Today’s exclusive interview, and the first of the new blog address is from a 1st National Tour alumni – Ms. Meggie Cansler. Ms. Cansler holds a special place for me as the first understudy I ever saw in “Wicked” and also as an absolutely fantastic Glinda. She was with the show from February 2008 until February 2009; I saw her as Glinda in October 2008. For that reason, this interview was very exciting for me and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks, Meggie!
I played Ruby in “Dames at Sea” at the American Heartland Theater in Kansas City. I was 17 years old. My voice teacher had worked there before and passed my name along to the producer, Paul Huff, and I was asked to come in and audition. I was so thrilled to have my first professional gig!
What are some favorite jobs you’ve had other than “Wicked”?
I LOVED Wicked I have also been very fortunate to be apart of two other wonderful Broadway shows, “The Apple Tree” and “Finian’s Rainbow”. But, this summer I played Penny in “Hairspray” at the Muny and had the time of my life!
How did you come to audition for “Wicked” and what was the audition process like?
I initially auditioned for the their Universal Vacation swing. So, I sang two songs: Wizard and I and a soprano song that I can’t recall now. Then I went through the dance/partering process and got the call about an hour after I left. I was on cloud nine knowing that I was about to perform in every US company of my very favorite musical.
How long and how difficult was the initial rehearsal process for the show?
For the Universal swing, it was alot. I had to rehearse, initially, for 3 weeks, for the Broadway company. And then when I went to other companies, they would teach me the track the day I arrived, I would watch the show that night to alert myself of any differences in on-stage traffic, and then a quick review the next day and I would be on that night! Crazy, right ?? When I joined the tour, I had already done that ensemble track, so really it was just teaching me the Galinda track which was SO FUN It didn’t feel like rehearsal.
What was your first show like? How were you feeling throughout the show – nervous, excited, scared?
My first performance was in the Broadway company. My fella greeted me at the stag door and asked me how it went. I told him, “There were bubbles and green things and that is about all I can remember!”
How was the initial rehearsal process for Glinda, and what was your first performance like?
The process was that. A Process. There are so many specific marks and gimmicks that it takes awhile for you to get out of your head and into the role. The first performance was in Cleveland , Ohio during a HUGE snow storm . We only had about half of our audience. But, I was living the dream! I remember when I first saw the show and Chenoweth came down in that bubble I said, I wanna do that someday! It all came full circle
What was your favorite song or scene to perform in the ensemble and as Glinda and why?
I loved singing Thank Goodness – it’s Galinda’s epiphany and the way Stephen wrote it – it’s stunning.
Do you have any onstage bloopers or mishaps you’ve been involved in or witnessed you’d like to share?
My biggest is when I forgot the words to Popular! Whhhhaaaaaaatttt? I had only sung it a billion times! But man oh man, they went right out of my head for a couple of bars
Which was more exhausting: all of the dancing and heavy singing of the ensemble or the intensive acting and singing of Glinda?
Most certainly Glinda. I had a pretty easy dance track. After going on for Glinda, I would always need a HUGE dinner and a nap!
How did you come to be involved with Finian’s Rainbow? How is that going so far?
I auditioned for the Encores production of it the week I got back from tour. There was buzz while we were doing it there that we were moving to Broadway and we were thrilled when it transferred. We just closed last night. It was such a wonderful production. It was classic musical theatre. Sweet and simple. I was so lucky to be apart of it.
Are there any dream roles you’d like to play one day? Would you every consider a return to “Wicked”?
I want to play Penny in Hairspray again for sure! I would also like to do Audrey in “Little Shop…”, Winnifred in “Once Upon a Mattress”…the list goes on and on! As for Wicked, I would love to return someday It is still my favorite musical!