Today, we are excited to post an exclusive interview with Ms. Jacqui Graziano. She has had quite a tenure with “Wicked”, starting in the Chicago production in 2005, and though she’s had a break since, she’s now traveling with the 2nd National Tour as a swing and understudy for Nessarose. Enjoy her intriguing interview below!
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you land it?
“Goodness it was a long time ago!” My first professional job was when I did OLIVER when I was 10yrs old. My 3rd grade teacher was directing it at the local community theater and she invited the class to audition. I only went because my best friend at the time made me go, she said she wanted to do it but wouldn’t audition unless I went with her. It turned out she didn’t show up and my mom made me sing. I got a role and the rest is history as they say!” 🙂
How did you come to audition for “Wicked” and what was the audition process like?
I went to an open dance call truly just for the enjoyment of dancing. I hadn’t danced in awhile and new it would be fun choreography. It ended up being one of my most memorable and amazing experiences there because there were roughly 400 girls there and I was one of 4, yes only 4 that got asked to sing. I shall cherish that memory forever! ”
How long and how difficult was the initial rehearsal process for the show?
“The rehearsal length was pretty standard but the process was abit more challenging for me that perhaps other members of the cast mainly being because I was hired as a swing and therefore, had to learn all 9 tracks while others only had to focus on one.”
What was your first show like? How were you feeling throughout the show – nervous, excited, scared? Which ensemble track were you in?
“Well I got very lucky in that a girl was injured ( not lucky for her ) during our tech rehearsals so I had to jump into the show immediately without full preparation. This actually ended being such a gift as the creative team knew it was very difficult and gave me some extra help and time to learn everything. I think I was too focused to be nervous and my brain to filled with numbers and positions …etc…I can say and do remember being very happy, however, that I had the chance to get on stage in the early stages!”
Do you have several different sets of ensemble costumes, or do you just wear one standard set?
“Each swing and/or ensemble member has their own costumes. The swings have a few extra because of the the different tracks we cover”.
What is your favorite ensemble track to perform, and why?
“Hhmm..well I would have to say I still love very much to perform Phannee because I did that track over the past 4 years the most, especially in Chicago”..I also do love playing the midwife and getting to hold the green baby with love and care, yes I actually love that moment”.
How was the initial rehearsal process for Nessarose, and what was your first performance like?
‘Ya know this may be hard to believe, but I actually don’t recall rehearsing that much for Nessa, I think because of being a swing I had to be at every rehearsal and it just sorta sank in. My first show was mainly full of nerves but I do remember having fun being in the wheelchair!”
How often do you rehearse for the ensemble and Nessarose now that the show is up and running?
“Roughly every two weeks we will have understudy rehearsals.”
Does your performance of Nessarose changed based on who you’re working with?
“Sometimes yes, there have been a few Boqs that I felt I had a great chemistry with, when you feel that, you naturally feel like it is bringing the best out of you”.
Do you have any onstage bloopers or mishaps you’ve been involved in or witnessed you’d like to share?
“Too many to count!!”
Which is more exhausting: all of the dancing and heavy singing of the ensemble or the intensive acting and singing of Nessarose?
“If I am honest, it is much more exhausting being in the ensemble for the simple fact we are on-stage much more. In the ensemble it takes a lot of energy to stay engaged and really truthfully present in the scenes and that is always my goal. Sometimes after Governor’s Mansion as Nessa I am totally drained because there is a lot of emotions going back and forth in that scene, but overall, the ensemble is more demanding.”
Are there any dream roles you’d like to play one day?
‘Yes, Aldonza in Don Quiote and maybe in another decade Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd..two awesome female roles!!”