This month, the traveling troupe of Wicked is coming to Grand Rapids for a three-week round of performances — a dream come true for our mid-sized city. Not only are fans already buying out tickets for the shows, but the cast is excited to be here too.
“We sit in each place each time, so we get a little bit acclimated to the city,” said Jon Hall, the actor playing Fiyero. “It’s kind of like we move in. We’re month-to-month in different cities and that’s actually really nice, because most tours don’t get that luxury.”
Besides being able to travel the United States, Hall is also living out his dreams of being in the cast of Wicked. Hall, now 30, saw the show 10 years ago with his family in London and fell in love.
“I remember watching it and just being enamored with the witches, especially Elphaba,” Hall said. “At intermission, when she finished her big note, I got chills. And I was like, ‘Wow. I want to be in this.’”
Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz and how they became who they are, based on a novel by Gregory Maguire. The show’s book, by Winnie Holzman, was turned into a musical by Stephen Schwartz, premiering on Broadway in 2003. The story begins long before Dorothy’s arrival to Oz and centers on two unlikely friends: Elphaba, who eventually becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, and Galinda, who becomes Glinda the Good Witch.
“Just the message that Wicked gives is so great — it’s so universal and timeless,” Hall said. “(It teaches the values of) what friendship is, and not judging a book by its cover, and not judging a person by the color of her skin.”
Hall’s character, Fiyero, is Elphaba’s love interest.
“It’s a tough character to play in the show because he’s in and out a lot,” Hall said. He described his character as being very relaxed and without worry at the beginning. But throughout the show, Fiyero grows and becomes more interesting.
“He’s enjoying life without having to think about the stresses of it. I think Glinda brings something out of Fiyero that Elphaba doesn’t, and vice versa,” Hall said. “And then he becomes the scarecrow at the end, which is really crazy. There’s so much foreshadowing of that happening, because in the beginning he comes out, ‘Don’t think, think less.’ And then ultimately he can think, but he has no brain, because he becomes the scarecrow.”
Hall said anyone of any age or background can see this show and leave feeling inspired.
“You get chills,” Hall said. “You cry, you laugh — it’s got everything and it is incredibly entertaining, and the music is the best.
“Every night that I’m backstage listening to Defying Gravity, I get chills because it’s so iconic and so beautiful.”
Hall said it means a lot to him to be a part of Wicked, and that actors always want a job like he has now, but can never really count on it to happen.
“As an actor, there’s so much time, place, chance, luck … and when it comes, it’s almost like you don’t believe it,” Hall said. “For me, I’m still processing that I’m doing this role but I’m absolutely so grateful, so thrilled that I get to do it every night.”
Meghan Distel, director of marketing and public relations for Broadway Grand Rapids, said this is the first time Wicked is being shown in Grand Rapids. It will be on stage for three weeks, totaling 24 performances.
In each city the cast performs in, Hall said it’s an honor to bring the show to the people.
“We know how expensive it is,” he said, laughing. “But we also know what it means to give these beautiful songs life and knowing the way the world is right now, the way things are going politically and everything, it’s really nice to be able to sit down in a theater and feel something. And that’s what I love that we get to do every night, give that to the city we’re in.”
Broadway Grand Rapids
DeVos Performance Hall
303 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids
Oct. 18-Nov. 5, $49
broadwaygrandrapids.com, (616) 235-6285