Posts tagged 1st National Tour Production
Today, we’re excited to share a fun interview with the wonderful Jesse JP Johnson! Mr. Johnson is currently portraying the role of Boq on the 1st National Tour of WICKED, but he previously was an ensemble member and understudy for the role on Broadway. Before WICKED, you may have seen him on Broadway in XANADU, ALTAR BOYZ, or GLORY DAYS, or on the national tours of 9-TO-5, GREASE, or OKLAHOMA! Check out his thoughts on WICKED and performing below!
Tell us a little about yourself outside of performing – what kind of hobbies do you have; where did you grow up, etc.
Well… I was born and raised in Colorado! I miss both my family and the city of Colorado almost everyday. Besides performing, I grew up playing hockey and skiing…a lot! I Love the winter and all it has to bring (although maybe not so much in NY….wha wha). In New York, you probably saw me riding around midtown to work on my longboard. I have had it for 7 years in the city and am lost without it. Also, I would be late to many things without it. I have a little Yorky/Chihuahua (Yohuahua) named Jack. He is currently my tour buddy and the love of my life! If I’m not outside enjoying mother nature, I am the biggest couch potato EVER! I LOVE just chillin, snacking and watching Netflix!
What made you decide you wanted to pursue being a performer as a career?
I was a very spacey child with a lot of energy. My parents put me in just about every extra curricular activity that they could think of. When I was home, however, my Nana would put on old movie musicals. My little bro and I used to memorize all the songs and dances from them and occasionally made up our own. I totally wanted to be Gene Kelly. I started out at a children’s theater when I was three. It was called Younger Generation Players and it was after my first show I did with them that I decided, Theatre was the life for me. My Mom says that after my first show I came out upset because I noticed “not everyone was looking at me when I spoke”. It was at that point she knew that the monster had been created…and it did not stop there!
What was your first professional performing job, and what did you learn from the experience?
I believe my first professional gig was in Colorado at an Equity Dinner Theater called The Country Dinner Playhouse. It was a production of The Sound of Music. I was at the ripe age of 12 and played Friedrich. Annaleigh Ashford, who was a former Glinda on Broadway played Liesel in that production. She and I happen to both be from Colorado…Small world for sure!!
What was it like to get to originate an ensemble track in the national tour of 9 to 5?
9 to 5 was a very unique and special experience. From start to finish there was just so much love and support within the cast and crew which was felt both on and off stage. Jeff Calhoun was such dream to work with along with Richard J. Hinds and Lisa Stevens. Not to mention getting a monthly visit from Dolly! She is the sweetest ever and always had a fresh batch of her home made fudge waiting for us the day she arrived! I have never performed alongside such a strong and ridiculously talented, not to mention, well-seasoned group of actors. We were a strong family! It was AWESOME!
How did you come to audition for Wicked? What was your process like?
I think I had auditioned for Wicked about 8 times before actually booking it. My first audition was about 6 or 7 years ago, where they brought me in for Boq. They had brought me in for a universal swing because of my dance background. I was a mess then and obviously it was not in my cards at the time but ever since the show came out I knew I had to be a part of it. My “dream show” as you will. I had naively thought that I was more of a Fiyero, but for obvious height challenging reasons, Boq was ultimately the part for me. The last audition that got me to Broadway was the ending week of 9 to 5. I flew in mid-week, went in to sing and do the Boq sides and got called back for a dance call with one other guy. I then flew back the next morning to finish out the week with 9 to 5. It was that night of the audition that I found out that I had finally booked the show!
When you got word that you would be joining the ensemble of WICKED on Broadway and covering Boq, what was your initial reaction? Who was the first person you told, and how did they react?
It was all such an overwhelming experience. Initially, from exhaustion and the lightning speed of it all, I thought I had no chance in getting the part. I could not believe it when I got the call from my agent that night. I was so stoked!!! I think I went through just about every emotion. The best was the reaction from my mom, who was the first person I had called after I found out! I had just called her like 5 minutes before all defeated and convinced I had not gotten it. She was at work and the minute I told her I had gotten it I heard a loud scream and “thump” in which the phone had dropped from her hands. About 10 seconds later one of her colleagues picked up the phone telling me that, out of her excitement, she had first jumped on the first person she saw and then, after dismounting, she fainted. Although dangerous, that was the exact reaction I could have ever hoped for! I love that Lady!
Tell us a little bit about your first performance in the ensemble on Broadway. What about as Boq?
I just about pooped myself (can I say that?) the minute the curtain came up in the opening. Along with ‘Glory Days’, getting the chance to perform on Broadway is an experience like none other. A true dream come true. I don’t quite remember the first time I played Boq. I think I blacked out because I was so nervous. I do know that it went well and I didn’t mess up so that’s good. I had my family and friends in the audience who kindly reassured me of that.
What is/was your favorite part of the show to perform in the ensemble? As Boq?
My fav part in the ensemble was probably the whole Shiz and Dancing Through Life section. Getting to dance the brilliant choreography on the stage and set of the Gershwin is so fun! I loved everyone in the ensemble and we had so much fun playing during those scenes! Professionally of course.
My fav part as Boq is probably the whole transition into the Tin man. I mean it’s such an iconic part and its then that Boq really gets to go crazy! Although there really isn’t a part I don’t love about playing the role.
How did your move to principal Boq on the tour come along? How has that experience been so far?
It has been such a blessing and I am so honored that they took a chance on me and gave me this opportunity. The creative team had approached me in the past and asked me if I was interested in going on tour as Boq, but due to personal circumstances and just settling into my part on Broadway, I was not ready. Life and paths change, however, and this time around I was more than ready to take this journey. The transition has been smooth so far. I love playing this role and being a part of this show wherever it is. I must say that it was very hard to leave my friends and Wicked family back in New York. That being, I was ready for a new chapter in my life and going on tour again seemed like a fun option.
What do you find are the advantages/disadvantages to touring vs being in a sit-down production? Which is your personal preference?
Getting any job is definitely a blessing for an actor. It’s hard to compare because Broadway is the “ultimate goal” but I am playing a lead here out on tour. I love the freedom that tour provides as I thrive off of spontaneity and I LOVE a good adventure, but I can tend to be a homebody and prefer being in one place. It’s hard to be able to have anything stable while on the road. I guess I am lucky in the fact that I have my dog (Jack) with me. He helps make life and things so much easier and the greeting I get whenever I come home is always the BEST…even if it is to a hotel room.
Do you have any memorable or humorous onstage bloopers from any show you’ve done you’d like to share?
Apart from the many clumsy spills on stage and occasional unzipped zipper, I would say the most humorous but also embarrassing moment on stage was when I fainted. I was doing a brand new show at a new theater in Colorado call “The Rock Odyssey”. I was playing Telemachus, Odysseus’ son. It was the scene where he tries to string the bow to prove to his mom that he is man enough to take over for his father while he is gone. Well the night before this unfortunately amazing accident, was our opening night party. I hadn’t eaten much that day cause we had two shows and I knew they would have so much food there. They had food, but it was all Greek pastries and a huge cake. I mean I didn’t complain, but my blood sugar definitely was. the next day during the show and the part where I had to string the bow, I took one breath to pretend I couldn’t do it and the next thing I know I wake up on the stage floor with the women playing my mother above me with the most terrifying look on her face! I remember getting right back up and starting off where I thought I left off but it was an epic fail for sure!
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
I would just say never give up and always make sure you love what you do. I would also tell young performers to maintain a positive attitude throughout. This business can get you down and if you let it, it will get the best of you. the only way to fight through it is with a positive attitude. The minute that goes away you probably should think of something else to do. It’s not fun for you or anyone else if you aren’t loving it.
Check out these articles from the 1st National Tour Production’s stop in Dallas, Texas!
The Wicked-est witch in the world is about to hit Dallas! - part one of an interview with Dee Roscioli (former Elphaba)
Photos: WICKED The Musical Has Arrived In Dallas! – backstage photos of the show being loaded in
Jaime Rosentein will be joining the first national tour of WICKED on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, in the role of Nessarose, replacing Demaree Catherine Hill. Ms. Rosenstein has several credits with both the Guthrie Theatre and in the Brown/Trinity MFA program. Click here to see her list of credits.
Also on April 30, Alison Luff and John Davidson will be joining as Elphaba and The Wizard, respectively, as previously announced here.
The company also features Jenn Gambatese (Glinda), Kim Zimmer (Madame Morrible) Curt Hansen (Fiyero), Jesse JP Johnson (Boq), Timothy Britten Parker (Dr. Dillamond) and Laurel Harris (Standby for Elphaba) with Dina Bennett, Lauren Boyd, Kyle Brown, Nirine S. Brown, Antonette Cohen, Rick Desloge, Timothy A. Fitz-Gerald, Adam Fleming, Brenda Hamilton, Courtney Iventosch, Trevor Ryan Krahl, Philip Dean Lightstone, Marissa Lupp, Jonathan McGill, Kevin McMahon, Cassie Okenka, Shayla Osborn, Brandon Rubendall, Christopher Russo, Sarah Schenkkan, Pamela Shandrow, Ben Susak and Shanna VanDerwerker.
The company of the first North American tour of WICKED is thrilled to welcome Alison Luff as Elphaba and John Davidson as The Wizard on Tuesday, April 30 in Dallas, TX.
Luff’s Broadway credits include Scandalous (Original Broadway Cast recording) and GHOST the Musical. She was also part of the Broadway and Nat’l Touring companies of Mamma Mia! Luff received a Denver Post Ovation award for Best Supporting Actress in a musical for her portrayal as Olive in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
Davidson has been seen on Broadway in State Fair, Foxy and Oklahoma and Off-Broadway in High Infidelity and The Fantasticks. Davidson’s numerous TV and feature film credits include “That’s Incredible,” “The New Hollywood Squares,” “One Hundred Thousand Dollar Pyramid,” “The Tonight Show,” “The John Davidson Daytime Talk Show,” “The Kraft Sum Music Hall,” “The Girl With Something Extra,” The Happiest Millionaire, The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band, Airport 80 and Edward Scissorhands.
Luff and Davidson join a cast that includes Jenn Gambatese as Glinda and Kim Zimmer as Madame Morrible.
The company also features Curt Hansen (Fiyero), Demaree Hill (Nessarose), Jesse JP Johnson (Boq), Timothy Britten Parker (Dr. Dillamond) and Laurel Harris (Standby for Elphaba) with Dina Bennett, Lauren Boyd, Kyle Brown, Nirine S. Brown, Antonette Cohen, Rick Desloge, Timothy A. Fitz-Gerald, Adam Fleming, Brenda Hamilton, Courtney Iventosch, Trevor Ryan Krahl, Philip Dean Lightstone, Marissa Lupp, Jonathan McGill, Kevin McMahon, Cassie Okenka, Shayla Osborn, Brandon Rubendall, Christopher Russo, Sarah Schenkkan, Pamela Shandrow, Ben Susak and Shanna VanDerwerker.
WICKED is currently playing The Tucson Music Hall through April 7. Tickets are available at the TCC Box Office, online at broadwayintucson.com or ticketmaster.com/wicked or by calling 1-800-745-3000.
Jesse JP Johnson (former ensemble, u/s Boq – Broadway) will be taking over the role of Boq on the 1st National Tour of WICKED on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 in Tuscon, Arizona.
Mr. Johnson replaces Justin Brill, who has been performing as Boq on the 1st National Tour since February 2010, making him the longest-running performer to play Boq in the history of WICKED. Mr. Brill’s last performance will be on Sunday, March 31, 2013.
Today, we are excited to share an exclusive interview we conducted with Patti Murin. Ms. Murin finishes her contract in the role of Glinda on the 1st National Tour of WICKED tomorrow, February 24. Previously, she performed in XANADU and LYSISTRATA JONES on Broadway. She answered us in pink, and instead of reformatting, we decided to leave it pink – very Glinda, don’t you think? Check out her fabulous thoughts on performing and WICKED below!
What was your first professional acting job, and how did you get it? What did you learn from the experience?
My first professional acting job was at a non-Equity theatre in Fort Lauderdale, FL called the Stage Door Theatre. I got the role of Polly in “Crazy For You” right out of college, and I went there and didn’t come back for a year and a half. In all, I did 4 shows there, including “Parade”, “How to Succeed…” and “Annie Get Your Gun”. I loved it so much because it was the first time I was getting paid to do what I had always dreamed of doing, and it was in Florida. So, there was that.
Before WICKED, you understudied Clio/Kira in XANADU on Broadway. What was it like to make your Broadway debut?
Making my Broadway debut was incredible. I was actually a swing for the first 6 months of the show, so I covered all of the Muses before I really covered Clio/Kira. So my debut was as Erato, the Muse of lyrics and erotica. Woohoo! I don’t remember a lot about the show itself, but we were in the middle of a freak storm of injuries, when 3 cast members all broke/sprained/fractured feet or legs within just a few weeks of each other. So it wasn’t under the best circumstances that I had to go on, because Kenita Miller is one of my dearest friends and I didn’t want her to be hurt. But I had about 2 hours to get ready and call my parents to tell them to get their butts down to the theatre, and then there was no turning back!
In 2011, you made your Broadway leading lady debut as the title role in LYSISTRATA JONES. What was that experience like? Was there anything about it that surprised you?
That experience was indescribable. From the very beginning of the project, when we were having choreography/basketball workshops at the gym at Judson before it was a theatre, it was clear that something very special was shaping up. And to be able to take it all the way to Broadway was just a dream. Our whole cast from Off-Broadway transferred, so we were already bonded like a family and best friends. It was exciting to go through it together. The only thing that surprised me was that it didn’t last longer, because it really should have!
You received acclaim for your performance as Ariel in THE LITTLE MERMAID at The Muny – tell us about that. What was it like performing outdoors? What unique challenges does it present?
Working at the MUNY is an experience that I hope to be able to repeat every single summer as long as I am a part of this business. To step out onto that stage and see the thousands and thousand of seats before you is breathtaking. I also played Roxie in “Chicago” this past summer, which was another role I never thought I would play. But to make my MUNY debut singing “Part of Your World” was something I never dreamed possible. We also used many costumes from the Broadway production, which means that I wore a lot of my good friend Sierra Boggess’s clothes! So that was special too.
Performing outdoors is definitely different! During a few nights of “Mermaid” the heat index was over 110 degrees, so it was just disgusting. No matter what you were wearing, you were sweating buckets. And that makes quick changes so much more difficult! They do what they can with fans and water and spray bottles, but it gets brutal. Every night I would take my wig off and my hair would look like I had just washed it. But I loved breathing in the humid air, because it was excellent for singing. And then, of course, you always have to be careful that a bug doesn’t fly in your mouth while you’re belting out a note But when it’s all said and done, you feel like you have truly survived what you thought would be impossible. And it’s worth it to be able to perform a dream role in front of 11,000 people every night, and to see the looks on the children’s faces when Ariel comes onstage.
I first saw “Wicked” back in about 2004 or 2005, and I just loved it. I went in for the show a few times over the years, but I was mainly doing new musical theatre works, so I wasn’t thinking about replacing in a show. And after “Xanadu”, I decided that I wasn’t going to understudy anymore because I wanted to really be playing roles, and I was willing to sit around and wait as long as it took to be able to do that. So while it has always been on my bucket list of roles to play, I hadn’t thought about it in a little while when I got the call asking if I was interested in playing Glinda.
What was your reaction when you found out you had been cast in the show?
I was completely overwhelmed. I was incredibly excited, first and foremost, but it also meant that I was leaving home in less than a week, which I was entirely unprepared for. My husband, Curtis Holbrook, and I were just getting back into our apartment after being away working at the MUNY and visiting family and taking a vacation, so I hadn’t seen my home in about 2 months, and I had to pack everything up in 3 days! So I didn’t really get a chance to sit down and take it all in until I watched the show that very first night in Salt Lake City. And then, I just couldn’t believe that I was finally going to be a part of this unbelievable work of theatre.
Who was the first person you told that you had been cast? What was his/her reaction?
My husband knew because we had been discussing it for a few weeks, waiting for the final word to come through. So the first people I really told were my parents and my little brother, because we were in the car coming home from a winery near my parents’ house that we had visited for an afternoon, and I told them and they were so excited. I think my mom especially has always wanted me to be in “Wicked”, so she was just thrilled.
What was your first performance like? How did you feel throughout the show?
I was lucky enough to have my put in rehearsal the day of my first performance, so I got a great run through right before I had to go on! That doesn’t usually happen. I actually remember feeling not that crazy, and confident that I could get through it. Not perfectly, of course, but well enough! Nicole Parker was my first Elphaba, and she was there for me every step along the way. The entire company was so supportive, not just verbally, but I could feel them around me sending me love and positive energy. And then offstage, the whole stage management team was ready to push me in whatever direction I needed to go in, and to answer any last minute frantic questions I had. The whole company is amazing.
What is your favorite part of the show to perform?
“Popular” is always so much fun, of course. And honestly anytime I’m with Dee Roscioli onstage is magical because we have such a great connection, and doing scenes and songs with her literally makes me want to be a better actor. She IS Elphaba, and being with her makes me want to give her as much as she is giving me. But over the past 6 months, I love singing the end of “Thank Goodness”. I think it’s one of the most well written musical pieces of the show and I can relate to it every single performance. It is just heartbreaking to sing, and I love when I really get it and feel like I have hit every single beat in that section. And then singing that high C at the end is always awesome to me, because I didn’t sing soprano before this show!
Do you find any similarities between Glinda and other characters you’ve played? What about Glinda and yourself?
I tend to play characters that are very energetic, it seems! I suppose you could say Glinda is like Lysistrata Jones because they’re blonde and perky, but they would never run in the same social circle. It’s difficult because I created Lysistrata, so she was a lot like me in general. Glinda on the other hand, I got to take a character that already existed and make her my own. Within reason, of course! So I suppose you can say that my Glinda draws a lot from the ghosts of the Glindas past, present, and yet to come!
Have you had to change any daily habits to protect your voice and body while in the show?
Oh yes. I eat better, I don’t eat after shows anymore so I don’t get acid reflux, I barely drink alcohol anymore, I had to give up soda (except when I have In-N-Out Burger), I don’t have long phone conversations anymore, I don’t go to loud bars, and so on and so on. It’s a fairly nun-like life, but the fact that we have been in cities like Seattle and Honolulu and San Francisco makes it easier, because there are so many things to do and see that don’t involve going out ad partying. I have definitely grown up a bit over the past 6 months
Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage bloopers or mishaps that you’d like to share?
Oh my goodness. Well, during our first performance in Las Vegas the fire alarms started going off during the Opening because it was a brand new facility and they hadn’t dealt with the amount of fog we use in the show. So we kept going until the end of the number and then evacuated the stage. That was fun! Then, also in Vegas, when the final curtail came down, right before curtain call, I was in my bubble coming down, and it just stopped. Like, completely stopped. So they had to manually get it down as far as they could, and then 3 of our amazing crew members dragged a ladder over and literally fireman-rescued me from the bubble. That was fun too. And then during one of my very first performances with Dee, I was singing “Popular”, and I just forgot the lyrics. They just went completely out of my head. So I’m standing there looking at her, bouncing like a lunatic, and she’s trying to remember what the heck they are, and not really helping, and so we just did that for a few bars until it got to the “la la” cross and I could get back on track. Talk about deer in the headlights! Thankfully, that has not happened again.
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to one day perform?
If they ever do a musical version of “Enchanted”, I would give my left pinky toe to play Giselle.
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Accept that it’s not fair. The sooner you accept that, the easier it will be. It will never be fair and you will always be wondering why, but if you can be even the tiniest bit Zen about it all, then you will be 1000% better off. Also, do something every day for your career, whether it’s rehearsing a song, going to an audition, asking someone a question about something, reading a play, going to see a show, anything! In this business that we have so little control over, it will make you feel like you are doing to keep on top of things for yourself. And always make sure your heart is in it, You have to love it, the good and the bad.
Check out these articles from the 1st National Tour Production’s stop in San Francisco, California. The tour plays San Francisco until February 17. For tickets, visit shnsf.com.
As Elphaba, Dee Roscioli sets a record – interview with Dee Roscioli (Elphaba) about playing the role of Elphaba over 1000 times
It has been announced that WICKED has set new Broadway and National Touring records again this year. In addition to being the number one show by grosses for nine years (a feat that no other show has yet accomplished), its grosses on the week of December 30, 2012 were $2,947,172, the highest one week of any Broadway show.
Additionally, on the same week, the second national tour’s stop in St. Louis has a gross of $2,755,070 broke the national touring highest weekly gross record, and the first national tour’s stop in Honolulu broke the theatre there’s record, with a total of $1,585,402.
It is worth mentioning that both the Broadway production and first national tour had a nine performance week, but even with other shows having the same in some cases, WICKED still came out on top in grosses.
Check out this video of 1st National Tour cast members Sarah Schenkkan (ensemble, u/s Glinda) and Carla Stickler (s/b Elphaba, u/s Nessarose) singing “For Good” at the Pali Momi Women’s Center donation presentation in Honolulu on November 25, 2012. The 1st National Tour Production donated $27,100 to the Pali Momi Women’s Center, which provides breast cancer care along with other services. The video was posted by YouTube user winie968p.