Exclusive Interview: Erin Wilson

Today, we have a fabulous exclusive interview with Erin Wilson, who is in the ensemble (playing Shen-Shen) and is an understudy for the role of Madame Morrible on the 2nd National Tour. Check it out below!

What was your first professional acting job? What did you learn from the experience?
My first professional acting job was a show called The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the Tuacahn Center for the Arts.  I learned a lot about handling yourself professionally and with learning to be consistent for a long run.   It was a 2 month run and with shows every night it was good to figure out what worked early on and keep that in check every night.
When was your first time seeing “Wicked”, and when did you see it?
I first saw Wicked when I won the lottery in NYC (if I remember correctly) with the original cast.  I was gobsmacked of course and when I saw Kathy Deitch on stage as Shen Shen I knew this was going to be a show I would do.  I was so impressed by all of the spectacle and the honesty of everyone.  It felt like they truly left their hearts and souls on the Gershwin stage and I wanted to do just that one day.
When did you first begin auditioning for a spot in “Wicked”? What did you have to do in auditions?
I went to an open equity dance call and Wayne Cilento [choreographer of Wicked] happened to be there. I made it past a few rounds and eventually was asked to sing. This is the ONLY audition I have ever not brought my audition book to {I was pretty sure I would get cut for some reason} and when they asked me to stay and sing I was freaking out. Luckily my friend was also kept and she SO kindly let me use her book. I flipped through the songs and realized the only song I knew well enough was “What I Did For Love” from A Chorus Line {coincidentally a show in which Wayne was an original cast member} and kind of nailed it. PURE LUCK and adrenaline because this isn’t a song I sing, just one I know! This began my auditioning for Wicked–I was asked back later 2 more times to sing/dance/read (Morrible stuff, etc.) for casting and creatives and finally booked it.

Erin Wilson in the Ensemble

Erin Wilson in the Ensemble

What was your reaction when you found out that you had landed a role in the show?
I was about to get on a plane to go home and I got a call from the casting agent who wanted to let me know that I would be receiving a formal call from Wicked sometime the next day.  I was elated and just shouted, “You won!  You are officially my favorite person of this year!”  I have no idea what that means, but I was BEYOND thrilled to book the show.  When I got the official call I tried to trick my parents and tell them I didn’t get it, but I couldn’t keep my smile down so that didn’t pan out too well.  We all just hugged and smiled 🙂
How long and difficult was the rehearsal process for the show?

Because we are an original company of Wicked we had a proper month long rehearsal schedule 10am-6pm daily in NYC prior to leaving for tour.  The new people, myself included had about a week to learn most of the show.  We were very fortunate to work with Joe Mantello and Wayne Cilento the original director and choreographer as well as their extremely talented team in building this show. It was an amazing and taxing process…one that I will never forget.  We teched the show in Fort Myers, FL (also an experience I won’t ever forget).  I recall standing in my emerald city costume, breaking in my brand new green custom heels and clinching my teeth together reminding myself that this is what I waited for for so long!  Those were long days and my feet haven’t forgotten it 🙂
What was the first show with the new tour like?
Hmmm…the first show was amazing.  My best friend on the tour, Libby Servais (who is now the Glinda standby in SF) and I hugged right when the orchestra began.  We just looked at each other and said, “We’re in Wicked!”  Such a cool moment.  When the map scrim pulled up I remember thinking “I am so grateful, so blessed.”  This show has truly changed my life!
What have you liked and disliked thus far about touring?
My favorite thing is the first day in a new theater. So fresh, so exhilarating. My least favorite thing is packing and not getting to have a printer, a kitchen aid mixer, and a sewing machine at my disposal 🙂

Erin Wilson as Madame Morrible

Erin Wilson as Madame Morrible

How much rehearsal did you have to undergo for Madame Morrible? What is it like to perform that role?
We rehearsed about a month (1-2 days a week) in understudy rehearsal.  We still have understudy rehearsal to stay fresh once every city.  I love, love, love, love, love playing that woman.  She is so inherently selfish, evil, funny, manipulative, and calculated….quite a divine lady to play!
Do you have to do a lot to take care of your body and voice while performing so intensely eight times per week?
I have to be careful with my voice because I have had serious acid reflux while on tour.  That has affected me quite a bit, but I think I am back to being in a good place.  It is hard changing climates and places a lot.  Lots of new allergies and weather to get used to quickly.  I also find it IMPERATIVE to get good nights sleep.  I don’t go out a ton after the shows and definitely don’t eat after shows.
Could you ever see yourself playing one of the other leading ladies in “Wicked”?
I love both the witch roles, and I am not sure I would want the pressure of Elphaba night after night.  I have always really appreciated the arc that Galinda takes from beginning to end.  She really is a well written character.  If my type changed a bit I could see myself in a bubble, I guess 🙂
Have you witnessed or perhaps been involved in any onstage bloopers you’d like to share?
Oh, where to start!  Live theater is amazing.  My favorite is probably the time when a certain theater’s electrical system failed and while Elphaba was doing her Oz Dust Ballroom awkward dance the stage manager had to rush through all of the show cues up to that point.  It was funny and kind of cool because we could write it off that Elphaba was concocting a bit of magic during her dance.
Do you have any dream roles?
Fanny Brice, Mama Rose, Mother in Ragtime, Lucille Frank (Parade), Cathy (Last 5 Years), Mrs. Lovett, and probably many more.  I would love to originate a role from the ground up most of all!
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Work, work, work!  Dig in and get to know your craft from every angle.  Know who you are and love yourself for who you are regardless of what happens in your career.  Success isn’t measured by the number of shows you book…

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