Monday, 3 October 2016

WICKED 10: Gary Wood

Firstly, tell us what part you played and what year(s) you were in the company!
I joined the second cast in 2007 as a member of the ensemble and stayed a further two years until 2010 as a crossover swing. That meant I covered all 9 of the male ensemble.

Do you remember seeing WICKED for the first time? When and where was it?

I first saw the show in London not long after it opened. It was a Wednesday matinee and the entire principle cast were on including Idina Menzel. I hadn't listened to the soundtrack before going so I really knew nothing about the show. I just remember sitting, absolutely transfixed by the whole thing. I will never forget the thrill of seeing Elphaba fly for the first time!

Did you ever think you’d be in the show one day?
I was in my third year at college when I saw the show so I'm sure myself and the other students I went with all sat hoping that we could be in it once we graduated. As a performer, when watching shows you often look for people who are like you to see if there is a part that you could play. I remember seeing a guy do a gymnastic tumble across the stage and thinking, "I could do that!"

What is your best memory from your time at WICKED?
I have so many that it is hard to choose! The most obvious for me was actually my costume fitting. As we were only the second cast there weren't years of used costumes to try us in so everything was made for us. I remember spending hours trying on each of my costumes (I had about 7 or 8) and it just being the most exciting thing in the world. Wicked was my first job so I had never experienced anything like it, those beautiful, expensive (!) and colourful costumes all with their own set of custom made boots. Just incredible.
Another favourite moments that stands out is being on stage with Alexia Khadime as she sang the roof off during her final Defying Gravity.

Tell us one embarrassing story from your time in the show… 
Thankfully I didn't really have many embarrassing moments but I do remember the lantern slipping out of my hand as I ran in to turn the bed (during the flashback scene in the opening when Elphaba is born). It fell to the floor and because of the raked stage and the force at which it slipped from my hand it started rolling toward the front of the stage. I started to run after it, attempting to grab it as I went but each time just missing as it rolled further downstage. I stopped chasing it and then stood for what felt like an age whilst trying to decide if I should continue after it or leave it. Thankfully another cast member grabbed it before it rolled off the front of the stage so I ran back to the bed and carried on. I was told that a cast member had done the same thing the year before but at that time the lantern had glass in it which had smashed all over the stage. I count myself lucky that didn't happen to me!

If you could return to WICKED and play any other character, which would it be and why?
Can I say Elphaba? I mean, it's obviously never going to happen but she gets all of my favourite songs. No Good Deed is one of my shower songs! I'm not sure my neighbours are so keen though.

Do you have a favourite part of the show?
To watch it's probably No Good Deed. I went back to the show in 2012 for a few months to cover someone who was injured and I stood in the wings almost every night watching Rachel Tucker sing that song. To me her performance was, and still is, a lesson in making vocal tricks/riffs/high notes etc emotionally led and not just for the sake of it. I'll gladly admit that every now and then I'll YouTube a performance of hers when I need some inspiration!

The WICKED movie has confirmed its release date, is there any famous names you’d like to see in it?
I would love to see real talent used over star names. Someone like Cynthia Erivo I think would be an incredible Elphaba. A brilliant, committed actress who also has the chops to sing those songs. I think there are many great women who could play Morrible: Meryl Streep, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters...

If you could describe WICKED in less than 5 words, what would they be? 
A musical for the outcast.

Follow Gary on Twitter: @gary1814

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