Not So Wicked

 In Culture, Feature

The good witch shares some insight into being the popular one


Even off the stage, Jeanna de Waal exudes a charm and charisma that perfectly suits her role as the social butter? y, Glinda, in the 2012 production of “Wicked.” The show opens at The Fox Theatre on Dec. 12, its fourth St. Louis run in six years. Born in Germany, bred in England and now based in New York City, de Waal has been living and breathing theater since age 11. ALIVE picks her brain about some of her favorite roles in her career, what makes the good witch so good and being part of a story that has enchanted millions.

ALIVE: What do you think about “Wicked’s” take on the traditional “Wizard of Oz” story and, in particular, on Glinda?

JEANNA DE WAAL: Well, “The Wizard of Oz” is really Dorothy’s story, and the witches are just sort of a part of her story. One is good, and one is evil—and that distinction is very clear. I like that “Wicked” is the girls’ story, and you see the [shades of] gray in how people become the way they are. It also debates what is good and what is evil. I think it’s a very different outcome than what “The Wizard of Oz” decides.

ALIVE: Have you ever read “Wicked” or any of Gregory Maguire’s other books?

I didn’t. I read little bits of it when I started practicing, but I had never read it before auditioning for the show. I plan to read it once I ?nish the contract. I know that it’s supposed to be a lot darker of a story in the book. The storylines are based on that, but they are different in the musical.

ALIVE: What do you enjoy most about the character of Glinda?

Until she starts to grow up and things start to unravel in life, I like that from the onset she greets everything with a positive reaction. She has a good heart, and she greets everything with a smile—and is a generally happy person because
of it.

Why do think this particular musical has resonated so well with audiences over the last 10 years?

Whether you told this story in a small play or a big musical, I think people would connect with it. It has so many levels. Then, you add on top the spectacle of the show with the lights, sound, music and singing—[which sometimes is more like] vocal gymnastics. Even if one part of the show failed, it would still be a huge success. The whole thing is worked out so well; there’s not really a weak link.

What is your favorite song?

“No Good Deed.” When Christine Dwyer [as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch] does it, it’s just sort of electrifying. It takes your breath away.

What have been some of your favorite roles in your career so far?

I have to say “American Idiot,” because even though my role wasn’t that big in comparison to Glinda, it was the ?rst lead I ever played. When I joined, it was about the same time that Billie Joe Armstrong, the lead singer of Green
Day, joined and I had a duet with him. It was so great getting to see who Billie Joe Armstrong was. Yes, he’s a rock star and an incredibly talented individual, but he was also so generous and incredibly warm to the people around him. It’s good to know that you can have everything and have a career like he does, but still keep your family life and your friends. He was just such an inspiration, in every way, to work with.

You also recently performed in the musical “Carrie.”

My role was as Chris Hargensen, the high school bully and the one who coordinates the whole thing—gets the pig and dumps the blood. I had never
before created a show. I had always taken over a role, which means the show is very much established. So it was a challenge, but one I really enjoyed, [to be] creating a role during the workshop stages. In that way, I felt very ful? lled in terms of being creative every day and bringing ideas to rehearsals.

Are there any roles that you’d really like to play one day?

Oh gosh, there are lots. A lot of my dream roles would ? t more when I’m in my 30s. But I would love to one day play Queenie in “The Wild Party,” and play the lead in “Funny Girl.” I love that show so much. I would also like to be in “Sunday in the Park with George.” That’s another one of my favorites.



Jeanna de Waal of Wicked


Photo credit: courtesy of Fox Theater

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