Being The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz in WICKED: A Conversation With Mark Curry
When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire‘s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900.
WICKED TELLS THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF AN UNLIKELY BUT PROFOUND FRIENDSHIP
BETWEEN TWO YOUNG WOMEN:
THE BLONDE AND VERY POPULAR GLINDA… …AND A MISUNDERSTOOD GREEN GIRL NAMED ELPHABA.
Following an encounter with THE WONDERFUL WIZARD, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths… Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power…
…while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences on her future.
their extraordinary adventures in oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as GLINDA THE GOOD and the WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST.
In our interview we speak to Mark Curry, who brings the iconic Wonderful Wizard of Oz to life. In our interview, he tells us about getting his start in the industry, memorable moments and what it’s like being the Wizard…
If we go back to the beginning, was there a defining moment for you to get into the Entertainment Industry?
When I was 8 years old, I auditioned successfully for a guest spot on a national children’s tv show..
The moment I walked into that television studio, I knew I wanted to have a life in show business..
What can you tell us about WICKED and what made you say yeah I want to be part of this amazing show?
The themes in Wicked resonate on different levels with anyone who sees the show…
Friendship, acceptance, diversity, what really IS good or evil, power, vulnerability, love, animal rights..etc etc…. It’s a spectacular theatrical phenomenon featuring a brilliant musical score. I wanted to be a part of theatre history by being one of the many actors who have played, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.
Do you have any memories from making WICKED that you’ll take with you for the rest of your career?
My opening night, when I first took over the role in 2016 is one I will never forget. Trundling down centre stage on the back of that famous Oz Head, shaking with nervous excitement. Being asked to return to the show 6 years later meant a lot to me and I’ll always remember the fantastic reaction we receive from 2000 people at the end of every performance.
Also, the camaraderie and teamwork of cast and crew who make this show work will stay with me.
Can you talk about some of the challenges you had making WICKED?
The Wizard doesn’t appear for about an hour into the show, so I have to get the energy going for his first entrance. He’s only in 4 scenes but he’s an integral part of the plot and I have to make those scenes count. My song in Act 2..”Wonderful”, tells his story of how he became this adored public figure, I have to make sure that the words of the song are clear and mean something, so that we get to know who he really is and how he thinks. It’s a challenge to bring out the darker side of his personality as well as his charismatic qualities.
WICKED is iconic, and has stood the test of time, what do you think is the secret to its success and longevity?
It’s such a good, well written story and we’re all familiar with these iconic characters but it’s so intriguing to see how they evolved. Wicked looks sensational too, featuring magnificent costumes, lighting and sets. A brilliant ensemble sing superbly, play many roles and perform different dance techniques plus there’s an 18 piece orchestra playing a fantastic score…the show doesn’t date…Wicked is timeless and takes the audience on a captivating 2 and three quarter hour journey.
What does it mean for you to be a storyteller and tell stories in this way?
Inhabiting different characters is the best part of being an actor…you’re not reading a story, you ARE the story.
What is your preferred genre, and do you have any favourite films?
I love good theatre, film and television equally really. So long as I’m enthralled by the story. Films I can watch over again include, “Erin Brockovich”, “The Devil Wears Prada”,
“Some Like It Hot”, “All About Eve”, “Singing In The Rain” and the 2014 film, “Pride”, amongst others. Also anything starring Tom Hanks. “Schindlers List”, is an incredibly powerful movie which will stay with me forever.
Looking to the future, what does the future hold for WICKED? Are you excited for the eventual film release?
I think Wicked will continue for many years because people who saw it when they were young are now bringing THEIR younger relations. The film is going to be fascinating and is bound to be pretty spectacular. Jeff Goldblum is, “The Wizard”, and he came backstage to meet us all after watching our show- I can’t wait to see what he brings to the role.
With the popularity of streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ etc. we’ve seen some shows get the film treatment on the streamers, what do you think the future of Cinema is?
I really hope that people never stop actually going to the cinema because watching a good film on the big screen gives us the experience of truly losing ourselves in a story-I think it’s more fulfilling than watching something on a tv, iPad or phone.
Where can we find you online to keep up with everything you’re doing?
Check out my website or our Wicked site.
Photos courtesy of Matt Crockett
WICKED is playing at The Apollo Victoria Theatre, London, tickets are available here.