Today, we are excited to share part two of our “Blooper Reel” series with Kristine Reese. Ms. Reese portrayed the role of Nessarose in both the first and second national tours and was a swing an understudy for the role of Nessarose in the 1st National Tour. We spoke with Ms. Reese on the subject of bloopers occurring in live performances of “Wicked” last month. Read the second part of our conversation below.
Kristine Reese [KR]: There’s a couple of times where the statue didn’t come out for “Dancing Through Life”, or it came out but got stuck, so it’s supposed to come downstage, and then Fiyero is supposed to use it to jump off of and then there’s choreography on it and stuff like that. And so, all of a sudden it doesn’t move downstage and everyone’s just kind of trying to think of what to do the entire song, including Fiyero, and then the scene changes so that we go into the party scene and the statue’s just sitting there. And when it’s happening, it’s funny and scary, because you’re trying to think so quickly about what you’re going to do to make it work.
Isaac Evans [IE]: Right.
KR: But afterwards, it’s just funny. Those are usually just tour things that happen, and a lot more on the 2nd National Tour because the theatres’ backstage is smaller and the automation is arranged slightly different, so it just gets stuck more. At least in my experience.
IE: Yeah, I noticed that before when I went backstage on each tour – I was kind of shocked at how much smaller it was but that you still manage to fit the same stuff in.
KR: Yeah, I think it’s not even that it’s smaller; it’s just that the automation is somewhat different in how it’s set up than on the 1st Tour.
KR: Another funny thing is – and I don’t know if this happens on Broadway – but when something happens and the crew has to come onstage and take the set off. One time, in the governor’s mansion, the armoire that Elphaba comes out of that she’s hiding in didn’t go off stage. So I was like, “It was Elphaba, Boq, it was Elphaba!”, and then a crew guy just walks out and takes it off and you’re like, “Oh, how’s it going?” [laughs] Here’s another good story: My husband [Billy Harrigan Tighe] is a Fiyero understudy.
KR: When we were in Minneapolis, they had to make him a Witch’s Father understudy for just a hot second, because Daniel Torres was gone for a period of time and then Don Richard was on vacation, and Peter Ermides, who’s one of the swings who covers the Father and is really the only person who goes on for the father if Don Richard is out. Even if Dr. Dillamond is out and Don is out, he’d still go on for both. That’s how reliant they are on the fact that he’s the only person who goes on for the Witch’s Father, because he’s the only person who’s really appropriate.
KR: So they came to Billy, and this is all in the matter of about a week that this whole thing happened, and they said, “We don’t have anybody but Peter for the father, because Don Richard is gone, so if God forbid, something happened to Peter, like he got stuck in traffic or got sick – worst case scenario – we have no one else to go on for the Father, so we have to teach it to you just in case.” Also, he’s the only Fiyero understudy at the time too.
IE: That’s right, because Daniel was gone too.
KR: So we were having all of these put-ins because people were new; so he was in rehearsal every single day as Fiyero, so they asked, “Can you come into rehearsal early on Friday and learn the Witch’s Father, but it’s only going to be for an emergency, so don’t even worry about it.” So he learns the lines overnight. The next day we had a wedding shower that the whole entire cast was having for us.
KR: It was like at 10 AM across the street in Minneapolis, and we were so excited for it, and he had just learned the Father, and Don Amendolia is sitting across the table from Billy and me at the brunch, and Don Amendolia never misses, and he is sick. He has to leave the brunch. I looked at Billy and he was like, “Oh. My. God. I just learned this part yesterday.” And sure enough, Don Amendolia was out, and Peter Ermides was on for the Wizard, and that was the one scenario where Peter couldn’t be the father and the Wizard, so Billy had to be the father, and he had to be MY father.
KR: So everyone thinks it’s hysterical, and everyone is saying they’re going to laugh so hard, and not even going to be able to keep a straight face. So then I saw him in the wig, because when it’s not the actual guy who plays the part, they have to wear a long black wig.
KR: Have you seen that before? The wig for the understudy?
IE: I never have actually seen an understudy for that role go on live, but I’ve seen pictures of understudies in costume and always thought it was funny how they were either bald or had ridiculously long hair.
KR: So I saw him in the wig before we went onstage, and I was nearly hysterical, because I couldn’t even look at him, and I know it’s only like two seconds in the show, but I can’t just laugh. So we had a little chat before we went onstage saying that we had to be serious, we couldn’t acknowledge that he was my fiancé and that I was his fiancé, we had to be father and daughter. So we came out and he said, “My precious little girl.” and I was just like “Oh my God…” and every single person onstage was laughing.
IE: Of course.
KR: And he was smirking, and Vicki was laughing, not even pretending that she’s not laughing. And at the part where he’s supposed to give me a little kiss, and my head was spinning so fast, and it was hysterical. Hysterical. It wasn’t just funny because it happened, it was funny because he had just learned it. Then the next day he went on for Fiyero. It was just like 72 hours of hilariousness, ya know? It was pretty great.
Check back for part 3 soon!