Erin James talks with Suzie Mathers – Wicked’s new Glinda.
It’s a fairytale story, really. From swing, to ensemble and understudy, to leading lady in one of musical theatre’s most successful blockbusters: WAAPA graduate Suzie Mathers is still reeling over her new role as Glinda, the good witch, in Wicked.
Originally an offstage vocal swing for the 2008 Melbourne production, Mathers was cast in Wicked straight out of drama school, and remained with the company until the beginning of the Sydney season in 2009.
After scoring the leading role in the Australian tour of Mamma Mia!, Mathers moved from one show to the next without so much as a weekend to recover.
A year with Mamma Mia!, and Suzie’s love for all things Ozian pulled her back to the Wicked company as an onstage ensemble performer (playing the role of the midwife), covering the leading role of Glinda. Three years on, with the Australian tour now completed, Suzie will step into the role of Glinda as the show embarks on it’s journey into Asia.
Keeping her big news under wraps has been hard for Mathers, but now the word is out, she can hardly believe it herself.
“I’ve known about the just before we started our season in Perth, so it’s been a few months. I’d gotten used to the idea, but it’s only now that it has started to become real – now the Australian tour has come to an end”, she laughs.
With approximately 15 people leaving the Wicked cast, the company will have 6 weeks off before beginning rehearsals again to teach the new cast the show.
“We will have about 3 weeks of rehearsals in Sydney before we transfer to Singapore”, Mathers explained.
With a sigh of relief, she added:
“It will be good to have 6 weeks off before the rehearsals start to be able to forget about the show and what I have heard 8 shows a week. I will have that time to make [the character] mine and be able to put more of me into the role, as opposed to what I already know to be the Australian Glinda”.
Mathers had performed the role of Glinda numerous times during the Australian tour, as understudy to Lucy Durack, who originated the role in Melbourne and has performed it for the last 3 years.
“As an understudy, you need to keep your performance as close as possible to the principle, so you don’t throw off other cast members. There are a lot of things that I have done as an understudy that worked for Lucy, but I would do differently”, she said.
Mathers explained she is looking forward to the upcoming rehearsal period so she can try out some of her own ideas about the character.
“It will be a challenge forgetting what I know and what I have heard and seen over the past 3 years, but that’s the fun part – having the challenge of having the role”, she said.
Mathers admits that there are pressures associated with taking on such a coveted role.
[pull_left]Yes, there is a lot of pressure in taking over a role that has so many fans, but it will be great to be the first time Glinda for Singapore[/pull_left]“Yes, there is a lot of pressure in taking over a role that has so many fans, but it will be great to be the first time Glinda for Singapore”, she said.
“We are going to be the first show to ever perform in the Grand Theatre at the Marina Bay Sands complex. It will be great to be part of that – and even though, I’m the ‘takeover Glinda’, in Asia, I’ll be the first”.
Suzie will be working with co-stars David Harris and Jemma Rix as Fiyero and Elphaba in the Singapore and Korea seasons of Wicked, both of whom she has performed with in Australia. “I rehearsed Glinda with David, when he joined the company and I rejoined. It made it easier when I had to go on [as Glinda] with him, because I knew exactly what he does”, she said.
This incredible opportunity is one which Suzie sees as both a challenge and an advancement in her career, there is something bitter-sweet about performing so far away from home.
“The hardest thing will be being overseas and performing this role away from family and friends”, said the Scottish-born, Perth-raised, Melbourne-based performer. When the show returns to Australia after the Asian and New Zealand tours, 27 year old Mathers will be first in line to play Glinda in Oz. But it all depends on timing, she says.
“I want to move to London – it’s one of the big things on my life plan I want to do before I’m 30”, she laughs.
There is no doubt Suzie Mathers will have success wherever she goes, be it Singapore, Korea or the dizzy heights of London. Let us ‘rejocify’ that Australian audiences have had the chance to see this talented young woman at work on our stages, our fingers are crossed that we see her in another leading role very soon.