BWW Interview: Tom Flynn of WICKED at Saenger Theatre
If audience appeal is any indication of a show's worth, WICKED casts a spell that has created a multimillion-dollar treasure to the musical theatre world. With memorable music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a heartwarming book by Winnie Holzman, the production is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. WICKED's current national tour will fly into the Saegner Theatre in New Orleans from Oct. 2-20, 2019
The story takes us to the Land of Oz, but so much happened before Dorothy arrives in this prequel to the beloved classic Wizard of Oz. We meet Elphaba, aka, the Wicked Witch of the West, who becomes best friends with Galinda, later Glinda the Good, at Shiz University. Galinda vows to make Elphaba popular, but it does not spell out complete happiness for Elphaba, as her fellow Ozians fear her magical gifts and green skin.
And there's also "Something Bad" going on in Oz that puts one's ideas of good vs. evil to the test. BroadwayWorld.com had the pleasure to sit down with Tom Flynn who plays as Dr. Dillamond, a role which he also portrayed in the very first WICKED national tour as well as productions in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Flynn spoke to us about the current tour, his favorite WICKED moments, and the one thing he hopes for as he returns to New Orleans.
BWW.com: What is your background with WICKED?
Flynn: The first time I ever started with WICKED was January 2007, so 12 years ago. And I started in Providence, Rhode Island with the first national tour, then I was with the first national for a year and a half, and then they were closing the LA company - it was a sit down company - and then that was going to become the San Francisco company. So, in 2008, I closed the LA company and then went to San Francisco, and I was with that company for an entire year until 2010. I went back to the first national tour for like four of five months, and then I was on Broadway for two and a half years. Then I went back to the first national tour again off and on for the next year and a half, and then I closed that company in March 2015.
BWW.com: And how is the current tour going so far?
Flynn: Oh, it's great. You know WICKED is soft of a juggernaut so it's nice to always go and see packed houses and the same response that I experienced since the first time I did the show. It's an amazing show to be a part of.
BWW.com: With so much experience performing in the show what are some of the ways that you keep it fresh?
Flynn: You know every night the audience is different, every night the students on stage in the classroom scene are different, so you really don't have to work that hard to be honest. And, I think when you know something so well you don't have to worry about any of the mechanics and just walk onto the stage and be as open as possible and see where the scene goes. You must obviously accomplish certain things within the scene, but every night it's different. That's how it stays fresh.
BWW.com: Your character Dr. Dillamond, how would you say his role contributes to the story?
Flynn: Well he is the catalyst from which I think Elphaba starts her real journey of self-discovery and passion for what she cares about, right and wrong, and good and evil. Because I'm the one who lets her know that things aren't right here in Oz. There's something funny going on and I'm the one who lets her know that. And then in the next scene she sees that something really bad is happening because I have been fired and drugged off stage by two guards and I think that's a huge part of her wanting to set things right and do good.
BWW.com: What is your favorite moment from the show?
Flynn: There's a lot of them. One is without question the ending of Defying Gravity. It's spectacular. It's brilliantly written, it's brilliantly lit, it's brilliantly staged. And then the other is the opening of Act II when Glinda sings "Couldn't Be Happier," because there's just something about that song that is deeply plaintive and sad. She's singing "we couldn't be happier," and really no one is happy.
BWW.com What was your very first performance of WICKED like? How did you feel throughout the performance?
I had done other Broadway shows, but it had been a minute since I had been in a show that big and it's a little bit overwhelming when you first just step onto the stage, even in rehearsal, and you see just how massive the whole thing is. I was nervous, and got through it and don't remember much about it and that's fairly typical of a first-time performance. But I fell in very quickly as we all do because we're recreating roles, we're not creating them for the first time so it's a little bit of a shorter rehearsal process and you have to learn who you are, but also where to be. Everyone else who has been doing the show is moving in specific patterns and you have to know where you are on stage at any given time. That you can't make up. The character, the voice, the very being of you're playing can be different but where you're on stage has to be exactly the same.
BWW.com: What has been your favorite role you've ever played, and what is your dream role?
Flynn: Probably [Dr. Dillamond] I would say just because it's been so great on so many levels. Dream role...I'd say Malvolio in Twelfth Night.
BWW.com: Anything you would like to say to WICKED fans in New Orleans?
Flynn: I hope they have a fantastic time. I hope the generator doesn't go out like the last time I played New Orleans where we had to stop the show and the lights never came back. I love New Orleans, it's my favorite tour city and if anyone is out while I'm out eating food please say hello.