Meet Elphaba: We talk all things Wicked ahead of Gold Coast run

Worldwide smash hit musical ‘Wicked’ has wowed audiences all over the world, and in June, a fresh new production of it will be flying into our very own HOTA, Home of the Arts for a limited run. Playing the iconic role of Elphaba is seasoned Sydney-based triple threat Samantha Dodemaide, in her first turn as the iconic “wicked” witch.

“I performed in ‘Wicked’ about ten years ago in Japan for 14 months in the ensemble. [Elphaba has] always been a role I wanted to play but I didn’t associate myself with this version, until Tim [Hill, director] asked if I wanted to audition,” says Sam.

And audition she did. Given the number of performers who tried out for the role, she wasn’t initially confident.

“I think they saw a LOT of people,” she laughs. “And from what I’ve heard about it, it’s a tricky role to cast, because there are lot of elements to it.”

Apart from the vocal chops to be able to belt out Broadway hits such as ‘Defying Gravity’, the role also demands an actress with a range broad enough to encompass all the aspects of the complicated character.

“I was really thrilled to get the call that I had the role,” Sam tells us. “Elphaba really defies a lot of things – not just gravity – she’s for women’s rights, she stands up to the hierarchy, the system. And then there’s the beautiful story of the love between friends and her and Fiyero, so it’s got all the elements that I’m drawn to.”

‘Wicked’ is unique in that its romantic love story is not the central relationship of the show, instead choosing to focus on the best-frenemies-style relationship between Elphaba and Glinda, the Good Witch, who is being played by Gold Coast local Emily Monsma.

“Emily and I only met at the photoshoot on publicity day at HOTA,” explains Sam. “But I’d already heard such beautiful things about her, and we got along fantastically. It’s a huge relief, because you hope there’s going to be a connection, it makes the job easier and the relationship on stage more truthful. Emily is so gorgeous and very talented so I’m excited to see what we come up with.”

In her career so far, Samantha has performed in such productions as ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, ‘Sweet Charity’, and most recently as ensemble member and Tina Arena’s understudy in ‘Evita’. But interestingly, it was her turn as Dorothy in the 2017-2018 tour of ‘Wizard of Oz’ that is considered her breakthrough role. She explains what it’s like to be on very much the other side of the story now.

“It’s interesting, because all the research I did for ‘Wizard of Oz’ will definitely be influencing how I feel about ‘Wicked’, but also it was the other way around, because I knew the ‘Wicked’ story when I went to play Dorothy, so I already saw the witch differently.”

“I guess rather than seeing her being completely wicked then I would watch and think, well, there is another side to her, and the story.”
As Gold Coast audiences will undoubtedly have a great time discovering. If one thing’s for sure, it’s that this show is gonna be magical.

‘Wicked – The Musical’ hits HOTA from 25 June to 6 July, so you’d better conjure up some tickets at hota.com.au before they all disappear.

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