We sat down with Amy Ross who plays Elphaba and Helen Woolf who plays Glinda in Wicked, now running at Bord Gais Energy Theatre until 1 September. EXTRA matinees have been added due to phenomenal demand.
How would you describe Wicked to someone who has never seen the show?
Amy Ross: The way I always describe it is as a prequel to The Wizard of Oz so it’s everything that happened before Dorothy arrived on the scene, but even to someone who knows nothing about the Wizard of Oz it’s a standalone and beautiful story as is. It’s centred all around relationships so there’s something everyone can relate to.
Why do you think audiences love Wicked so much?
Helen Woolf: People will come and see the show time and time again and every time you see the show you discover something new or you see something you’ve never seen before. As an example, every member on that stage including the ensemble have their own little journeys, no two people are dressed the same, there are so many people to follow and there is so much going on.
What’s your favourite thing about playing your character?
HW: My favourite thing that I do as Glinda is at the start of the show, I arrive by bubble and do this speech, which isn’t necessarily my favourite part of my character in terms of what I’m saying but it’s a lovely moment of calm before the two and a half hours of the rest of the show.
AR: I adore her (Elphaba) because she’s so passionate, her emotions are always on the surface so there is so much to play with as an actress, she goes on the most incredible emotional journey, but just the songs are epic, they’re so wonderful. My dad had never seen the show before and after he came he started listening to the soundtrack! So, we’re really lucky we get to sing those incredible songs every night.
What do you find is the biggest challenge?
AR: I guess maintaining 8 shows a week in which you don’t really leave the stage and we both have really high notes from start to finish. Emotionally it’s exhausting, you know, in a great way, you don’t want to come to work and not feel challenged. It’s incredible that we have that. I guess the hardest thing is making sure you’re healthy and well enough to maintain 8 shows a week.
HW: I think if you’re not feeling tired after an 8-show week you’re not doing your job properly, this show is just relentless, it’s nonstop, it really is.
Do you do anything in particular to look after yourselves?
HW: Lots of sleep, lots of water, going to the gym. I think having time away from the show is just as important as focusing on the show, because having a healthy mind and being able to be out and do other things and divert your attention elsewhere is really important, like going to the cinema and being able to turn off or watch Love Island maybe.
Who’s your favourite couple (From Love Island)?
HW: I can’t possibly say!
AR: I’ve never watched an episode!
What’s your favourite costume between your own or anyone else in the cast?
HW: Georgia in the Emerald City has a cigarette, a big hat and this beautiful fishtail gown, I think that’s probably my favourite costume.
AR: It’s so hard to pick because this show is like nothing I’ve ever done before in terms of the costumes, I mean they’re award winning, they’re stunning, I couldn’t pick. But for my own, I feel the most powerful and fabulous in the Wicked Witch of the West dress in Act 2.
Do you have any rituals you do just before you go on stage?
HW: I don’t, but a part of my entrance, I get flown out in the bubble and I have a few minutes of calm and still and that’s a good moment to switch off from your surroundings and focus on the job ahead. Which I really like.
AR: Yeah, neither of us are massive ritual people, because otherwise you can get a bit obsessed or superstitious, like if you haven’t done it the show is going to go wrong.
HW: I do step into my costumes the same way, now I’m thinking about it, so that’s a bit weird!
AR: One thing I definitely always do is sing a little bit of Wizard and I before I go out there just so my voice is in the right place.
You’re away from home at the moment, what are you missing the most?
HW: My cat! I think it’s my cat.
AR: Yeah! Cat. We’re both married as well and we always say cat first. We don’t really mean it of course.
HW: We’re so lucky, we’ve got loads of people here and everyone are absolute heroes, I just love everyone, it’s great, we are so lucky, we are just a lovely little family. What you lose from not being in your own home, we are lucky that we can make up for it.
Do you have any plans while you’re in Dublin?
HW: It’s my first wedding anniversary when we’re here so my husband is going to come out, I think we’re going to go out to the Wicklow mountains or something like that. I’m definitely going to go to the Guinness factory on a day off. Sample some of the delicious nectar!
AR: I’m similar, my husband is coming out, we’ve got a hire car because I have a few days off so we’re going to go exploring.
What’s your favourite show other than Wicked?
AR: I love Hairspray, I was in it, but I think I would feel that way regardless, it’s similar to Wicked in that it ticks every single box, brilliant story, brilliant music, brilliant choreography, it just ticks every box.
HW: (Thinking) That’s really rubbish I actually can’t pick one! But I have been listening to one for a while, there was a show on Broadway called Next To Normal, which is a very small cast and has absolutely wonderful music, I hope it will come here one day because I’d love to see that.
Without giving anything away, what’s your favourite line from Wicked?
HW: I’m going to say, I have been changed, we sing it. That’s nice because I think it kind of sums up the show
AR: Oh! You’ve got me there. I mean there are so many wonderful lines, so that’s why I’m struggling to think but yeah, I love For Good as well, the last song.
Last question, what do you think is the song everyone will be singing in the car home?
AR: All of them, they’re brilliant!
HW: Defying Gravity!
AR: Yeah, I think because that’s such an epic moment it sticks in people heads.
Thanks for the great interview ladies!
Don’t miss Wicked now running at Bord Gais Energy Theatre until 1 September. Book a Sunday matinee in Oz for an unforgettable day for the whole family.