BWW Interviews: WICKED's Wonderful Wizard, Tim Kazurinsky
First of all, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with BroadwayWorld in Omaha!
Thank you! We are so excited to be coming to Omaha! We've heard wonderful things!
Let's start at the beginning of your career. Did you always know that you wanted to be a performer?
Oh boy! No. I was a late bloomer! *laughs*
Can you tell me a little about how you got your start as a performer and the turns your career has taken over the years?
I was a reporter in Pennsylvania, and then I was an ad man for years and years with Leo Burnett. Around age 27, to better present my commercials, I took a class at Second City in Chicago to get over my fear of presenting my storyboards. They actually offered me a job at Second City. It seemed like a fun thing to do, so I took it. I was at Second City for a couple years doing that, and then John Belushi saw me on stage and recommended me to the people at Saturday Night Live. Ridiculously, I got hired and went and did that for four years (1981-1984). After that, I kind of took a break from performing. I had adapted a David Mamet play called Sexual Perversity in Chicago, into a screenplay called About Last Night. It did well at the box office, so I ended up being a screenwriter for about the next 20 years, and didn't really act during that time. It wasn't until recently that I really came back to acting, when my friend from Second City, George Wendt, who was Norm in Cheers, wanted me to do The Odd Couple with him in a production down in Kansas City. We had a really great time, and I started getting back into acting. These last three years I've been acting up a storm, and I was lucky enough to be offered this part in Wicked, which has been amazing.
You've had a lot of success on stage and on screen, both in film and television. Are the any major differences between your experiences on stage and on camera? Do you prefer one to the other?
There are some major differences, but I love them all! You know, my daughter is in New Zealand on a one year work visa, and she's worried because she feels like she's traveling around there more than she is working. I tell her that one of the great things in life is wearing many hats. I tell her to have adventures and experience it all, which is how I have felt about all of my jobs. They have all been great adventures and have allowed me to put on a new hat and learn new things, which has been so fun!
Has there been a role over the years that you miss the most? Or is there one role or production that you consider to be your favorite?
There were some things that I did back on Saturday Night Live there were great fun. The Police Academy series that I did as Officer Sweetchuck was great fun, too! Right now, I'm absolutely loving being the Wizard in Wicked. I find myself thinking that this is the most fun I've had in 10 years. On the other hand, doing The Odd Couple with George Wendt was a riot, too. It's really too hard to pick. So I guess no, I don't have a favorite. I just like doing all of this stuff!
What's next for you?
Opera? *laughs* I don't know. I like to learn new things. We'll see.
Moving forward to your career today, how did you feel going in for your audition for Wicked? Had you seen the show before you auditioned?
Yes I did see the show before my audition. And honestly, I was a little nervous. I wasn't the most confident singer or dancer, but they gave me some training on the go and hired me! It's been great! And this cast is just unbelievable!
Speaking of the cast, I know there have been a few cast changes lately, as is pretty common with a show on the road and of this magnitude. How does the changing of cast members affect the show or cast dynamic?
You know, this cast is absolutely welcoming with new members. They were so welcoming when I joined the tour, and they really are a great group! You know, especially with Wicked, I've noticed that they tend to change out the principals more frequently than they change out the ensemble members. A number of the people in the ensemble have been with the show for years, but most of the principals, I believe, stay with the show for one stretch of the tour and then have some time off. It seems to help them not get too stale of comfortable in their roles, and some of them even come back from time to time and reprise their role, which still keeps it fresh for everybody. And even though there is a rehearsal process with new cast members, you do get a new energy and a new viewpoint/take on the role and it energizes the entire cast, really. Our current Elphaba, Emma Hunton, is brand new and is just terrific.
Most people today are familiar with The Wizard of Oz, if not already familiar with Wicked, so we know a bit about the Wizard. Can you tell us a little bit about the Wizard that you bring to life in the show?
Let's see... What can I give away and what can I not give away? *laughs* It's a little tricky because I don't want to tell people too much about what this character may or may not be really... What I will say is that I try make my take on the Wizard be a little more charming and funny so that the audience warms up to him more and like him more so that if he isn't really the man he appears to be, they might feel a little more betrayed.
Is there a part of the show that you look forward to most every performance?
You know, it's interesting you should ask. It's one of those shows where it's been so hyped up over the years, and when I finally saw it I just couldn't believe how amazing it really was and still is! When we were in Cincinnati I stopped over at a bar in the hotel between shows and a guy in there recognized me and said, "I have to tell you... My wife made me come see the show. That was the first play I've ever seen and it was phenomenal! I couldn't believe it!" That's kind of the way I felt when I saw this show, too. It lives up to everything!
I think the first scene I was kind of blown away by is when the audience is introduced to the Emerald City. All the lights, and the colors, and the costumes... It's spectacular stuff! It's just a magical moment and it transports the audience. And now that I'm in the show, I get to watch that scene every night from backstage before I come on for the first time, and it's just a great moment for me.
Another one is at the end with that touching moment between Chistery (the flying monkey) and Glinda. When he hands the little bottle to Glinda and actually says, "Glinda," it still puts a lump in my throat every night.
Closing up here, any last thoughts for our readers?
I guess I think that if some people think that it's a musical for a certain group of people, whether it be kids or girls or adults, it is so not that. It's an absolute treat for everyone. For anyone who has seen The Wizard of Oz, this show takes that classic, beloved story, and looks at it through a different pair of glasses. I think they will all be wowed by this show. Regardless of your age or gender, it's just a wonderful thing to behold. If you ever want to see a musical, this is the one to see.