Exclusive Interview: Kevin McMahon

Today’s exclusive interview is with Kevin McMahon, who performs as the Witch’s Father/Ozian Official and understudies the Wizard and Dr. Dillamond with the 1st national tour.  Mr. McMahon has performed on national tour, off-Broadway, and in many regional theaters across the United States. We thank Mr. McMahon for this interview. For more information, please visit http://www.kevin-mcmahon.com/

What was your first professional acting job, and how did you land it?

During the summer between my sophomore and junior year in college, I performed in a musical revue at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA.  I landed it by gong to a huge “cattle call” in Boston where they saw literally thousands of people.  These auditions took place all over the east coast.  About a month later, I got a call with the offer.   It didn’t pay much, but looking back, it was one of the best training tools ever as we did the same show, several times a day, six days a week.  It taught me how to maintain and pace myself in a long running show.

How did you come to audition for “Wicked” and what was the audition process like?

I had just signed with a new agent and that very day an opening for LA Wicked was posted.  My agent secured me an audition and I went in with sides and music prepared for the roles.  The part that was open in that company was for the swing/understudy to Dillamond and the Wizard.  After the call, the casting director pulled me aside and said that creative staff liked me but wanted to wait to consider me in the Father role when there was an opening.  A few months later, I had another audition, went in and did some of the same material and a couple of days later got the call to pack my bags.

How was the process for rehearsing the Witch’s Father/ensemble? For Dr. Dillamond? For the Wizard?

I had about 10 days of rehearsal.  After I learned my Father/Ozian Official role, they had me start learning the Wizard.  After my first Father performance, I continued to rehearse for the Wizard and Dillamond during the day while doing shows at night.  I had my “put in” for the Wizard in my first city and for Dillamond in my second city.  All told, the whole process took about 5 weeks.

What was your first performance with “Wicked” like?

Like being shot out of a cannon.  As much preparation as you do, understudy rehearsal, put in’s, etc., nothing is like doing it with the full company in front of a sold out audience.  Pretty thrilling.

The Witch’s Father, Dr. Dillamond, and the Wizard each have a
different relationship with Elphaba. What is it like to explore these

For the Father, I try to draw on the ego of the character. He’s the Governor after all and appearances are vital to him.  Elphaba is the source of great humiliation for him.  He’d like to hide her under a rock

For Dillamond I try to draw on his kindness and empathy for Elphaba.  He can really relate to being different.

For The Wizard, it’s a bit more conflicted.  Basically the Wizard is a man in over his head.  He’s literally fallen into this position and is struggling to maintain his power.  He needs Elphaba and seeks to find ways to make her cooperate.  It’s a bit of a power struggle and a game of cat and mouse.

What is the makeup process for Dr. Dillamond like?

Because I don’t perform Dillamond on a regular basis, and you have so little time between the end of the opening number and the end of “Loathing” where Dillamond makes his entrance, I get a head start and do my base and some of the eye make up so that is ready at places.  After the opening number exit, I rush to the dressing room, quickly get out of my mob coat and begin the process.  Basically you create deep shadows in your checks, hollow out your eyes and highlight the wrinkles.  The mask helps.

What are some of the challenges of performing while on the road?

Being away from family, living out of a trunk and two suitcases, finding good doggie day care for my pup and missing certain stores.  I’m a creature of habit and if I can find a Trader Joe’s and/or a Costco, I’m in heaven.

What are some of your favorite cities you’ve visited while on tour?

Portland, San Diego, Denver, Providence, New Orleans… all for different reasons.  Really, every city has great things if you are willing to seek them out.

Do you have any onstage bloopers or mishaps you’ve been involved in
or witnessed you’d like to share?

I’ve fallen a few times in the opening number.  That bubble juice is slick!

You have performed a lot in regional theatre. How is it different
performing in a production with a limited run versus an open-ended production like “Wicked”?

In a limited regional run you are most always a part of the creation, whether it be a new show or a revival of an older show, you are part of the rehearsal process and there is a certain ownership that comes with that.  In our company there are only two people left who are original 1st National cast members so the rest of us, at one point or another, joined a company that was already in progress. The specifics of this show’s staging are remarkable.  You simply need to be where they tell you to be, on specific numbers at certain times.  Not only for your safety, but for lighting issues.   It isn’t ideal but it’s reality.  Overtime, you find a way to make it your own, but staying within these perimeters.  I say to new people “find the humanity in the numbers”.

Are there any dream roles you’d like to play?

I’ve been lucky to play a couple of them: Henrik in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Malcolm in THE FULL MONTY, Cocky in ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT, (all multiple times).  I’d love to do Mr. Snow in CAROUSEL again.  I did it once it a very small production and I’d love to sing that with a full orchestra and I’d love to do Herman in THE MOST HAPPY FELLA.

What advice would you give to aspiring performers?

Study.  Go to school and get a degree if you that’s your path.  But whatever you do study, observe and learn from people you admire and respect.

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