Today, we have an exclusive interview with Mariand Torres. Ms. Torres took over as the standby for Elphaba on the 1st National Tour of “Wicked” in May. Since then, she has performed the role several times as the standby to Donna Vivino and Jackie Burns. Check out her answers below!
What was your first professional acting job? How did you get it, and what did you learn from the experience?
My first job out of college was a Christmas Show at a theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I sang a few solos in the show and was a Christmas elf. I got the gig by going to an open call for it right after I moved to NYC. I learned not to take myself too seriously. I mean, I was an elf.
How did you come to audition for “Wicked”? What was your personal audition process like?
My first audition for Wicked was in 2006. I always wanted to audition for Wicked, but I didn’t have an agent out of college and didn’t have my equity card. I would try to crash the Equity calls for the show but I never got in. I finally got in the room because I had crashed an Equity call for Rent, which Telsey & Co also cast, and got in. After I sang, the casting director asked me if I’d ever been in for Wicked, and I said no. About a month later I had an appointment for Elphaba, in which I sang from the show and did a few scenes. I didn’t get it, but I kept being called in year after year. Three and a half years and about 12 auditions later, here I am!
What was your reaction when you found out you’d been cast in the show?
I was shocked. I couldn’t believe after all that time that I’d actually gotten it! Then I cried and laughed at the same time. I was on the subway…I must have looked insane.
Who was the first person you told you’d been cast? How did they react?
I tried calling my mom but she was at work. Then I called my best friend, and when she answered the phone I just went “AAAAHHHH!!!’ She knows me well enough to know that that meant that I got it, so she replied with an “AAAHHHHH!!” and then we cried and screamed.
How long was your rehearsal process for the show?
The rehearsal process was about 2 1/2 weeks. I rehearsed in a room with our Stage Manager and Dance Captains, and they played all the other characters and I sang along to a recording of the show. I also had one on one rehearsals with our conductor. Then I had a run through with the understudies and ensemble, then my put-in, and that was that! Two weeks later I made my debut.
What was your first performance like? What emotions were running through you throughout the show?
My first performance was a bit of a blur! I know everyone says that, but it’s so true! I just remember my heart practically beating out of my chest when I made my entrance! I also remember being on the levitator during Defying Gravity and realizing that I was actually playing Elphaba and singing that awesome song. It was pretty cool.
What is your favorite song to perform? What about your favorite scene?
I love No Good Deed! It is probably the most challenging song in the show for me, but it is such a thrill! The song marks a huge turning point for Elphaba and getting to play that is so exciting. And it’s fun to have permission to act a little crazy and throw a few fits 🙂 I love the cub scene with Fiyero because Elphaba goes from being her defensive and guarded self to softening up and really being vulnerable.
Have you witnessed (or been involved in) any funny bloopers or mishaps during your tenure at “Wicked”? What about other shows?
Oh yes. My second show, during What is this Feeling (Loathing, as everyone knows it), I took too big a step forward and basically stepped off of the stage. I almost fell into the orchestra pit, but luckily Chandra caught me. It was pretty awkward because she had to pretend to hate me all while saving my life.
Could you ever see yourself playing another part in “Wicked”?
There’s nothing else I’m right for in the show!
What are some dream roles you’d like to one day perform?
Elphaba had been a dream role for so long, I’m happy where I am right now and just living in the moment. But I would love to originate a role on Broadway, of course!
What advice would you give to aspiring actors and actresses?
Only pursue this if you really, truly love it and can’t see yourself doing anything else. Remember that you will never stop growing-always take classes and be open to learning as much as you can about this business and about yourself. And also remember that there is a huge world out there that has nothing to do with theatre, so take it in and live in it!