Interview: Christian Thompson Says WICKED at Wharton Center is a Top-Notch Production With All the Magic You'd Expect

See the 20-Year Broadway hit at Wharton Center, now through May 28th.

By: May. 10, 2023
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Wicked
Christian Thompson as Fiyero in the National Tour of Wicked
Photo by Joan Marcus

Good news! Nearly 7 years after it was last at Wharton Center, the Broadway blockbuster Wicked is finally making its sweet return to East Lansing from May 10th through 28th. This fan-favorite show is based on The Wizard of Oz and tells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good. After premiering on Broadway in 2003, Wicked received 3 awards at the 2004 Tony Awards, and has been touring the continent ever since 2005.

BroadwayWorld Michigan had the pleasure of speaking with Christian Thompson, who plays Fiyero in the current national tour of Wicked. Read our conversation below!


Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your career in theatre?

I was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I decided I wanted to be an actor when I was 8 years old, and so I learned first through the public school program and then for high school I went to a private school for musical theatre. Then, I studied musical theatre at Penn State, where I graduated in 2015. I've been very fortunate since then. I did the 20th anniversary tour of Rent, I was part of the original Broadway cast of Ain't Too Proud, and I'm here now with Wicked.

What was your first exposure to Wicked?

I was in New York for a different trip and my mom and I had been very excited about Wicked because we were always a Wizard of Oz family. And my mom's favorite character was always the Wicked Witch of the West. So, when she heard that they were making a musical, she was very excited about the idea, she knew that I loved musicals and that this was going to be my career, so she thought it was a good way to connect with me. She brought me the book, we read it (probably a book a 9-year-old shouldn't have been reading), and I devoured it, loved it.

So, we were on this trip in New York, and we decided to play the lottery. We didn't win the first time, but my mom, being the superhero that she is, made me a deal that if we win for the evening show she'd move our flight to the next day so we could see it. And we did, we won the lotto. That was the first time I saw Wicked. I proceeded to become a superfan and saw it a lot more times.

At least on a surface level, just about everyone knows the basic story of Wicked. From the point of view of someone who is deeply involved in the show, what do you feel is at the heart of the Wicked story?

I think at the heart of the Wicked story for me is the battle between good and evil and how gray of an area that really is. I think it's about people trying to figure out what good and wicked means to them, and what they will do in order to be perceived as one or the other.

What role does your character, Fiyero, play in the story?

Fiyero is the Winkie prince, transfer student, who shows up and decides he is going to disrupt Shiz University and have some fun. In the process, he meets our two witches, Elphaba and Glinda, and becomes a romantic interest to both of them throughout the show. He is both an ally and someone to combat both of them and their ideas.

As a show with so many brilliant and iconic songs written by Stephen Schwartz, what is or are your favorites to watch / perform?

I mean my favorite, and it has been my favorite since I first heard this score, is "No Good Deed." I just think it's perfect. My first witch was Lissa deGuzman and now I'm with Olivia Valli, and they both just perform it with such power and incredible heart.

The sneaky one, now that I'm getting a little older, is "Thank Goodness." Specifically, the second half. The lyrics in that are so poignant and I think that sometimes we can miss them because they're wrapped in this story about fantasy and magic and such. Just the struggle that Glinda is going through about what happens when your dreams come true and what they actually look like, is just so powerful.

And of course, "Dancing Through Life." It's a blast. It's so much fun. It's really hard; I underestimated how difficult it would be to perform. It is definitely some of the most fun I've had on stage.

What is something about Wicked that a general audience member might not know?

Just how much freedom there is in creating your version of these characters. The creatives are so great with making sure that it's your version, that it is you, that you're bringing yourself to these characters. This is unheard of for a show that's been running for 20 years. Usually, you get a book that says you look left here, you scowl your face here, but sometimes in these rehearsals, it feels like we're creating a new show. They really want you to find what the honest moments are. That's one of the things that's kept Wicked fresh throughout its long history.

How does it feel to be a part of a Broadway touring musical with such deep roots in the theatre community?

It's a dream come true. Again, I was fortunate enough to tour with Rent, and that show was just beloved by the theatre community. It doesn't get old, the way people love this show, the people that show up in costume or color-themed. The Met Gala could never. It's such an honor. It might sound cliche, but it's so humbling to be a part of something so big. It helps you stay connected to the theatre fan in you.

What can longtime fans as well as newcomers to Wicked expect when they come to the show at Wharton Center?

I think they can expect the same expect the same magic they know or have heard of. The touring production does not lack in magic or talent in any way, shape or form. You are seeing a top-notch production of Wicked. You're in for a treat. You're going to leave moved.

Do you have any social media accounts that readers should follow?

Instagram: @christianthompsonactor

Lastly, is there anything else you would like readers to know about yourself, Wicked, or something else?

The big thing I keep harping on when I talk to people is just how lucky I feel to be a Black man in the role of Fiyero. I think representation is super important and I applaud everybody in this production to make Oz "just a little bit more colorful."


Tickets for Wicked are on sale now at Wharton Center's official ticketing outlets: online at whartoncenter.com, at the Auto-Owners Insurance Ticket Office at Wharton Center, or by calling 1-800-WHARTON.

To keep updated with Wicked as they travel around the country on their national tour, visit their website at wickedthemusical.com, and follow them on Twitter at @wicked_musical, on Instagram at @wicked_musical and on Facebook at facebook.com/Wickedthemusical.

Note: This interview has been edited for conciseness.




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