BWW Interview: Kara Lindsay Talks Conquering the High Notes as WICKED's Newest Glinda!
WICKED just welcomed new cast members to the Gershwin Theatre last month. Caroline Bowman (Kinky Boots, Eva in the Broadway revival tour of Evita) stepped into the role of Elphaba, and Kara Lindsay (original cast of Broadway's Newsies) assumed the role of Glinda, directly from playing the role on national tour. Kathy Fitzgerald returned to the Broadway company as Madame Morrible, a role she has played on Broadway and on national tour, and Matt Shingledecker (West Side Story) assumed the role of Fiyero. Two-time Tony Award Nominee Robin de Jesus (In the Heights, La Cage Aux Folles) stepped into the role of Boq.
Lindsay recently chatted with BroadwayWorld about her take on Glinda, the challenges of the role, and so much more. Check out the full interview below! Check back tomorrow to read BroadwayWorld's interview with her WICKED counterpart, Caroline Bowman!
You've been in the show for almost a month now! How has it been going so far?
It's incredible! It all happened really quickly. We joined during the holidays, so that was hectic, but we had so much adrenaline going. It was a big group of us too; it was me, Caroline [Bowman], Kathy [Fitzgerald], Matt [Shindledecker], and Robin [de Jesus]. That was fun, because we all got to rehearse together before going in the show. We got to build a relationship with each other first, which was really helpful.
This has become a beloved Broadway role... what's your personal take on Glinda?
It was really helpful to be able to see so many other women get to do the role. It has actually informed my show a lot too. I saw Megan Hilty do it because I went to school with her and I looked up to her so much. She was a senior when I was a freshman. She brought so much of her to it, and of course you have to do that as an actor. You are essentially you. You can't take that away. You have to find parts of yourself to bring to the role to make it honest. And that's what I saw her do. Of course you have to be that bubbly blonde, which is so essential to what Glinda is. What's so great about watching Elphaba and Glinda is that they are complete opposites, just by looking at them. To watch their friendship grow is so special.
How I play her is to find parts of myself that are like her and cling to that. I am silly. My mom and sister came to see the show for the first time on tour and they said, "You were just being crazy Kara!" It helps me to hopefully bring a little bit of truth to her, because I think that sometimes she can seem like not a real person. I think the story works best when she is real though, and when she has heart. You don't just see someone trying to be something else.
You're coming fresh from the tour! Was that a fun experience for you?
Well it's very exciting to be here now because I get to be home with my husband! We've been doing long-distance, which we all know and do in this business, so we aren't foreign to it. Because I was on tour though, he was able to come and see me in these neat cities and we were able to explore these places that we wouldn't normally get to go to... or think to go to. That part of tour was so wonderful, and of course the people are so wonderful. Tour was amazing.
There's nothing like being home though. And to get to do it on Broadway is crazy. I can't believe that I get to do this! Honestly, seeing this show ten years ago, I never thought I'd be doing this. I'm so grateful. Sometimes when I'm up in that bubble and about to come in, I think, "I can't believe I'm allowed to do this!" I'm not a typical Glinda. I have brown hair and I'm Italian! I don't think they would normally cast someone as dark as I am, so I feel so lucky. This is the most fun I've had with a role... ever.
The show has been around for long enough that many people who come to see it already think they know who Glinda is. Does that add an extra pressure in performing her every night?
Kind of. I think that everyone has an idea of what they want the show to be. And if they haven't seen the show and have only heard the cast recording, your imagination is way better than what real life can ever be. So you hope to live up to what they've dreamed up. I think so many people do cling to the story. Caroline and I always talk about how our goal is to hopefully just inspire one person, then we've done our job. It's such an inspiring story and we hope to just do that. There are expectations and ideas of what Glinda and Elphaba should be, but we can only do our best to do our show. We can just be as honest and truthful as we can.
Is there an aspect of the performing this role that is more difficult than you expected it to be?
This has been the most fun AND challenging thing I've done ever. I think that's really exciting to do something that you're afraid of though. It's exhilarating. When I first started on tour, I was terrified. [Laughs] I haven't been singing soprano in quite a long time. I didn't even know that she sang a High C. I mean, I've obviously listened to the cast recording, but I didn't realize that she sang a High C in "Thank Goodness." I didn't have to do it in the audition, so I was like, "Ok, everything's fine." And then I saw it in the score and I was like, "I really hope that's optional!" And when I was learning it, it wasn't an option. [Laughs] I went to see Joan Lader for it and she helped me through my fears.
I have a really long story of a West Side Story audition that I had back when I first graduated. It was for the international tour and I was auditioning for Maria. There was a High C and I knew I couldn't do it, but I tried because I was very eager. I went for it and I had this really crazy crack. I did it over and over again and I scared the crap out of the panel. [Laughs] So I have a really big fear of singing high soprano and now I do it every night! I've been getting over it though. It's amazing how you can really teach yourself things that you didn't think you were able to do. I didn't think my voice could do that. It felt like it wouldn't. But the more you work on it the better you get. Over tour I cracked quite a bit, but they forgave me!
You get to work very closely with the show's new Elphaba, Caroline. Did you guys get a chance to bond since rehearsals began?
We new each other prior to this, but we didn't know each other well. You work so closely when you play these witches and it's so important to have that bond outside of the show. It informs the show too. You are so together. She is awesome in every way. She's a light. I watch her "No Good Deed" every single night. Where I enter I can wait sooner, so I go earlier so that I can watch her. I sometimes cry! She's amazing; an incredible performer and so brilliant. She always inspires me in that way, but also she is an amazing person. We share the same values, we talk about life, and our hopes and fears. She has become a great friend and we're only gonna get closer! It's already been a month and I already feel so close to her. Sometimes we send each other video messages right before the show... even though she's right across the hall from me. [Laughs] I'm a big fan of Caroline.
Do you have favorite moment onstage moment yet?
I love "For Good." I've actually always said that. It's such an honest moment. The show has all of these amazing choreography moments and scenic moments. There are so many big, belty things that are exciting to watch, but this is just a really human, honest moment between two best friends. It also ties the whole story together. You can kinda feel, when everything has gone right, that the audience is really with you in that moment. They are so quiet. There's no rattling of potato chip bags. It's silent. I love that!
Lindsay just came from the National Tour of Wicked (Glinda). Broadway: Newsies (Katherine) Original Cast. National Tour/ Guthrie:Little House on the Prairie (Laura). Paper Mill Playhouse: Newsies, Little House...Prairie. Kansas City Starlight: Cinderella (Cinderella). Kansas City Rep: Cabaret (Sally Bowles). 5th Avenue: Lone Star Love (Miss Anne Page). GeVa Theater: A Christmas Carol (Belle). BFA Carnegie Mellon University.
Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked has music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, and a book by Winnie Holzman. The production is directed by Joe Mantello with musical staging by Wayne Cilento. Wicked is produced by Marc Platt, Universal Pictures, The Araca Group, Jon B. Platt and David Stone.
Winner of over 100 international awards including the Grammy Award and three Tony Awards, Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz. Long before Dorothy drops in, two other girls meet in the land of Oz. One, born with emerald-green skin, is smart, fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious and very popular. Wicked tells the story of their remarkable odyssey, how these two unlikely friends grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus