BWW Interview: Helen Woolf On Playing Glinda In The WICKED Tour
Helen Woolf has just been announced as Glinda in the upcoming UK & Ireland tour of Wicked. We spoke to her at the press launch in Bristol (see the full story here), where the tour kicks off in January.
So you're a bit of a Wicked stalwart, aren't you?
I can't get enough of it apparently! I started back in 2013 with the original UK & Ireland tour. I had some time out, then went into the London company for the past three years. I left that in July, had a few months off, got married, and now I'm back for more!
You've played Glinda on many occasions, but does it feel different to own the part for the tour?
Yes, it's so exciting. I think when you're an understudy, there's always an element of stepping into somebody else's shoes, so to kind of have it for my own this time is great. I'm really looking forward to rehearsals and imagining that I haven't done it before and starting everything fresh.
I always think Glinda has some of the best lines in the show - do you enjoy that comedic element?
Yes! She has some absolute comedy gold that all comes from a really good place. The thing about Glinda is she's an innately good person, but doesn't always make the best decisions. I'd say things just come out of her mouth and she doesn't always think them through!
She grew up with the world sort of handed to her on a plate, so when she's not picked as the favourite student early on, she's taken aback and it's the first time she's faced a little bit of rejection.
Have you chatted with any of the other Glindas?
Absolutely, in London - Suzie [Mathers] and Savannah [Stevenson] I've worked with and they're absolutely wonderful. We're all a funny, similar bunch!
Lots of people online compare their favourite Glindas and Elphabas - do you ever think about that?
No, I never read stuff online - though that's tricky when you sometimes get direct tweets. I think it's hard, everyone has their own interpretation of her and not everyone will enjoy what you do, but you hope lots will! As long as you believe and trust that what you're doing is true to the character, then if someone doesn't like that interpretation there's not much you can do.
Are you looking forward getting out on the road?
Well, there's a few venues I've not been to before - like Bristol and Edinburgh - so I'm looking forward to visiting. I think the audiences are different outside of London.
How do they differ?
I don't know, I feel like the regional audiences are more enthused. Of course they love it in London too but when the curtain goes up on tour, you really feel it. I feel there's a generalisation that when a show goes on tour, it's sort of a cut-down version, but the minute Wicked starts, the audience know they're in for something special. You feel that instantly as a performer.
I see you're already signing autographs - how does that feel?
Haha yes, it's only little old me - I don't know what they're so fussed about! It's really exciting though, a lot of people who come to stage door are often quite young and frequently aspiring performers. One little girl, just now actually, asked me how I got started. Meeting those kids who look up to you is brilliant - you have to be that role model.
Are you pleased to be part of a show with two strong female leads?
100%. I'm not sure there's a similar show with two such strong female leads. Amy [Ross, who plays Elphaba] and I are polar opposites in terms of our characters on stage and we really get this buzz off each other. Instantly we've got this lovely chemistry that I'm looking forward to exploring.
Photo credit: Darren Bell