Wicked on Broadway: Talking to the 15 wonderful witches

We got up close and personal with all 15 emerald divas who played Elphaba in the Broadway smash Wicked.

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Eden Espinosa

Eden Espinosa Photograph: Joan Marcus (right)


Eden Espinosa (2003–04, 2006)


You performed in Wicked on and off, in and out of New York, between 2004 and 2010. What kept you coming back?
I think that every time I was asked to come back, I just felt like I still had stuff to learn. I was at a different point in my life every time I came back, so I had something different to offer, and new outlooks and portrayals of the story and the character. It’s honestly just a fulfilling role to play and I never got tired of it.

Do you have a favorite span of time that you played in?
Probably right in the beginning. I was in the original company, and that was a very new experience for me. And then also when I closed the L.A. company. Megan Hilty and I, who opened that company, came back to close it at the end. I think I felt [that] at that point, it was a complete maturation of me as a woman and my outlook on Elphaba.

Who is your favorite Glinda that you’ve performed with?
I have to say, they coincide with my two favorite eras. Performing with Kristin Chenoweth was just an amazing experience. She was so gracious with me. I was 25, and it was my first time performing on Broadway. And the Glinda I did it the longest with was Megan. She and I really developed a strong trust on- and offstage. So those two are my favorite. But I consider Megan my Glinda.

Is there any part of Elphaba that’s in you?
I relate to her in that I was made fun of and bullied a lot in school, so those scenes at the dance and when she’s been tricked into wearing the hat—those kind of things—I really connect, because I had those moments in my adolescence. I try to be like her in taking that leap and going against what everyone wants, to have the strength to go on her own path. I think that’s brave, and I think I’m like that—or at least, I try to be like that!

You released your debut album last year. Are there any Wicked songs that you like to perform in concert?
I recorded “I’m Not That Girl” on my album. I love it. It’s just a glimpse into Elphaba’s softer side, into her inner self. The version on my album is a very different version than the way it is in the show. But I always do that song. And a lot of time, depending on the venue and what kind of concert, I will do “Defying Gravity.”

But no flying, I assume.
The flying part I leave at home. [Laughs]

It’s a very tech-heavy show. Do you have any memorable tech glitches?
I do remember when I was a standby for Idina, this is the first onstage mishap that happened in my presence: Norbert Leo Butz [as Fiyero] would fly in on the rope, land on one knee and say, “Let the green girl go.” Usually after that, he’s supposed to stand up, but that particular time, I noticed he didn’t get up from the ground. It turned out that he had split his pants from front to back! I was laughing, and Kristin was laughing, and the audience was laughing. And my family was there, too!

So on the topic of Fiyero pants, who wore them best?
I’m going to say Derrick Williams. He just filled them out really nicely. And he’s on the taller side. He was a taller Fiyero, with a really masculine frame.

Wicked on Broadway: Tickets, reviews and video


  SLIDE SHOW: View all 15 Elphabas as one slide show

Users say

14 comments
taylor c
taylor c

I love what SJB said about her husband and his pants. Her and Sebastian were so cute in Wicked together.

Kenia
Kenia

Of course who watched Wicked usually prefer that one that you saw, I don't think someone got the luck of watching all of the from Broadway and UK versions. I've watched and listening some of them, and of course all are great, is Wicked they wouldn't choose a bad singer, but Idina Menzel's is the best with no doubt I'm in love with the book and of all actress she is the one that meke me belive in Elphaba, and she has the voice, THE voice, when you read the book where anyone else could sing after listening to Elphaba's voice is how we saty after listen to Idina's. It's all the package that makes her the best.

sherry
sherry

Jackie is beautiful and amazing inside and out!!

Kate
Kate

@maxii rose: because Kerry was in the original UK cast. She was Idina's understudy. Great article!

maxii rosee
maxii rosee

I thought that Idina had originated the role of Elphaba in the uk and us so why is Kerry saying that she was in the original wicked production at uk!!!

Andrew Wicked
Andrew Wicked

OMG! Only 15 Elphaba' s ?! Wow! #wickedrules

Louis
Louis

Willemijn was and still is the best Elphaba. I've seen her performing three times at Scheveingen in the Netherlands and it was three times Wicked! I hope to see her in London West End too.

Oos
Oos

What about kristy cates? She played Elphaba on broadway And on the Chicago production on was in the original cast!

Mariuca
Mariuca

The article is well written and the beautiful actress is so sweet, also! But! The girls actresses spoke about their roles as if the witches were fairies!OMG! The real witches are bad, evil and they do good only for themselves! Dont let the people be fooled! Thats a fairy who God would love to become true, maybe-I mean, the witches be so strong and their power put it in the service of another..but thats only a fairy..

James H
James H

I know this is the witches on broadway but I would love to hear what the witches around the world have to say to these questions, particularly the Australian witches.

Rachael
Rachael

Idina is AMAZING!!!!! FYI, Mandy you signed my Alphaba doll! She sits in my family room

Logan Stein
Logan Stein

A great and unique article. A fitting celebration on an important milestone for the show. How great to take a look back and realize that only 15 amazing actresses have had the privilege. How wonderful to see how the answers varied.

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