Interview: Tony Winner Ali Stroker is Excited to Perform 'As Long As You're Mine' as Part of WICKED IN CONCERT!

The star-studded special airs this Sunday, August 29th at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.

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PBS will mark Broadway's return with WICKED IN CONCERT, a musical event celebrating the songs from one of the most iconic hits in Broadway history.

This special performance will feature reimagined, never-before-heard musical arrangements created just for this broadcast, performed by celebrity artists from the worlds of film, pop music and television.

Whether you've listened to the Grammy Award-winning cast recording for years or are new to the world of Oz, you will fall in love with these extraordinary Broadway classics written by the incomparable composer Stephen Schwartz.

The evening is co-hosted by WICKED's original stars, Emmy and Tony Award-winner Kristin Chenoweth and Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel, with performances by Tony Award nominee and star of Sex and the City, Mario Cantone; Tony and Olivier Award-winning actor Gavin Creel; Tony Award nominee and star of the soon-to-be-released film West Side Story, Ariana DeBose; two-time Academy Award nominee and Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winner Cynthia Erivo; Stephanie Hsu of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; EGOT winner Rita Moreno; multi Grammy Award-winning country artist Jennifer Nettles; Grammy Award nominee and star of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Alex Newell; Grammy Award nominee and co-star of the upcoming film Dear Evan Hansen, Isaac Powell; Olivier Award-winner, Grammy Award nominee and star of Glee Amber Riley; star of TV's Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Gabrielle Ruiz; and Tony Award-winner and star of The Glee Project Ali Stroker.

BroadwayWorld had the pleasure of speaking to Stroker about performing "As Long As You're Mine" with a mystery duet partner as part of the special.

Groundbreaking performer Ali Stroker made history as the first actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of Anna in Deaf West's acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She continued her extraordinary career starring as Ado Annie in the most recent Broadway revival of Oklahoma!, winning a Tony Award for her performance.

After graduating from NYU Tisch, Stroker starred on 12 episodes of the talent competition, The Glee Project. She placed second and won a guest role on Fox's Glee. She then recurred in the Kyra Sedgwick ABC series, Ten Days in the Valley. She also guest starred on Fox's Lethal Weapon and CBS' Instinct.

Read the full interview below!

A core memory for me is your amazing performance of "Popular" on The Glee Project.

Oh my god!

I was so excited to see you on this cast list! Does being a part of Wicked: In Concert feel like a full circle moment for you?

Yes. I have been a huge fan of Wicked since I was in high school. I remember listening to the entire soundtrack and basically memorizing it before I went to even see it. And I just love the show, and have always just really, really been in love with the music. So when this opportunity came along, I was like, really?! Me?! Really?!

It's just an honor to get to sing a song from Wicked for this PBS special.

What was that call like for you?

I was just like, wow, really?! I think I just kept saying, really?! And then I was really excited about what song they chose. I didn't know what they were going to ask me to sing, so when they asked me to do a duet, I was really, really excited. "As Long As You're Mine" is one of my top three favorite songs from the show.

I've heard that there's all-new arrangements of the songs for this particular event. What is really exciting about this new arrangement of "As Long As You're Mine" that you're performing?

Any time you're given a new arrangement of a song, it's just an opportunity to kind of listen to how the song is the same and how the song is different. And I think that the storytelling in Stephen's music is so powerful that doing any kind of new arrangement is just an opportunity in so many ways to tell the story, and honor the music.

Is this your first time working directly with Stephen Schwartz?

No! I've known Stephen for a few years. He has been such a wonderful friend to me. I wrote a book recently called The Chance to Fly, and in the book, there's a girl in a wheelchair who is doing a production of Wicked. We had to get the rights to be able to talk about the show, and use some of the lyrics. And he's just been such a supportive person in my life. He is always so, so excited about what I'm doing, and rooting for me, and we've had some really cool, creative conversations as well over the years. I feel really grateful he's in my life.

Looking ahead to when we can hopefully start getting back onstage after this crazy time, what are your ambitions for the future of theatre, and what would you ideally like to be doing as part of it?

Theatre coming back is, first of all, essential. You can feel how much New York and our community is ready to have live theatre and Broadway back. I know that there's gonna be a lot of change, which I think is wonderful. We need to make some progress in certain areas, and I believe that we can do it, and we can do it in a really positive way.

I really hope to be back onstage soon! I did a show last night at Little Island, which is a new venue, and it was just so - for me, there's nothing else in the world like performing live for an audience. And you know it's never going to happen again - that moment is so precious, and I don't take it for granted, because I've missed it so much over the past year and a half.

What has your life looked like over the past year as a performer? I know you've done some solo concerts virtually and this Wicked benefit. What has it been like to navigate the COVID restrictions of it all?

It's been tricky, and it's been challenging. I think that I've tried to stay creative in all different ways, and do these solo gigs and speaking gigs. I've been taking classes and trying to stay connected to my purpose, and the love of performing.

But it's certainly been difficult. And I think, more than anything, I miss the community. You know? Everybody sort of being able to see each other perform, and support each other in what they're doing, and root for each other. We can do that through social media and that kind of way, but it's different than being able to see someone, or run into somebody in Midtown, and just celebrate them for a second and say hi. All of those sort of moments that, again, I took for granted, and now feel so excited to get back to seeing everybody and being a part of that community in person.

Could you tell me one thing you're really excited for audiences to see when they watch this new Wicked special?

I think I'm really excited for audiences to see these beautiful performances from people who haven't necessarily played the roles on Broadway, but are singing and performing the music from Wicked. It's just such a special and cool idea.



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