Today, we are thrilled to share an exclusive interview with Lesley McKinnell. Ms. McKinnell is currently a member of the 2nd National Touring Cast of “Wicked”, where she is in the ensemble and understudies the role of Glinda. Previously, she has been seen in the 1st National Touring Cast as a swing and understudy for Nessarose and the Midwife. 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 real professional acting job was in between my junior and senior years at college. It was “The Pirates of Penzance” at Musical Theatre West in Long Beach, CA. I gained my EMC card from the gig and I learned so much about being in a professional environment. It was a great experience!
What was your audition process for “Wicked” like?
I had gone in once in Los Angeles through my agent when I was still living there, but once I moved to New York in October 2008 I went in for the swing/Nessa cover position. I sang for them on a Thursday, had a dance call back on Friday and after I left the studio I got the call! It was magical!
What was your reaction when you found out you had been cast in the show?
My agent called me as I was getting out of the subway on West 4th street in the Village, and I collapsed to the ground and started screaming and crying. It was amazing.
Who was the first person you told that you had been cast? What was his/her reaction?
I called my parents right away and they were so shocked but so thrilled. My mom started crying, too!
What was your first performance like? What track were you in? How did you feel throughout the show?
The first track I performed in was the “Pfannee” track- which I’m sure you know is one of Glinda’s besties. It was exhilarating and scary to be thrown into the show but it was really fun, too.
As a swing, were you required to be able to perform all three vocal parts?
Yep! I covered both Soprano 1’s, Soprano 2’s and Alto.
As a swing, what was your favorite track to perform? Why?
I loved performing one of the Glinda besties- Shen Shen or Pfannee, because you get to have a bit of a feature and you get to be sassy and mean hehe! But each track I did was fun for its own special reasons.
What was your first performance as Nessarose like?
It was really fun! I didn’t really get a “put-in” for it, so it was a bit nerve-racking, but it all ended up ok in the end.
How did your move to understudying Glinda on the 2nd National Tour come about? How have rehearsals been thus far?
There was an opening in the track and I auditioned and they cast me. Very exciting! I feel very blessed to get to understudy the part. I have thus far had my put-in and it went pretty well, I think 🙂
Have you had to change any daily habits to protect your voice and body while in the show?
You always have to be careful and mindful of your body and voice. Just good rest, good exercise, good teas, etc 🙂
Have you witnessed – or perhaps been involved in – any onstage bloopers or mishaps that you’d like to share?
Ohhhh yes. Many. For instance, the bubble didn’t work the other night so we all had to go to “Plan B” if you can imagine what that was like 🙂
Are there any dream roles that you’d like to one day perform?
I would love to play Eponine in Les Mis, Penny in Hairspray, Eliza in My Fair Lady. Many other things, too!
What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
If you love it, DO IT.