Today, we have an exclusive interview from former Elphaba Victoria Matlock. Ms. Matlock was standby for Elphaba on the 1st National Tour in 2006 before later being promoted to full-time Elphaba in 2007 and performed the role for most of that year. Since then, she has performed in “The Marvelous Wonderettes” Off-Broadway. We thank her for her time and we hope that you enjoy the interview!
– What was your first professional acting job, and how did you get the job?
My first professional acting job was TheatreWorks USA, here in New York. It was a show called Lyle, Lyle Crocodile, based on the children’s book, and I played the mother. I just went to an open audition here in New York, and got really lucky! I got my Equity Card on my first job. We had to load the set in and out every day, which made me appreciate the luxury of having someone do that for you, and how hard they work.
– What is your favorite job that you have held thus far?
Oh how to choose? I don’t think anything could really compare to Wicked. It’s my absolute dream role, and I was so honored to a part of it.
– How long and difficult was the audition process for “Wicked”?
The audition process was a challenge. I had first gone in to be Kristen Chenoweth’s Standby, and I didn’t do very well. I learned so much from that audition! So I went to every open call they had for two years, until I finally got in the right door at the right time. I wanted to make sure I could sing these extremely difficult songs at the drop of a hat, and be prepared for anything they could throw at me in the audition room. So I sang those songs every day, over and over, until I had no voice left. By the time the audition came around I was strong and confident, which came in handy, because my final audition was early in the morning. They had me sing all of Wizard and I and I’m Not That Girl, but what really got me was being asked to sing the end section of Defying Gravity three times in a row! I was really glad I had built my strength up.
– What was your initial reaction when you found out you had been cast as standby for Elphaba? What about when you found out you had been promoted to lead?
I was jumping up and down on the street! I felt like the luckiest girl in the world! And being promoted was even more exciting, though after watching Julia Murney and Shoshana Bean I knew that I had my work cut out for me. How could I even compare? It’s very daunting!
– How was the initial rehearsal process for the show? Did you have to go through a lot of rehearsal to prepare Christina DeCicco to join the show?
I rehearsed with Julia initially, and watched her a lot. I think her Elphaba really helped shape my interpretation. Christina and I worked a lot together and talked a whole lot about who these people were and what we wanted to bring to the story. It was so important to us that you felt the love between these two women, despite all they go through.
– How did your performance change based on who you were performing with as Glinda or other characters?
Every time a new person is on it breathes new life into the show. It would shake me out of my habits and get me to have an honest reaction and conversation with the characters. It puts you on your toes. Though sometimes a moment would go by and I’d think “Oh I wish I’d known they were going to do that. I would have given them more time to get the laugh,” or something. I have so much respect for understudies. It’s so hard to step into someone else’s show.
– What was your favorite part of the show to perform, and why?
It varied. I would go through phases. Some weeks The Wizard and I would be so fun and fresh and filled with life. But then it would switch over to the fight scene with Glinda. Christina and I just loved to fake slap each other! Only once or twice did we miscalculate and actually make contact. That was fun. That would make us laugh.
– As standby, what did you do backstage to pass the time?
Everything. I made jewelry, watched Project Runway, talked with cast members. I loved watching the show, too. I used to sneak up backstage during Defying Gravity and watch her fly. It never got old and can still bring me to tears. I’d also sing the show full out sometimes, just to make sure the muscles stayed in shape.
– As lead, did you ever miss the free time you had backstage? Did you have to alter other daily habits to protect your health?
I did on occasion. Mostly when I was tired and wanted to let my voice rest. I altered everything about my daily habits. More sleep, more water, eat healthy, don’t talk too much outside of the show. And I would get to the theatre two hours early every show to fully warm up vocally and physically, and mentally get into the zone. I also warmed down after the show every night.
– What was it like to originate a role as you did in “The Marvelous Wonderettes”?
It was so fun! We had so much fun in rehearsal. Beth Malone and I would be playing around and suddenly what we were doing would be in the show. The cast recording was so fun to make, and I learned a lot from the whole experience.
– What are your advantages and disadvantages to doing a show on tour and a show in New York?
On tour you get to see the country and play. I love to travel. It’s almost like a vacation sometimes because you’re away from home and get to spend your days going to new restaurants and tourist attractions and shopping. But you’re not sleeping in your own bed. That really got to me after a while. And if people in the show aren’t getting along, it can be hard to escape. In New York, you’re at home, in your own bed, with your friends and family around, and you get to walk down Broadway to get to work. It’s exciting.
– Would you ever consider a return to “Wicked”?
I would consider it, if the right opportunity arose.
– What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Believe in yourself, but don’t get cocky. Trust that there’s a place for you in the business, but fight for it. Work ten times harder than you think you need to. Learn from the people around you, onstage and off. Listen to people whose opinions you trust. And have a real life! The more life outside theatre you experience, the more you have to bring to the stage. Don’t be desperate when you walk in the audition room. Invite them in. Do your work. Be the best “you” that you can be. But most of all, breathe and have fun!