Today, we are glad to bring you another exclusive interview of Broadway is Wicked. This time we have the honor to have Ms. Lesley McKinnell. This incredible actress is now portraying as the understudy to Glinda and Nessarose in the Second National Tour of Wicked.
Broadway is Wicked (BW): Who is really Lesley McKinnell? (beyond Wicked)
Lesley McKinnell (LM): I am someone who is a bit quirky, a little awkward, but loves to be silly. I think it works out well with me being an actor 🙂
BW: When did you know that your career was going to be acting?
LM: I think I sort of always knew that a career in the arts was in my future. There are many things that I was (and still am) interested in when I was growing up, such as writing, journalism, and law. But the stage always comes back to me, and I to the stage. It’s where I feel most comfortable and alive.
BW: How did you feel the first time you performed in front of an audience?
LM: The first time I was ever in front of an audience was at my church when I was 6 years old. Ironically, the song I was supposed to sing was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” But the night before the actual “show” at the dress rehearsal, I got so scared that I backed out! Needless to say, when I watched the performance while sitting in the audience the next night, I knew I would NEVER back out of being onstage again 🙂
BW: How did you come to audition for “Wicked” and what was the audition process like?
LM: I went to a couple auditions through my agent, but the one I booked was when I went in for the singer swing/Nessarose understudy for the 1st National Tour. They needed an immediate replacement, so it was the fastest audition process I’ve ever had! In less than 36 hours, I had my first audition, my call back, and then the actual call that I booked the job. Very magical and truly a dream come true!
BW: How is “Wicked” different from what you’ve done before?
LM: Well, it’s the first Equity contract I’ve ever done, so in that way it’s been a whole different experience from when I was non-union. But WICKED is such a special, unique phenomenon and so it’s been interesting and very rewarding to be apart of such a cultural fixation.
BW: Do you have a favorite moment in Wicked? A favorite song or scene? (As Glinda, Nesss or Ensemble)
LM: My favorite number in the whole show as any role in the show, is the opening number. I think it is so riveting and powerful, and it always gets my heart going. I also love watching the “money release” from the wings backstage- all the technical aspects going on is quite impressive and exciting!
BW: How did the roles you now understudy come about for you? Who do you prefer to portray?
LM: I went from the 1st national tour as a singer swing/Nessa U/S, to the 2nd National Tour to understudy Glinda. Libby Servias went to the San Francisco company to become the Glinda stand-by, and I was moved into her ensemble track/Glinda U/S after I auditioned. I love being in the ensemble every night, as well as doing Glinda or Nessa from time to time. All three are very rewarding and fun for different reasons!
LM: I cried in the bubble. It was such a dream come true and I couldn’t believe it was happening. Very grateful and happy 🙂
BW: You have also been in the First National Tour. How is the Second Nat Tour different from your previous experience in Wicked?
LM: There are too many things to mention, but at the end of the day Wicked is Wicked and every company puts on a fantastic, top-notch production!
BW: Why do you think the show has been so successful?
LM: I think WICKED truly speaks to the hearts of people. Everyone can relate to the feelings of the “green girl”- feeling out of place, feeling alone, feeling different. I think it spans such a broad and essentially human theme, that all realms of audiences members can understand and relate to it.
BW: Do you have any dream roles?
LM: Many! And whenever anyone asks me this, I can never remember what they are! Hmmm… I would love to play Clara in “The Light in the Piazza,” Eliza in “My Fair Lady,” Eponine in “Les Mis,” one of the female roles in “Jersey Boys,” pretty much anything Sondheim, too 🙂
BW: Which do you think are the key things to succeed in musical theatre?
It has to be relatable, it has to be somewhat realistic in its believability (since musicals are innately UNrealstic,) and the music has to be, well, good!
BW: Which what do you feel more identify with? Why? – Acting, singing or dancing?
LM: Singing and acting is definitely where I feel most comfortable. I love to dance, but I wish I were better at it!
BW: What would say to upcoming performers?
About…? Well, I always say if you love it, DO IT. But always be honest while you’re working your way into the professional world. Stay true to yourself and don’t fall into the trite traps that “showbiz” can sometimes throw out there. If you’re really meant to do it, you will.
THANK YOU Ms. Lesley McKinnell for a wonderful interview!!!!!!