Right now must be a pretty great time to be Louise Dearman. Having left the role of Glinda in Wicked last December, in the past few months she’s juggled the release of a popular album, her alter-ego as Cara for Confused.com and some fantastic concert performances up and down the country.
On August 3rd, it was announced that she would return to Wicked from October 29th but this time in the role of Elphaba, making her the first actress in the world to have played both of the musical’s lead roles. I caught up with the vocal powerhouse of an actress to find out how she feels about swapping the bubble for the broomstick…
DT : This is probably one of the hottest questions in The West End at the moment – how long have you been sitting on the news that you had been cast as Elphaba?
LD: Well, thank goodness I only had to keep the news quiet for a couple of weeks, any longer than that and I may have burst! To be honest, it all happened so quickly from the first meeting to being offered the role so there was no time to over-analyse anything, get my hopes up or start painting myself green at home in desperation!
DT : How does it feel to be the first actress to have been cast in both the roles of Glinda AND Elphaba?
LD: I can’t get my head around it just yet. It’s truly overwhelming. Throughout my career, there have been so many times when casting directors or producers have said they don’t feel I’m right for a role and not called me for an audition and so I have to take my hat off to the creative team of Wicked who thought outside the box and even considered that an actress who had played Glinda could go back and play Elphaba. I have huge respect for them all and I feel honoured to have been given this opportunity. Actors get pigeon-holed far too easily – I love my job because I get to embody so many different characters and it really can’t get any better than playing both witches in Wicked!
DT : Does it worry you that one of Glinda’s lines may slip out on stage?
LD: Haha! I thought it might be weird but, actually, during the auditions it didn’t feel weird at all. Also, by the time I go back into the show, it will have almost been a year since I left. A very strange thing happens when I leave a show, it’s like all the lyrics and lines are erased by aliens within a few weeks!
DT : Is Elphaba a role that has always appealed to you?
LD: Absolutely. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ever thought about it. Anyone who knows me or has been to my concerts or heard my album will know that naturally my voice sits well with big songs, you know, the ones that rip your heart out!! I’m so looking forward to telling the story of Wicked through Elphaba’s eyes and of course being green!
DT : What have you missed most about Wicked in your absence?
LD: I can honestly say that being in Wicked was without doubt the highlight of my career to date. The show, in my opinion, is the best around right now – the story of Wicked is so beautiful and eye-opening and relates to everyone in some way, particularly young people going through the strains of growing up. The stunning music, costumes, lighting, everything makes it a phenomenal piece of musical theatre. I made some amazing friends during my time at Wicked, in particular, Rachel Tucker who is such a beautiful person off-stage and on and a joy to work and play with! I also have a great relationship with all the creative team backstage and all these things make going back to the show even more exciting.
DT : Your partnership with Rachel Tucker attracted an enormous fanbase. How do you deal with the pressure that this brings? Do you ever worry about letting fans down?
LD: I have never experienced support from fans the way I have since being in Wicked. They all go above and beyond to show their support. I think I put enough pressure on myself to worry too much about feeling it off of other people. I’m a perfectionist which can sometimes be my downfall – I’m not Superwoman and have to remember that! The important thing is to focus on the ‘job’ at hand, giving the best performance I can night after night and that’s all I can do. I have big shoes to fill when Rachel leaves but I’m looking forward to making the role my own and hopefully people will enjoy my interpretation.
DT : Many actresses describe Elphaba as their dream role but what would be your personal dream role to play?
LD: This is such a cliché, but I am literally ‘living the dream’. I’m pretty certain that every actress in musical theatre would say that their dream role would either be Elphaba or Glinda and I’m going to have played both! I can’t think of anything that can top that, I am an incredibly lucky girl!
DT : Your album Here Comes the Sun features some great tracks. How did that come about?
LD: I’m so proud of Here Comes The Sun. Last year, my management and I decided it was the perfect time to record a new album, but unlike my first album, You and I, which consisted of musical theatre songs, I really wanted to show another side of my voice that people may not have heard before. My music tastes are pretty varied and the album had to show that. It’s full of some of my favourite contemporary songs from artists I have listened to for years. It’s exactly how I had imagined it and I’m delighted with the end result.
DT : Finally, for anyone that hasn’t seen Wicked, why should they get themselves down to the show?
LD: If you want to see a musical that visually looks incredible, that makes you laugh and cry, one that you walk away from singing the songs and feel speechless at the end, then go and see Wicked. It’s such a spectacle and I’ve never heard anyone say they weren’t thrilled by it. Children are entranced by Wicked and adults cant help but appreciate the sheer scale on every level. It’s wonderful.
Wicked is performed at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, London and tickets can be bought here.
Image © Mothership Management