Today, we have an exclusive interview with Nadine Cox. Ms. Cox performed in the West End company of “Wicked”, where she was an original cast member and understudy for Madame Morrible. She will be performing from November 15 – December 5, 2011 at the Union Theatre as Maxine in “Stepping Out”. Tickets are available by clicking here. (will insert link to www.ticketsource.co.uk.) Check out her interview below!
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you get it? What did you learn from the experience?
My first pro job was pantomime when I was three! I can’t really remember it!
How did you come to audition for “Wicked”? How long was the audition process, and what did you have to do?
I was on tour as Mrs. Bixby with “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” when my agent at the time said that I had an audition for “Wicked”. I didn’t even think I’d get an audition so I was thrilled. If I remember rightly the audition process was over about five weeks in total but it was a while ago! The first round was singing, then I got recalled with Morrible material and music from the show, then a dance call, then a script and music call with the American creatives and I think there was another dance call somewhere in there but the final call was musical and script work.
What was your reaction when you found out you had been cast in “Wicked”?
I was on my way to Bristol on the tour and got a phone call from my agent saying I had been offered the job and I screamed, then I rang my mum to tell her. She was ecstatic for me. I knew what a big deal the show was going to be and already was in America and I felt so lucky and proud that I was going to be in the original London cast! I was a little shellshocked as I had a moment where I just kept saying to myself I’m going to be in “Wicked”, I’m going to be in “Wicked”. I was so excited at the thought of it that I spent the rest of the day and the week and probably up to rehearsals and opening night in a bit of a daze. Opening night was unbelievable and i remember being overwhelmed on hearing the audience roar when the curtain went up.
How long was your initial rehearsal process for the show? What was it like?
The rehearsal process was five weeks I think. It was everything from nerve wracking to exciting, exhilarating, scary, fantastic, funny. Aside from the intense schedule which is required in any show, particularly with a show on the scale of “Wicked” and the extreme hard work from everyone, we all had so much fun. There were a lot of laughs.
What was the hardest part of your rehearsal process for the ensemble? What about for Madame Morrible?
“I have to be honest and say there was nothing difficult about rehearsing for my ensemble role as Shenshen. It was so much fun and wonderful to have the chance to create something from scratch. The director Joe Mantello gave me a beautifully eloquent and perfect description of what he was looking for, a really strong guideline, and then said I could do what I wanted within that and he would tell me if something worked or didn’t etc. and that’s how it went. It was amazing knowing that I could be spontaneous and brave with my choices and that I could be free in those choices. Choreographically, the rehearsal process with Wayne Cilento was awesome as were the musical rehearsals with Stephen Oremus. Truly inspiring and exciting. I would get real rush every day knowing that I was going to rehearsals. Reharsing for the ensemble was just brilliant. The one thing I remember that’s quite funny is that there were loads of us who just couldn’t say “the witch of the west is dead” in the opening. It kept coming out “the wikcedy witch is west” It was so funny and thank god I had that line under my belt by opening night! I suppose the difficult thing about understudying any role is that you honestly could get put on at any point…..that could mean anything from a few weeks’ notice when you know someone is going on holiday to a phone call on the day or not long before the show starts. It’s the never knowing that is both hard but also fun as it keeps you on your toes and gives you another focus outside the ensemble track you have.
What was your favorite part of the show to perform in the ensemble? What about as Madame Morrible?
Favourite part as Morrible is the “Citizens of Oz, there is an enemy who must be found and captured ” etc and the section on the stairs when she grabs Galinda and tells her to smile and wave and shut up. Morrible is so vile and was so much fun to play. There are so many ensemble parts I loved. It’s very difficult to pick out but I always enjoyed the scenes in the classroom when me, Pfannee and Galinda would annoy Elphaba!
How long does it take to get into the extensive make-up and costume required for Madame Morrible?
After doing it for a long time, the Morrible makeup and costume took just over twenty-five minutes. When I first started doing the makeup it took me forever and I’m good with stage makeup! It’s a very specific look. I loved becoming Morrible. The costumes were incredible as were my ensemble costumes.
How did you keep your voice in good shape while performing such a vocally demanding role each night?
Keeping vocally healthy is incredibly important. The ensemble vocal demands are high in “Wicked”. Every single person on that stage plays a vital role in how the show sounds and you can tell if there is a harmony missing or isn’t as strong as it should be. You have a responsibility to be as healthy as you can be outside the obvious obstacles of getting unwell as everyone does. Singing eight shows a week is extremely demanding and can be very tiring on the voice. When I was in “Wicked” I would generally go home most nights straight after the show. I don’t drink or smoke so all of that helps with vocal hygiene and I don’t tend to go out very much where I have talk at a level that is too much above my natural speaking level. That sounds very drastic but when I’m working that’s what I do. Plenty of sleep is a must must must.
What was it like to leave “Wicked” after being in the show so long?
Oh my goodness, leaving “Wicked” was very upsetting but it was the right decision after three years commitment to the most brilliant show. I had had the most fantastic time there and I was very sad to go but I needed to move on and I was very lucky to go into “Billy Elliot” a few months later. I finished that in November last year and then did pantomime in Brighton at Christmas. I start rehearsals shortly for the original play version of “Stepping Out” in which I’ll be playing Maxine at The Union Theatre. I can’t wait!
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Advice to any aspiring performers? I get asked this a lot. There’s so much I could say. I don’t know where to begin. I love what I do and couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do to. Performing is the most amazing thing to be able to do. I love love love my job. If you love acting, singing, dancing and can’t think about anything else and are passionate about always learning and improving then be what you want to be. Despite the fact that it can be an incredibly tough business with many many disappointments, it also has wonderful moments and if you are realistic about your casting bracket and can accept both positive and negative feedback, if you love what you do then go for it.