Something ‘Wicked’ this way comesEntertainment Feature, Entertainment News, Section 4A Thursday, October 30th, 2014
San Diego favorite Kevin McMahon (Elphaba’s father) talks to San Diego LGBT Weekly
Many might say that if you haven’t heard of the Tony Award winning musical Wicked, that you must have been living under a rock for the last 11 years. But if for some reason a house has unexpectedly dropped on you and you don’t know about Wicked the musical, here’s a brief rundown of the show.
In 1995, Gregory Maguire wrote the book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It is an alternative telling of the film The Wizard Of Oz and L. Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maguire’s book focused on why the Wicked Witch of the West was deemed wicked. What made her wicked? What drove her to terrorize Oz and poor little Dorothy of Kansas?
Maguire looks into the relationship between the ever so popular Glinda and how she and Elphaba (eventually The Wicked Witch of the West) become friends in school. They form a bond, and unlikely friendship that will stand the test of time.
Maguire’s book may not have won any writing awards but it did attract the attention of composer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin), who turned Maguire’s book into a Broadway smash.
Wicked has broken box office records around the world, has spawned many worldwide productions and is the 11th longest running musical currently on Broadway. The National Tour, coming to town again, has been seen by over two million theatergoers.
Broadway San Diego will present the Broadway and Tony Award winning musical Wicked from Nov. 12 through Dec. 7. And if past ticket sales are any indication of how fast tickets will go, you may want to plan ahead.
The tour will have all of the bells and whistles the Broadway show has, and will boast a cast with just as much talent, including San Diego favorite Kevin McMahon.
McMahon, best known to San Diego audiences as the shy and nose-bleeding Jinx in the long running hit Forever Plaid, plays Elphaba’s father. He joined the cast back in 2008 and not only plays Elphaba’s father but also covers the Wizard himself.
Like most working actors, he got the news of the tour while working another job.
“Right before I went out on Wicked I had returned from doing Pirelli in Sweeney Todd up in Sacramento,” McMahon said. “The actor who played Sweeney in that production, Mark Jacoby, later joined us on tour as the Wizard.”
His introduction to the show was fast and furious, with only ten days of rehearsal to learn his part as Elphaba’s father. Then, he stepped onstage into one of the best known musicals of all time. Soon after that he had to learn his understudy assignments as The Wizard and Dr. Dillamond.
“I had about a week for each role,” MacMahon confided. “I went on for Dr. Dillamond in my second city and for the Wizard the city after that. The first time on in an understudy role is usually like being shot out of a canon. Although you’ve rehearsed the role with the other understudies, you probably have not done it with the actors you are going on with that night. You are making discoveries and choices in front of a full house. It’s thrilling really.”
With the opportunity to play such key roles, McMahon admits, he does have a favorite role to play.
“Of course, it’s always wonderful to go on in one of my covers (Wizard and Dr. Dillamond),” McMahon confided. “But to be honest, I love the roles I play on a regular basis (Father/Ozian Official, etc.) I’m actually busier on stage in those roles and it also allows me to interact with the company. In the other roles, you are a bit isolated.”
Like most fans of the show McMahon offered what he thought made the show resonate with so many people.
“[There are] a couple of reasons,” McMahon said. “First it’s the iconic material that the musical draws its source from. Gregory Maguire tapped into something special when he wondered how the Wicked Witch became “wicked”. Going further, Winnie Holzman’s book to the musical draws from the best parts of the book and is smart and funny. Then there is Stephen Schwartz’s score which has become part of pop culture, but most significant I think is the theme of the outsider triumphing.”
McMahon has been with his current cast for some time now, but has had the chance to work with many different actors in the roles of Elphaba, Glinda and the Wizard.
“Of course, the cast I’m currently working with is always my favorite,” McMahon confided. “But I’ve worked with some pretty amazing actors on this show. In no particular order: Nicole Parker (Elphaba) for her ability to bring such honest humor to the role, Dee Roscioli (Elphaba) for being an all around rock star, Ali Mauzey (Glinda) for being one of the bravest comic actors I’ve ever worked with – she’ll try anything, and the aforementioned Mark Jacoby as the Wizard and Jane Houdyshell as Morrible stand out for their unique takes on those roles.”
McMahon, now resides in Los Angeles, but is thrilled to be back in his old stomping grounds of San Diego. The actor, who was recently married to his partner of 29 years, is looking forward to spending some quality time with family and loved ones. He was also quite the actor about town for many years here before heading off to The Land of Oz.
“My first role here was as Jinx in Forever Plaid at the theater in Old Town back in 1999,” McMahon said. “I said I would do it for six months and ended up staying for over two years. That experience not only brought me into the ‘Plaid Brotherhood,’ but started relationships with many of the wonderful people and theaters here in San Diego. Then coming back: Cocky in Roar of the Greasepaint with Starlight (just to sing that score with a full orchestra – airplanes overhead and all) and Malcolm in The Full Monty with San Diego Musical Theatre for the joy that show brings to the cast and audience alike.”
Wicked plays Nov. 12 – Dec. 7 at the San Diego Civic Theatre. For tickets, call the box office at 619-570-1100 or visit broadwaysd.com
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