Life in Oz: Interview with WICKED star Ginna Claire Mason

WICKED “flies” into The Academy of Music Wednesday, July 26, 2017 for its highly anticipated return to Philadelphia. The musical is based on the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It follows the untold story of the Witches of Oz. Glinda and Elphaba are rivals who form an unlikely friendship. Ginna Claire Mason talks about her dream role as Glinda in the national touring production. [Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street] July 26-August 27, 2017kimmelcenter.org.

Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Ginna Claire Mason as Glinda in WICKED. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Debra Danese: How did you get your start in theatre and what was your first “big break”?

Ginna Claire Mason: My parents raised us on music theatre classics like The Sound of Music film and the Les Misérables soundtrack. So I think the theatre bug was planted early on. I played Little Miss Muffett in our first grade play, Goin’ Buggy. I was hooked on performing after that. I started to take singing, dancing and acting classes, attending drama camps, and auditioning for community theatre shows. Fast forward a lot of years, my “break” was right after I graduated from Elon University’s Music Theatre program. I was cast in the first national tour of Flashdance as “Gloria.” It was exciting to join the actors’ union and travel the country doing what I love!

DD: What was your first experience, or introduction, to WICKED?

GCM: I saw the original cast with my dad 13 years ago on Broadway. We were in the 4th row, and at intermission I turned and told him I would play Glinda someday. I got the t-shirt and the soundtrack, which played on repeat for years in my house. Thanks, dad!

DD: What is the most demanding part of playing Glinda?

GCM: The role definitely requires a lot vocally in regards to singing and speaking. In order to do eight shows a week, I have to be very disciplined about my voice. I sleep eight hours, drink lots of water and tea, warm up before each show, utilize a personal steamer, and take voice lessons every other week via Skype with my teacher, Deric Rosenblatt.

DD: WICKED is such a lavish production. What is it like backstage during a performance?

GCM: Very organized! The backstage comings and goings are just as choreographed as everything happening onstage. Everyone has specific tasks and timelines. Every costume has a

particular place to hang. Every prop is perfectly staged. That’s the only way to make such a massive touring production a success!

DD: What is a typical work day for you?

GCM: Sleep in, eat a healthy breakfast, run errands or go to rehearsal, go to the gym, late lunch, warm up for the show, do the show, eat a healthy meal, ice my body, shower and wind down. Repeat! On Saturdays and Sundays we have two shows each day! So that shakes up the routine a bit. I usually just spend the whole day at the theatre on the weekends.

DD: What other hobbies or interests do you enjoy during your down time?

GCM: I like to work out, read, cook, catch up with friends, and watch “Jane the Virgin.”

DD: What advice would you give to aspiring performers?

GCM: Dream big, and don’t stop! I also encourage young actors to go to great BFA Music Theater programs. I think the training and growth during those four years is foundational for a longstanding career. I’m a big fan of Elon’s program because it’s a liberal arts university with a conservatory style training. Therefore you will, of course, be singing and dancing and acting, but you’ll also study English and science and math. I think well-rounded people make well-rounded performers, and the more you can learn about the world, the better! Which is why, if you go there, you should take advantage of their amazing study abroad program.

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About the author

Debra Danese

Debra graduated with a degree in dance from the University of the Arts and also holds a B.A. in Arts Administration. She is accredited at the Master Level with the National Registry of Dance Educators. Debra has performed in Europe, Tokyo, Canada, and the Caribbean. She teaches and choreographs world-wide and has been an international guest artist in Switzerland, England, and Slovakia. Debra has been an Artist in Residence on five occasions in Norway where she showcased full length dance productions at the acclaimed Nordland Theatre. She has also presented an original dance production at the Elspe Festival in Germany. Debra has been featured in Dance, Dancer and Dance Teacher Magazines for her work in dance education. Additionally, she has been a contributing writer for Dance Studio Life Magazine since 2010.