Getting to Know WICKED’S Dynamic Duo: The Wizard & Madame Morrible
There are only a few more days left to catch WICKED here in San Francisco. We had a chance to catch up with the show’s dynamic duo—Stuart Zagnit as the Wizard and Wendy Worthington as Madame Morrible. Inspired by titles of our favorite Broadway showtunes, we asked Stuart and Wendy a handful of questions–check out their answers below!
“Ten Minutes Ago”: What are your pre-curtain rituals?
SZ: In my case, it’s more like “An Hour and Ten Minutes Ago.” Even with the extra time I have before my first entrance, there are things I need to do to get ready. I do like to get to the theater early. Why? For several reasons: In order to enter the Emerald City, I really need to put away my non-Ozian life. It is so easy to get distracted, and bringing the stresses of day-to-day life can really get in the way. So, when I enter the theater, it becomes a kind of “neutral zone” where I can de-stress, relax and even meditate. I like to warm-up my voice, stretch and take my time putting on my costume (this show really requires no make-up). I also tend to get quiet before I go on. Some performers really crank it up, sing, dance and get revved in a very high-energy way. I like to go in the opposite direction; be the calm before the storm, and save all of my energy for the stage. That’s what works for me.
WW: I need to start becoming Madame Morrible about an hour and fifteen minutes before curtain (between getting into the corset, getting ready for my wig, and putting on my makeup—which includes adding an extra set of eyebrows—I have a lot to do), and I don’t like to rush, so I usually leave for the theatre about two hours before the show. Then, once I am ready, I like to pace around backstage, say “hi” to the cast and crew, and listen to the audience getting settled into their seats.
“If I Were A Rich Man”: If you just won a TONY, what would your speech be like? Who would you thank?
SZ: I’ve been very lucky to have great teachers, in elementary and high school, and many college professors who believed in me and encouraged me. Truly every performance is dedicated to my parents, as well as my wife who stuck by me when things were going great and when they weren’t so great. And my son, because he’s my son! And lastly, at the risk of sounding immodest, I have to thank myself. Believing in yourself is sometimes all you have, and never giving up is how you achieve your dreams! So here’s to me!
WW: My agents have been incredibly supportive all throughout my career, and they have always been happy for my successes, not just for the projects that made them a lot of money but also for the things I have been able to do that were interesting challenges and fun roles.
“The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened”: Tell us about the craziest/best/most memorable fan encounter.
WW: We have some of the best fans, including some who have come to see the show many, many times. But my favorite may have been the ten-year-old girl in Louisville who decided that this show’s message is that “if you are really good at something, some people might get jealous of you and say you are a bad person, but that you have to do what you do anyway.” I think that is an amazingly insightful analysis!
SZ: I did NEWSIES on Broadway, and the “Fansies” were amazing! One day I came to the Stage Door, and our doorman said there was something for me. Two “Fansies” knew I also was the voice of Professor Oak on “Pokemon,” and they had left me a lovely note and a stuffed Pikachu doll with a Newsies cap on it! One night as I finished singing “Betrayed” in THE PRODUCERS, someone in the audience shouted “Bravo!”—I was thrilled!
“Agony”: Tell us about your most embarrassing moment on stage.
SZ: One of my first jobs out of college was a summer stock theater in Vermont. We did five shows back-to-back with only a little over a week of rehearsals. The final show as a comedy/drama, and near the end of Act One I forgot my line—time stopped, and I began to ad lib lines like a crazy man, and almost went from the first act to the second act. After the longest minute of my life, I finally remembered the line & we finished Act One. As I sat backstage, still shaking from what happened, the director came up to me and said quietly, “Tomorrow night, before you go on, look over your script.” I’ve never forgotten that!
WW: I don’t think the audience noticed, but most of the people on stage with me spotted the day that I walked out in the first scene carrying the Grimmerie instead of the clipboard. They are right next to each other on the prop shelf, and for some reason I picked up the wrong thing. I spent the whole scene trying to decide if it would confuse anybody to see me holding “the ancient book of thaumaturgy and enchantments” long before I handed it to Elphaba in Oz.
“Now You Know”: What would you, today, tell your younger self when you first started in show business?
WW: Dreams really do come true, but rarely in the way you expect them to!
SZ: You can never be too prepared; for an audition, a role, a performance. Always think of a performance as if it’s the first time you are doing it, and remember there are always people in the audience who have never seen the show before. Tell them the story. And, always be grateful. There are lots of folks who never get to walk through a stage door, go out onstage and entertain people. You’re one of the lucky ones. Never take that for granted…
Don’t miss Stuart and Wendy in WICKED—here at the SHN Orpheum Theatre until April 16. Get your tickets today at shnsf.com!