grateful for every path that led to that fabled yellow brick road – and the glittery, Glinda gown that she dreamt of as a young girl.
“The gown is definitely very heavy, but I have always dreamed of wearing this dress since I was 12. I think I’ve dreamed about it more than my wedding dress,” she laughs. “Truthfully, it is such an honor to be able to wear it every night. It’s such a dream. It’s an honor to be able to look out and realize that I was a little girl at 12 years old that saw the show for the first time. You see the littles ones at curtain call waving at you. Every night when I come out of the bubble, I think back to when I was watching the show for the first time, and I know somebody else is watching. That’s the magical part.”
Getting Ready for Wicked
On November 19th EU Jacksonville photographer Kim Reed joined FSCJ Artist Series for the load-in for the Broadway blockbuster Wicked in preparation for its return engagement to the Jacksonville Times – Union Center on Wednesday, November 20 – December 1, 2019. Get a technical behind-the-scenes look at how the production of Wicked goes from truck to stage: