BWW Interview: Rachel Womble of THE WIZARD OF OZ to Take the Fox Theatre by Storm
THE WIZARD OF OZ is, to this day, one of the most notable films of the 20th century. Released in 1939 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, it was praised for its use of Technicolor, cultural alliterations, beloved characters, special effects, and its star, the unparalleled Judy Garland. The film was based on Frank L. Baum's bestselling book of 1900, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, which was followed by the first musical adaptation in 1902. Updated musical productions followed in 1945 at the MUNY and in 1987 with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jeremy Sams released their own version of this classic in the West End, which borrowed the Oscar winning music from the film and featured original works by Webber, with additional lyrics by Tim Rice. After a successful US Tour in 2013, the most recent production started traveling in the fall of 2015 under the direction of Jeremy Sams and featuring innovative choreography by Arlene Phillips. This stunning production is stopping in Atlanta at the Fabulous Fox Theatre from June 21st to the 26th before its last two stops in Charlotte and Tampa.
Rachel Womble has had the pleasure and the challenge of tackling the iconic role of Glinda, a character that has been expanded since the 1939 film. She sat down to answer a few questions for our BWW readers about the challenges and victories of the creative team and performers in this production of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
_________________________________________________________How have you approached playing the role of Glinda the good?
Glinda has definitely been a dream role for me. This is such an iconic story, and to be able to play the "good" witch is just such an honor! It is really fun to get to be the one swooping in and saving the day! Also, I love the fact that I get to basically cover myself from head to toe in sparkling crystals. That is an added bonus.
There must be a lot of pressure in following such an iconic film onto the stage?
I think for a lot of my colleagues the comparison to the movie characters has been a challenge. However, I think for Glinda, Billie Burke just wasn't featured that much. Of course she was there, and she played an integral part, but she didn't have those really distinct moments that some of the other characters had. I think the audience was open to whatever spin I put on her. So I felt the freedom to create her, and give her some extra pizzazz! It was definitely informed though by what I imagine might have been included if she had had more screen time!
In your opinion, how did the production team take a piece that has been produced hundreds of times and make it fresh?
For the production team it was really a balance of giving the audience the moments they love from the movie, but also giving them something to be surprised by. There was a lot of talk in the rehearsal room about voices, moments, certain lines, and how they would relate to the movie. A fun aspect of our show that I think helps create some of those iconic moments is the use of projection. We have a lot of great scenes in the show that combine live theater with the magic of projection. It allows a real cyclone to blow across our Kansas set, and a large group of flying monkeys to kidnap Dorothy and send her flying across the stage. I think it brings together the best of both worlds!
What should audiences expect while heading to Atlanta's Fox Theatre to see the show?
We have some beautiful new music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that fleshes out many of the characters including Glinda! I have a beautiful added song towards the end of the show. It showcases the relationship between Dorothy and Glinda who is actually meant to represent Dorothy's mother. So I think it is an especially sweet moment when Glinda gets the chance to rescue her one more time.
RACHEL WOMBLE (Glinda) is thrilled to be making her National Tour debut! Training: Rice University (BA), NYU (MM). Favorite credits: Forum (Philia), 1776 (Martha), and Carousel (Julie). Special thanks to the Oz team, my family, Sam, and YOU for supporting live theatre! Psalm 37:4. rachelwomble.com
Visit wizardofozthemusical.com for more information and to purchase tickets.