Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Feature: Everyone Deserves The Chance To Fly!

Today Wicked celebrates ten swankified years in London's West End at the Apollo Victoria Theatre! 

The spellbinding act one finale 'Defying Gravity' has become one of the most iconic moments in musical theatre history. Have you ever wondered what goes through an Elphabas mind moments before they fly into the air..?

"Actually, so much of what went through my mind was technical, because if I didn’t do the technical side of things right then I wouldn’t fly which would be a massive anti-climax for all the people who are waiting for that big moment. Also lots of health and safety issues went through my head. 

"Then I had to think about where I was going to place the song and think about how I was feeling and maybe decide “I need to take it a bit easier on this line tonight”. Depending on the conductor, sometimes the show was a bit slower, which made it harder, or sometimes you had a fast show, or sometimes I would feel so buzzed up and sing through it with no problem – there really are so many elements which make every single night different and there is so much you have to have in place before you even open your mouth! It’s hard to believe that all that happens in just ten seconds!"

Louise Dearman

"Because it’s a very tough song you have to be completely in the zone, focus yourself and focus your voice. It actually becomes very technical but you have to give the impression that you are absolutely going for it and not thinking about all those boring, technical things. But literally the second I run backwards and get into the levitator I have to breathe out and get my air flowing properly so I’m ready to sing it."

"You just know this spectacular thing is going to happen. The whole scene before helps you to get there… the only thing I can say is that if your energy is too low you will have to fight harder. I always tried to build, build, build, build, build and then I would just go! You see that happening with every Elphaba. It’s not really a thought; it’s more of a feeling."

"I’m thinking about the song and about the character, I know it’s quite a pinnacle moment but for me you’ve just been through such a big journey and at that point she goes through a huge transformation. I try not to engage too much in the expectation of the moment because otherwise you freak yourself out and I would probably fall over or do something silly. There is also loads to think about – where to put the bag, where you put the cape and where you put the broom as well as getting into the levitator the right way! A lot of things could go wrong so you have to be on your guard!"

"It’s different… there are some days when it’s so real to me, like so incredibly real that nothing is running though my head apart from ‘I’m flying now and I’m gonna take over the world’ [laughs]! There are also days when I’m like, ‘Oh god, what are the words?’ [laughs] or ‘Oh my god I have sweat dripping into my eyeballs, will I have a second to wipe it before I get into this contraption?’ [laughs]. Every day is different! Most of the time it is very real; you have to be prepared to go with the flow, that is the beauty of musical theatre. Sometimes little things will creep in."

"It really varies. It depends on vocally how I feel, physically how I feel, how tired I am – all those things. You go through this incredible journey as Elphaba and when you reach that point in ‘Defying Gravity’ you are genuinely angry! You’re angry at The Wizard and Morrible and angry about the entire situation. There are always those nights when I’m utterly petrified. I can guarantee that every single person who has played this role will tell you that sometimes you think ‘I don’t know what’s going to come out… I hope I’ve got this tonight!’ I always give the best I can do, but you’ve got to have different shows you can deliver. Sometimes you have to go to a Plan B because you’ve got to think about your stamina – it’s an eight show week which is tough so you have to think about your vocal safety.

"There are nights when I get up in the air and feel like an utter rock star – I feel like I’m in a good place vocally and think ‘I’m going to go for it tonight! I’m going to try *this* or let rip on *that* note’. Then there are nights when you think, ‘I’ve going to act *that* bit because vocally I know I’m not on my A game so have to think really technically about what I’m going to do’. You feel the adrenaline of the moment – you feel that rush and that thrill. It’s such a privilege to sing that song! It’s so iconic! As I move forward and rise in 'Defying Gravity', I can literally feel the electricity in the auditorium. I can feel the hairs on the back of people’s necks going up. That’s not about me, it’s the whole spectacle – the rousing music, the lighting, the story, the makeup and the fact that there’s a green person flying [laughs]. Some people come and see the show and have no idea what to expect – they don’t know Elphaba is going to fly! It’s incredible!"

Andrew Tomlins (Editor)

Photo Credit 1-4&6: Matt Crockett
Photo Credit 5: Joan Marcus

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