Interview: Theatre Life with Lissa DeGuzman

The actress on how she got the role of Elphaba in the touring company of Wicked and more.

By: Dec. 16, 2022
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Interview: Theatre Life with Lissa DeGuzman
Lissa DeGuzman

Today's subject Lissa DeGuzman is currently living her theatre life on tour as the belting green faced witch Elphaba in Wicked. The show runs through January 22nd in the Opera House at Kennedy Center.

Lissa's Broadway credits include having an ape as a scene partner in King Kong and as a swing (VERY IMPORTANT JOB!!) in Disney's Aladdin. She also played Jasmine on the national tour of the latter.

Regional credits include Bliss at 5th Avenue Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof at the MUNY, Chasing Rainbows at Goodspeed Opera House, and West Side Story and Les Misérables at Studio Tenn.

As you might know, Elphaba is extremely hard on any singer's voice. It is even harder with a touring schedule that includes a five-show weekend. That is one show on Friday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday. Broadway only has one show on Sunday in comparison. Read on to see how Lissa stays vocally healthy.

For those who are Wicked devotees, Lissa joins a group of extremely talented women in a role that has joined the ranks of being iconic. Being in the company of Jessica Vosk (DC's last Elphaba) Dee Roscioli, Stephanie J. Block, and of course, Idina Menzel is something not to be taken lightly.

Grab some tickets and see Lissa DeGuzman defy all expectations in Wicked at Kennedy Center this holiday season. She is "Making Good" (let's see who gets that Wicked reference) and living her theatre life to the fullest.

At what age did you see your first stage production and were you hooked right then and there?

I remember seeing the tour of Dreamgirls in my hometown of Milwaukee WI. The costume change for the song "I Am Changing" was the moment I said to myself " I have to do this!".

Did you go to school for theatre?

I went to Belmont University in Nashville TN. I received my BFA in Musical Theatre there.

Interview: Theatre Life with Lissa DeGuzman
L-R Lissa DeGuzman and Greg Maheu in
the 2016 Studio Tenn production of West Side Story.
This was Lissa's professional performing debut.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

What was your first professional job as a performer?

It was at Studio Tenn which is now run by Patrick Cassidy. I got to do West Side Story at the Schermerhorn playing Maria under the direction of then Artistic Driector Matt Logan. That was a truly amazing step into the professional world.

How did you get your initial audition for Wicked?

It was a self-tape audition in November of 2021. I didn't hear anything until January 2022. They asked for a few more self-tapes which was then followed by two work sessions. I was then offered the tour and have been performing in it since March.

Interview: Theatre Life with Lissa DeGuzman
Lissa DeGuzman (flying high at center)
and the company of the national tour of Wicked.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

Is the process of being put into the show on tour the same as it is on Broadway meaning still only one put in rehearsal?

Yes, it is the same. The only exception is that you might you learn the show in one city and go on in the next.

Some tour venues are quite cavernous. Do you find you have to adjust your performance if you are playing in say a 4,000-seat venue versus one that is only 1800 seats?

I would say no. We have a sound check before we perform in each city. It helps the crew in how to mix the show in each venue and helps us in keeping our voices healthy, so we are not pushing too much.

Interview: Theatre Life with Lissa DeGuzman
Lissa DeGuzman in the national tour of Wicked.
Photo by Joan Marcus.

Unlike Broadway, most tours have a five-show weekend. How do you get through a five-show weekend with all the belting that Wicked requires?

Five show weekends are a quite the challenge but I'm up for it. I force myself to go to sleep within an hour of me getting home. I drink a lot of electrolytes and steam each night after the show and the next morning as well. I drink a lot of tea and in general do whatever I can to keep my voice healthy.

You were part of the Broadway production of King Kong. Can you please talk about that experience?

It was an amazing experience. Working with Kikko the puppet was life changing and unlike any other I've had. It took ten people to operate with three others operating his face and making the sounds. I got to climb him and run into his hand. Having a puppet as your scene partner was a learning experience. It was my Broadway debut, and the experience was something many people don't get to do.

Of all the cities you have played thus far with Wicked, do you have any favorites?

I love Chicago. It's close to my home. I love the food and the show has done a sit-down engagement there before so many people know it and love it.

Special Thanks to Kennedy Center's Director of Public Relations Brendan Padgett for his assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.




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