Interview: Emma Hatton, Savannah Stevenson and Jeremy Taylor talk Wicked

Emma Hatton, Savannah Stevenson and Jeremy Taylor talk Wicked

A new Elphaba is set to hit the stage from Monday 2nd February.

Award-winning musical, Wicked is in its 9th year at London’s Apollo Victoria Theatre and sees a new Elphaba set to hit the stage from Monday 2nd February.

With audiences in London hitting over six million since it opened, the musical that tells the untold story of The Wizard of Oz is as popular as ever.

DIY spoke to three of the main cast; Emma Hatton ahead of her debut as Elphaba; Savannah Stevenson (Glinda) and Jeremy Taylor (Fiyero).

What do you think it is about Wicked that means nearly ten years later people are still flocking to see the show?

Emma Hatton: I think the beauty of Wicked is that people don’t know what to expect. The Wizard of Oz is so well known and loved, that Wicked naturally attracts those who are curious to learn about what made the Wicked Witch, wicked. But it also works well as a stand alone piece and the combination of relatable characters, beautiful music, costumes and scenery means that people return again and again. Not only is it a stunning piece of musical theatre but it also encourages people to think twice before making assumptions about others.

Savannah Stevenson: It’s the complete package. It is funny yet moving, the story is familiar yet twisted. People love the characters and identify with them. Not to mention it’s a visually stunning show! And the music is incredible!

Jeremy Taylor: I think it’s got the perfect mix of drama and comedy… it’s a very balanced show in that respect. I also think the setup of having two female leads is quite unusual, and it works favourably. The music is stunning, and is written in such a way that it is appealing the first time it’s heard and on repeat visits!

What preparation did you do for your role in Wicked?

JT: I read the book - although it’s so different to the musical it didn’t really help that much! I saw the show a few times to get a feel for it, and I got some singing lessons so I knew what to do with the songs.

EH: Plenty of delving into my own life experience to tap into the many emotions that Elphaba encounters! Lots of singing lessons and vocal exercises to ensure that I am singing safely and to the best of my ability. I’ve also had to adapt my diet slightly to ensure that my voice stays in good condition, so less coffee and more water! I have always enjoyed keeping fit and the role of Elphaba certainly keeps you in good shape but I do like to try and keep up my fitness outside of the show so I run and go to the gym regularly. Earlier nights are essential too!

SS: I think I’ve learned a lot as I’ve progressed through my career. I couldn’t have played this role as a new graduate. Experience helps you to find the true emotion within each character you play and the discipline in your own life to sustain the demands of a role like this. 

The costumes are particularly stunning, which are your favourite?

EH: Without a doubt, the Wicked Witch costume. Not only is it visually stunning with over 40 yards of different material in the skirt, but it also has a significant impact on how you hold yourself as an actress when you put it on. It is empowering and the designer wanted to evoke a feeling of being ‘grounded’ and it certainly feels like this.

SS: I’m so lucky with my costumes. I genuinely love them all. My favourite has to be the bubble, but I wear a stunning outfit at the top of act 2. To me it looks very 1930’s Dior. It’s beautiful. They are all stunning though. The detail is remarkable. 

JT: In the Ozdust ballroom, there is a black and white stripey suit; one of our swings, Lee Bridgman, wears it at the moment. In a strong field, it is by far the coolest costume in the entire show, in my opinion!

What is your favourite number, and which is your favourite to perform?

SS: I love hearing ‘No Good Deed.’ Amazing song. I love to sing ‘For Good’ as the words mean such a lot. 

JT: My favourite song is probably the opening, No One Mourns The Wicked. It’s a great start to a show, musically unpredictable, and washes over the audience quite dramatically. Dancing Through Life is always fun… although I’m not the best dancer, I’ve got some good choreography to do in that number, which I always enjoy.

EH: It genuinely depends on what day it is and how I’m feeling as some days, i prefer to perform  the light hearted innocence of ‘The Wizard and I’ but the majority of the time I would say ‘No Good Deed’ is my favourite song int he show and to perform. It is such a gutsy number that requires you to dig deep physically and emotionally.It builds and builds and the lyrics are so thought provoking.

What was your first ever stage role? And if you could go back and give yourself advice before your first ever show what would it be?

EH: My first professional stage role was in a 12 piece, fringe show called ‘When Midnight Strikes’ at the Finborough Theatre and I learnt so much from the cast and  the whole process. My advice would be to give every job the commitment and effort that it deserves but to always ensure that you retain perspective and not to dwell on mistakes.You will have bad shows… you are human! But dust yourself off and put the mistake behind you. Don’t dwell on it and let it ruin your entire show.

SS: My first ever professional role was in the ensemble of Mary Poppins in the West End. It would be the same advice I give myself now… Trust yourself that you know it and watch and learn from other people. Never think you know everything.  

JT: Rolf in The Sound of Music. I would tell myself to CHILL OUT! I was nervous, naturally, but I know now that nerves are a hindrance to my stage work.

Seeing the background in fairy tale villains is a growing phenomenon, are there any you’d like to see the back story to?

JT: I think you could do a “Wicked-esque” re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, so Alice was a threat to Wonderland and the Queen of Hearts was good etc…. might ruin a few childhood memories for some of us though!

EH: Oooh maybe Ursula in The Little Mermaid?! I think there could be a great back story there.

SS: It’d be fun to know why Cinderella’s step- mother and sisters are so very Wicked, wouldn’t it?

Wicked is currently showing at the Apollo Victoria Theatre and is booking until 7th November 2015 wickedthemusical.co.uk.

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