Worldwide smash musical Wicked is set to open at Austin's Bass Concert Hall on January 25, and its Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Don Amendolia, took the time to answer a few questions about the production and his role for BroadwayWorld.
You have been with the tour as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz for two years. How has life on the road been treating you?
Life on the road has been terrific. It's been great fun to see other cities, their museums, restaurants and of course happy audiences all across North America. A rare treat.
Do you feel that your interpretation or insight into the Wizard’s character has changed with your time in the role? How so?
While any actor hopes his insight into a character deepens with time while playing a role, I did my homework early on and I think my interpretation of the Wizard hasn't changed too much. At least I hope not. There's a big difference between embellishment and refinement. I hope I've refined him more.
Some of Wicked’s actors have stated they chose to develop their interpretation of their characters based solely upon the musical’s portrayals, as opposed to reading Gregory Maguire’s novels and drawing additional inspiration there. Have you read the Wicked novels, and if so, did you draw inspiration from them, or perhaps the Wizard of Oz film?
I had read Gregory Maguire's amazing novel when it was first published, before it became a musical, so by the time I read the show script I was aware of how much my character differed from medium to medium. Over all, I tend to remember who the Wizard was from the movie; more of a snake-oil salesman, carnival shaman who's trying to hold on to his accidental world. He's not a bad man, he's just not a very good Wizard.
How has your experience in Wicked compared to other stage productions?
Honestly, there is no comparison to other shows. Wicked is now a worldwide phenomenon that has touched millions in ways I can only guess at. It's been a singular experience in every way.
The Wizard, as portrayed in Wicked, is somewhat blinded by power, though a sentimental man who unknowingly wrongs one of his own. If the Wizard knew of this relation from the beginning, how do you think it would have impacted the outcome of Oz’s history?
Power is more seductive than anything else to the Wizard and at its core, absolute power corrupts absolutely. He may be a sentimental man but by the time Elphaba comes to Oz I think the Wizard is hip-deep in the panic that he may lose it all. He may regret it and hindsight is 20-20 but by then it's too late. He is finally powerless to change anything.
After breaking box office records and selling out in record time in 2009, WICKED, Broadway’s biggest blockbuster, will return to Austin at Texas Performing Arts Bass Concert Hall, playing January 25-February 12, 2012. Tickets are available at the Bass Concert Hall box office, all Texas Box Office Outlets, by phone at (512) 477-6060 or online at BroadwayAcrossAmerica.com/Austin.
With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin, Academy Award-winner for Pocahontas and The Prince of Egypt) and book by Winnie Holzman (“My So Called Life,” “Once And Again” and “thirtysomething”), WICKED, the untold story of the witches of Oz, is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Take Me Out, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Vagina Monologues) and features musical staging by Tony® Award winner Wayne Cilento (Aida, The Who’s Tommy, How To Succeed…).