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Wicked’ to play in South Bend

Tessa DeMers | Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Long before Dorothy, two young girls meet in the land of Oz. One born with emerald green skin is intelligent, fiery, and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious, and very popular. Wicked tells the story of how these two unlikely friends journey together to become the Wicked Witch of the West and her counterpart, Glinda the Good.

Based on the best-selling 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, this musical has won 35 major honors, including a Grammy Award and three Tonys. Globally, Wicked has amassed nearly $2.9 billion in ticket sales and has been seen by 36 million people in its nine-year history. 

This show is so popular in large part because of its amazing talent, its Tony Award-winning costumes, and its magnificent and captivating score by composer Stephen Shwartz (whose major works also include hit musicals such as Godspell and several Disney movies like Pocahontas and Enchanted). This show also provides a unique take on a “pre-Wizard of Oz” story, incorporating a fantastic message about how it is okay to be different and special, and that good things can often come out of bad ones.

Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, and staged by another Tony winner, Wayne Cilento, this production will be hitting The Morris on May 8th, and sticking around until May 19th. 

“The two-week run is the longest that we have had in South Bend,” says Kathy Boes, President of the Broadway Theatre League of South Bend, Inc., “and we expect an impressive influx of business at our local restaurants, hotels, retailers, and destinations.”

I was lucky enough to be able to interview a member of the cast who has a special connection to the South Bend community and to Notre Dame. The sister of a 2006 graduate, and born and raised on ND football, Bridie Carroll is very excited to be back in the Bend, for the first time for a non-sporting event. 

Having graduated with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from Boston Conservatory, a school with no athletics, or as Carroll said, “Their talents lie in other areas,” she said loved every time she got the opportunity to visit campus and attend a football game. Carroll said she always wished she could come back to campus for something longer than a football weekend. Now, in the national tour of Wicked, she is finally getting her wish. 

“There is something magical and spiritual about the campus,” Carroll said. “I feel so grateful to come back and be able to give something back to the South Bend community because they, and Notre Dame, gave so much to me and my family over the years.”

Because she has family friends in all aspects of Notre Dame, from administration staff to professors to members of the football team, Carroll said she sees the Notre Dame community as going a step beyond being a great university. 

“Friends become family,” she said. “It’s a really unique school that can do that.”

Although this will be her first time performing on a South Bend stage, she is no stranger to national tours. Though she appreciated that national tours offer an amazing opportunity to travel the country and perform a show that you love on stage every night, Carroll admitted that life on the road is sometimes difficult – and definitely “different.”

“You live in hotels and you get one day off a week,” says Carroll. “It’s hard to have a traditional life. It’s not a normal 9-to-5 job with the wife and kids and white picket fence. The cast and crew really become your family.”

Another plus of working in theater is getting to portray a character quite different from yourself. On stage, you can be anyone you want to be, even if you only want to be that person for a couple hours and then go back to being yourself. Carroll, for example, plays one of Glinda’s best friends. 

“I get to play a girly girl and a mean girl,” she reports. “It’s fun to be someone you’re not.”

Carroll also gets work with who’s become a close friend to her over the past eight years: Hayley Podschun, who plays Glinda the Good. Sometimes, it seems, art really does imitate life, and vice versa.

For its script, its music, cast, set, costumes, and of course its message, Wicked is a great show to see when you have all that extra time during senior week – or to catch with your family over Commencement weekend. It is an experience that you will never forget. 

Although the citizens of Oz all wear green, Carroll said she sometimes fantasizes about taking the production in a new direction for this particular tour stop. “I wish we could all come out in blue and gold. Go Irish!”