Today, we are thrilled to share an interview with Neka Zang. Ms. Zang is currently a member of the San Francisco production, portraying the Witch’s Mother each night and understudying the role of Nessarose. Previously, she has performed the role of the Witch’s Mother in the Los Angeles Production and the Chicago Production. Check out her interview below.
– What was your first professional job? How did you get the job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was performing the lead role “Peggy Sawyer” in 42nd street at The Performing Arts Center of Costal Carolina. I had come straight out of college, and went in to audition for the ensemble, and came out with the lead! I learned professionalism, and met amazingly talented people, who I have linked up with on other shows as well!
– How did you come to audition for “Wicked”? What was the audition process like? I auditioned twice. Each time there was probably over 200 girls just for that day. I had to perform a long dance combination from the show, and a monkey combination that was not in the show. After people were cut, I was asked to sing for the creative team. It was a long day, but so fun, as they had live drums and piano in the room!
– What was your reaction when you found out that you had been cast in “Wicked”? How quickly did you have to move to begin rehearsals?
I was so shocked when I got the call that I had been cast in Wicked. This show was something I had dreamed of doing! I was in Boston at the time working, and my parents were visiting me, so they got to share the good news with me right then and there! I had about three months to go back to NYC and pack and head to Chicago to start rehearsals, and it went by very slowly!!
– How intense were the rehearsals for the ensemble? Did you rehearse all day every day?
I had two weeks to learn the show. You come in Tuesday-Sunday to learn the music, scenes, and dances. At first it felt very overwhelming, but as the week goes on it all starts to come together and make sense.
– What was your first performance like?
I remember there being a lot of smoke, and having a hard time recognizing my colleagues in their crazy Ozian wigs. I had a lot of adrenaline pumping thats for sure! It was amazing and I will never forget that feeling!
– How did the move to the San Francisco production come about?
I had been asked to join the L.A. production of the show before we moved to S.F. The move was just a part of me staying with the show.
– What is your favorite part of the show to perform?
All the dancing in the first act is my favorite, because its fun costumes, improving with your colleagues, and it keeps you sweating until “Defying Gravity”.
– We saw that you recently earned a promotion to understudy for Nessarose. How did this come about? How have rehearsals been thus far?
I had wanted to be this understudy for some time, but there was never a spot open for me. I auditioned a long time ago, and when a spot opened up for me, I was promoted. Rehearsals have been excellent. I love sitting in the wheelchair for most of the show! It is a nice departure from my ensemble track as a dancer!
– Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage mishaps or bloopers you’d like to share?
Oh my gosh have I ever! Spills, falls, Glinda’s bubble getting stuck, the levitator not working, flubbed lines. I have had some nasty spills of my own. The worst happening offstage where I was slipping into my monkey costume, fell of my chair, hit my eye and had an intense black eye for weeks!
– Now that the show is up and running, how often does the company have to rehearse?
It really depends. There is understudy rehearsals a couple times a month, and various cleanups for the ensemble for dance and vocals.
– Once you began performances in “Wicked”, did you have to alter any daily habits to protect your voice and body?
Yes! Doing 8 shows a week really takes a toll on my body. I now do private pilates twice a week to keep my center really strong so I can do the show without injuring myself! I also don’t really go out on days before we have matinees so that I can save my voice. Eating healthy is also key to having lots of energy.
– Are there any dream roles that you’d like to perform one day?
I actually don’t have a dream role perse, but I love the musical “Tommy”. I would also love to dance in the show “Chicago”.
– What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Work hard, don’t ever give up on your dreams, and have lots of luck on your side!