WICKED, the Broadway musical sensation, looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships…until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

Wicked, the musical, returns to Toronto from June 5 to July 21, 2024 at the Princess of Wales Theatre.

We had a chance to chat with both leads recently to learn more!

Wicked Musical - Mirvish - Toronto
Austen Danielle Bohmer (Glinda)

We all know Glinda as the “good witch” but also perceived initially as superficial and evolves. What do you find challenging about portraying Glinda and her personality?

Austen: I love this question. You know, I actually don’t think Glinda is superficial at her core. I think, as a young woman (Galinda!), she’s obsessed with being perceived as good. It’s important to her that she always be held in high esteem, that folks think of her in a positive light. She’s so obsessed with maintaining this perfect image she’s been conditioned to cultivate, that she has a hard time looking outside herself. Glinda’s friendship with Elphaba coaxes her to slowly recalibrate her understanding of morality. What is truly good might involve dissent, might involve moving against the grain, might require personal sacrifice. I think the most challenging part of playing Glinda, and what I love so dearly about her, is that this recalibration of her moral compass, a real internal wrestling, has to be alive from start to finish. And all underneath Glinda’s signature poise, humor, and effervescence. It’s an exhilarating kind of juggling.

Glinda also has a lot of comedic elements so, how do you balance that with the more serious aspects of your character?

Austen: Glinda is remarkably confident. She was raised as the center of attention so she doesn’t have any reason to question her own instincts! If she has a thought, even if it’s barely fleshed out, she will share it with gusto! It’s a lot of fun to embody someone so unfamiliar with self-consciousness, and then to track her journey as she becomes more aware of her impact on people – how she causes harm, how she makes people feel seen.

“Wicked” addresses the notion that people are not always what they seem. How is that reflected in your character?

Austen: Our sweet Glinda gal judges Elphaba quite harshly upon first meeting. And Elphaba judges Glinda, too! It is the miracle of the story that these two women allow themselves to discover what lies underneath these initial surface judgments. Glinda also has an innate trust of and reverence for authority figures. She doesn’t want to believe that someone holding power might not be telling the truth. I think she embodies a really important lesson: that we must consistently question the ideologies we’re indoctrinated into. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz might not be the loving leader you were taught he was. The green girl, who cannot help but wear her otherness, might be your perfect match afterall.

What is the most fun part of portraying Glinda?

Austen: I have so many favorite moments in the show, but they all support the growing friendship between Elphaba and Glinda. It’s a dream to ride around in a bubble and wear all of the iconic Susan Hilferty costumes. These things are the sweetest icing on the cake. But, I really treasure the scenes I share with my incredible Elphie, Lauren Samuels. We have real love and respect for each other and it makes the show all the more fun.

Anything you think is pretty interesting about this production that audiences might not realize?

Austen: Wicked is so special because it’s this wise parable, with real political and philosophical resonance, anchored by a moving female friendship, and all wrapped up in a spectacular, tuneful container. There are so many layers to it, and you can engage with it on whichever one you choose! It’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and I find it only accumulates relevance with time. And… it’s an excellent moment to see the show, because the movie comes out this Thanksgiving!

Wicked Musical - Toronto - Mirvish

Lauren Samuels (Elphaba)

You’ve been to the world of Oz before but as Dorothy. Now, Elphaba is such a great role to dive into. Looks like a lot of fun! What have you learned about your character that you didn’t know about prior to this production?

Lauren: Oh it is so much fun! Playing Elphaba is a whirlwind. She has such an interesting arch. Diving into the character there’s so much I didn’t know, she’s very complex. But I think the main thing that stood out through rehearsals was just how loyal she is to her own beliefs. She never wavers. Even if that means she’ll end up ostracized and alone, she stands strong to her beliefs.

What do you find most compelling about your character?

Lauren: Her unwavering ability to see the good in people, and the important message of not always taking what those in power say to be true.

For those who don’t know the story line, what can you tell them about your character?

Lauren: Ok without giving too much away… Wicked is the untold story of the Witches of Oz and Elphaba is its protagonist. She is the green-skinned daughter of the Governor of Munchkinland who has grown up with magical powers that she can’t explain or control. She dreams to one day meet The Wonderful Wizard of Oz who she hopes will “de-greenify” her skin so that she is no longer shunned by society. As things begin to unravel Elphaba goes on a journey of discovery examining the differences between right and wrong and what it actually means to “do good”.

Elphaba maybe considered the “wicked” of the two witches, but what can you tell us about her journey from being an outcast to becoming a powerful character in this storyline?

Lauren: Elphaba is an activist who constantly strives for what is right, even if, in doing so, she will be ostracized. Her growth throughout the musical is huge.

What’s your favourite song to perform and why?

Lauren: I think my favourite has become No Good Deed. I love how passionate and driven Elphaba is during this song, and how many emotions she battles through. The song is such a journey and I feel so powerful singing it.

You’re green in the production, how long does it take you to get ready…and how long does it take to remove all the makeup nightly?

Lauren: The full process from Lauren to Elphaba takes about 30 minutes. Our wonderful makeup supervisor Tishonna arrives in my dressing room at the half hour call, and she does such an amazing job on my face. Then Steven our head of wigs arrives at the 15 to get my hair ready. After the show I jump in the shower to begin the ‘de-greening’ process, and that takes me about 20 minutes. I’m hoping I can get it down to 15 soon!

Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Lauren: I feel so honoured each night to play Elphaba and to tell the empowering message of friendship between the two witches. This role is so iconic and it truly is a sisterhood. I have been so touched by all of the past and present Elphabas that have reached out to me. I love that I am now part of the sisterhood! I first saw Wicked when Idina Menzel opened the show in London’s West End and I said to my friend at the time, “I have to play that part!” – well it may have taken me 15 years, but here I am!

WICKED will be at Princess of Wales Theatre from June 5 to July 21 in Toronto. Tickets and more information can be found here.j

FYI, you may want to check out the last minute digital lottery for a chance to purchase up to a maximum of two (2) tickets at $30.75 per ticket, to a designated performance of Wicked. Visit lottery.mirvish.com for details.