Wickedly tempting: an interview with Glinda the Good
Having broken box office records around the world and received countless awards, it’s no wonder Wicked is still going strong in the West End. A year after the shiny new cast joined in 2010, they’re eager to get young people involved in writing by bringing back the Wicked Young Writers Award for a second year.
Louise Dearman, who plays Glinda, speaks about why it’s vital we encourage young people to try their hand at writing, and shares why she’s loved being the star of the musical that was last year awarded an Olivier Audience Award for the Most Popular Show.
Wicked was this year named Best West End Show by Whatsonstage.com for the second time in a row. What do you think is its appeal?
It was all inspired by the novel by Gregory Maguire. Of course everybody knows about The Wizard of Oz, but the special thing about Wicked, I think, is that it’s all about what happened before, during and after. It’s a completely new take on the characters of Glinda and the Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West. I think the music, the story, the set design, everything comes together to make a phenomenal piece of theatre. It is absolutely mind-blowing.
Young people also really relate to the story: whether it’s Glinda, the most popular girl at school who eventually learns to not to judge a book by its cover; or Elphaba, the outcast who is different to everybody else. It teaches young people that it’s OK to be different. Rachel Tucker (who plays Elphaba) and I receive so many letters from young people going through difficult times and it’s lovely to be able to reply to them.
How much rehearsal time did you have for Wicked?
We had a month’s rehearsal, which seems like a long time but for such an enormous show, it’s quite pacey, there’s an awful lot to absorb and a lot to take in. But we got there, obviously!
How much longer will you be appearing in the show?
I’m contracted until December 10th this year so we’ll see whether that continues or not. I joined the cast of Wicked last year at the end of March, so we’ve just done our first year in the show.
Would you like it to continue, then?
Never say never!
Apparently there are stories of ghosts in the theatre, such as a man in a top hat, could you tell me a bit about that?
There’s been an awful lot of viewings and strange things, especially with this man in the top hat. Somebody played a trick where they took a picture and superimposed the man in the background, and I believed it, fell for it hook, line and sinker! But then found out it was rubbish…
Has an audience member ever done anything to really put you off?
Every now and then you’ll get people on their own laughing out loud and you think “Ooh, ok!”. Sometimes the phone rings, that’s an annoying one, which is why people should listen at the beginning when they ask for mobile phones to be switched off.
What’s been the biggest slip up you’ve had on stage?
Nothing absolutely terrible has happened, apart from forgetting lyrics in songs which has happened to me a couple of times and that’s awful. You’re stood there in front of thousands of people and you go completely blank, but both times I’ve managed to make it up and managed to make it rhyme!
When working in theatre, when do you get time for a social life?
Honestly, not much time for a social life. It’s pretty much on a Sunday or on holiday, simply because, as boring as it sounds, late nights and partying don’t do much for your voice and even though we have all day off and we just go into the theatre about 6 o’clock in the evening, you really have to look after yourself when you’re singing so much.
How often do the standbys get to perform and what do they do when they’re not?
Our wonderful standbys. People think is an incredible job, but I think is a really tough job. They are in the theatre every single day and they warm up with us. If one of us gets injured or loses our voice, they have to just be thrown on. Although they might get to sit and watch TV, they have to be absolutely ready to go if something happens. They don’t have to come on often during a show, most of the time it’s if one of us is on holiday or is ill. With a show like Wicked, if you can’t hit the notes you simply can’t go on.
What’s your favourite part or song in the show?
Difficult as it changes all the time. I love ‘Popular’ just because it’s such good fun, but also I love ‘For Good’ at the end, with Rachel, because it ties everything up and lots of people say they feel particularly emotional when it comes to that song.
Could you tell me about the Wicked Young Writers Award?
We launched it last year and it had three aims, to encourage creativity, to recognise excellence in writing and to get young people involved by putting things down on paper. We’re championed by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall and best-selling children’s author Michael Morpurgo as well. Last year lots of the Wicked cast got involved and we read a lot of the pieces from the finalists in the theatre. We then had a presentation ceremony which was fantastic – the work these young people came up with was incredible, so we absolutely had to do it again this year.
What are they looking out for?
Anything goes – any theme, any subject. Short stories, poetry, any form of writing. The age range is from 5-25 so you can imagine the types of things we get through, it’s fantastic.
Apart from Wicked, what’s your favourite musical and song?
Oh my gosh, um, a show that I did and adored was Guys and Dolls, and I love performing as Sarah Brown.
What would be your dream part to play?
I’ve been very lucky actually, and ticked most of my boxes. I’d love to do another fun, quirky role, maybe something like Legally Blonde or Roxy in Chicago. I’ve loved that since back in the day when I went to see it with Ruthie Henshall.
What’s the most wicked thing you’ve ever done?
I’ve been asked this question before, and I was desperately trying to think of something wicked or even remotely bad that I’ve done but I can’t think of anything! I like to think there’s a bit of Glenda the Good in me.
To enter the Wicked Young Writers Award, visit here
Tagged in: apollo theatre, broadway, louise dearman, musical, rachel tucker, theatre, west end, wicked
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