Villains have the most fun, and it it seems that Wicked baddies Madame Morrible and The Wizard—played by Kim Ismay and Steven Pinder, respectively—are no different. We were able to sit down with the stars who play these colorful characters and they talk about what they really think of the roles they play and what they love most about the show.
Theater Fans Manila: As cast members and fans of “Wicked” yourselves, which parts of the show do you never get tired of?
Steven Pinder: I love some of the stuff that I’m not in, and I think that [Kim Ismay] was talking about—
Kim Ismay: Yes, Defying Gravity is just amazing. I love that.
Steven: Yeah, I love it when—we’ve got quite a big cast, there’s 31 of us— there’s about a good fifteen, sixteen of us performing, you know, some of the group numbers. That’s when I really, really realize the type of show we’re in. So, I like those bits like One Short Day.
Kim: I like watching the dancing in the Ozdust Ballroom. I always stand in the wings before coming in with the wand and watch the dancers because the lifts were extraordinary and everything is always done on a breath to get the dynamic. Sometimes everyone goes, (lets out breath) at the same time. There’s something really magical about hearing the effects of the dance. It’s like when you’re watching a ballet enough to hear the point shoes hit the floor. It’s the same when they all breathe, and when they all land, and when they jump, it’s just amazing. They’re amazing.
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Theater Fans Manila: How about the music? Which ones are your favorite—
Kim: Oh, I can’t choose!
Theater Fans Manila: Maybe which ones resonate the most with you?
Steven: I love No Good Deed. Don’t ask me why. I like [the song], there’s a good story. There’s a lot of storytelling in the songs, and I love [Jacqueline] Hughes, our Elphaba. She just— she sings these songs…
Kim: Rips it, doesn’t she?
Steven: Rips them out, yeah. Tells the story, you know? There’s a really angry witch on stage and really, the feel of it. I’m off stage then, I’m in the dressing room but I’ve been found to turn the tunnel way up just so I could listen to that. It’s a good one.
Kim: Yeah. I just listen to all of them. I can’t— I keep going through phases. I don’t know, I’m not really faithful to one song. I go out with all of them! You think, “Oh, I like that song the best.” I go through phases of, “Definitely For Good is my favorite.”, “Oh no, definitely One Short Day.”, “Oh no, definitely…”
Theater Fans Manila: All of them are winners, basically.
Kim: They are! They really are. There isn’t anything that I’d go, “Oh, I wish that wasn’t there.”
Theater Fans Manila: Have you guys met any of the other people who played the roles, like Miriam Margolyes?
Kim: I know several of them, in fact—
Theater Fans Manila: Do you guys ever talk about the role?
Kim: No, an actor never asks someone else how they play their role, or how they think you should play your role. You have to come to it fresh. I deliberately didn’t go to see the show before I came in for rehearsals. I’ve seen it, obviously. I saw it on Broadway. I saw Carol Shelley play it, and I saw the original cast. I saw Miriam do it.
Steven: Sam Kelly, I’ve seen.
Kim: I was very close friends with a couple of the Morribles. Louise Plowright, who we sadly lost, was a very good friend of mine.
Steven: Was she Morrible?
Kim: Yes, yes she was. The other tall Morrible. Morribles come in all shapes and sizes. I know Anita Dobson, who is playing at the moment. I know her quite well, but you have to bring your slant to the role, otherwise you copy somebody else. You copy what they did and you think, “Oh, that works, I’ll do that as well.” and then it’s not— it doesn’t come from the right place. It comes as a surface thing rather than an inspired thing.
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Theater Fans Manila: How do you go about building your own take on your characters? Anything about their personalities or characteristics that you enjoy portraying the most?
Steven: We’re baddies, aren’t we? (laughs)
Kim: I’m worse than you, I think. Although you’re pretty rubbish, aren’t you? You’re scary, aren’t you?
Steven: I’m a bit bad, yeah. He must’ve walked over a few bodies to build up the Emerald City. What do I look for? Yeah, you go into your character, different aspects of it to see how you play it. I think the audience loves it because there is a regiment on how you’re supposed to play the parts, but they can’t deny that it’s you that is playing it. You always give your twist to it, so if you go back in time, you see the different Morribles, as Kim was saying. The different Wizards. They’re all different shapes and sizes, different ages even.
Kim: Yeah, and they all bring a different energy and a different dynamic, different parts of themselves.
Steven: Yeah, yeah. I think unconsciously we do. I think there’s a happy-go-lucky thing to the Wizard in one way, and I think that’s one of the sort of manipulative ways of dealing with the other characters.
Kim: Because if he wasn’t a slightly dodgy character, he certainly wouldn’t condone what Morrible was doing.
Steven: No, no he wouldn’t be as malevolent, if that’s the right word.
Kim: I love that word. Malevolent.
Steven: It’s good to say that when you’re sober, yeah.
Theater Fans Manila: Finally, how would you describe your character in one word?
Kim: Psychopath. Or ambitious.
Steven: That’s right. That’s better.
Kim: Ambitious, but she has no conscience out of everybody. I mean, even the Wizard feels a little bit sorry.
Steven: Oh yeah. But, you’re giving away the end of it! He does feel. He does come face to face with his own—
Kim: He accepts his own misgivings and failings.
Kim: Everybody does a terrible— Even Nessa Rose is deeply flawed and she does something, but then she goes, “Please don’t leave me! Oh, I feel terrible! It’s awful!” but Morrible is… she doesn’t care. She does not care. Every time she tries to wriggle out of something, it’s not out of contrition, it’s out of trying to wriggle out of it. (laughs)
Make sure you don’t miss these wickedly devious characters come 2017. Wicked flies back to Manila starting February 2 at The Theater at Solaire. You can still buy tickets here.