Rachel Quilligan sat down with Oz’s favourite witch to chat about the magic of Wicked.
Suzie Mathers certainly looks the part of Glinda the Good Witch, one of the leads in the hugely popular Broadway musical Wicked. With tumbling blonde curls and a brilliant smile, it’s easy to picture her floating over the stage in the iconic bubble dress.
After taking over the role for the 2011 international tour through Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand and Manila, Mathers is excited to perform for audiences back home as part of the show’s 10th anniversary tour.
“I’ve done the show close to 450 times as Glinda so I feel like I’m just getting back on the bike,” she says. “As an actor you bring your life experiences in so it will be really nice to see where she’ll be sitting when I start rehearsals again.”
Mathers says audience reaction in the Philippines was the most memorable, with Jemma Rix (who plays the green-skinned Elphaba) after performances. “I’ve never experienced stage door like we had in Manila,” she says. “Jemma and I had to be escorted — I felt like I was Angelina Jolie for twenty minutes! It was amazing the amount of love we had from the fans over there.”
She adds that performing for Wicked composer Steven Schwartz was an amazing but nerve-wracking experience. “I don’t think I’ve ever shaken so much in my life; the bubble dress was vibrating underneath me,” she says with a laugh. “He raved about the company which was so wonderful.”
Wicked took Australian audiences by storm when it first blew Down Under in 2008. The Broadway hit tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy dropped in, following the lives of rivals-turned-friends Glinda, a pretty and popular witch, and passionate outsider Elphaba.
“I love that this is such a female-strong show,” says Mathers. “Roles like Elphaba and Glinda require great vocal physical stamina … to have somebody like Jemma, who is one of my closest friends, standing beside me and carrying the load of the show with me — two women leading this big blockbuster Broadway musical — it’s a really wonderful feeling.”
Mathers adds that while it’s fun to play the charming and self-absorbed Glinda, it’s the character’s growth that is most interesting to explore.
“At the beginning she’s bubbly, popular and charismatic, entitled and self-involved — she’s your American ‘Mean Girl’,” says Mathers. “So you get to play that side of her, but then she also falls in love, gets her heart broken, gets engaged, is betrayed; she learns that not everything is rosy and not everything is going to go her way.
“That as an actress is so wonderful to play, being able to go through that with her. You kind of grow up with the show.”
See Suzie Mathers in Wicked from February 12 at QPAC. For more information and to book, head to our event guide listing,