In the musical WICKED, a lifetime of lessons can be learned from a certain fiery, emerald-green witch. This Pride Month, members of the WICKED community reflect on how the show’s remarkable story inspires them to defy gravity and be #WickedProud.
Mary Kate Morrissey, who starred as Elphaba on the WICKED national tour, says her character has inspired her both on and off the stage. “Playing Elphaba has helped me understand how to be brave enough to stand up for my beliefs. It didn’t matter who was against her, she was always fighting for those who needed help. She was always trying to liberate the unheard."
Everyone involved in WICKED, whether they're on stage, behind the scenes or in the audience, walks away with valuable life lessons. As Susan Sampliner, WICKED's Company Manager, puts it, the show reminds us that “love is unpredictable - the obvious match isn’t always the final result. When you look past the cover, there’s often a really great book inside that’s worth taking home and reading.” Most importantly, the show is a reminder to be #WickedProud both throughout this Pride month, and throughout our lives. WICKED continues to work alongside partners that teach love and inclusivity to all those involved. “I’m proud to be a part of a show that promotes tolerance and acceptance, and that partners with other agencies that work to make our world a better place - Broadway Cares, Broadway Green Alliance, Trevor Project, BullyBust and V-Day”.
Susan describes how the story has continued to impact its audiences over the years. “The journey of both witches is very inspiring,” Susan says. “I think our audiences feel that, if a green girl can find these powers and defy gravity, so can they - no matter what their individual issue is that makes them feel different or misunderstood.”
Craig Jessup, Makeup Supervisor, compares Elphaba to another iconic woman in history. “Elphaba reminds me of a woman named Sylvia Rivera, a trans woman who participated in the Stonewall Riots at 18 years of age, and 4 years later was booed off the mic at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Rally in 1973 for bringing awareness of trans rights to a crowd of mainly cis white gay men. She was vilified for standing up for herself and others, as Elphaba was in WICKED, but is now remembered historically for her bravery."
What can these women teach us about being #WickedProud? Craig says, “When standing up for a cause that is important to you, no matter the cause, what we learn from these women is that we MUST STAND UP. Many human rights leaders died before seeing their mission realized, but we know that their sacrifices got us where we are today, and I’m proud to work on a show where the lead character sacrifices everything for a cause she believes in.”
How has playing Elphaba made Mary Kate feel #WickedProud? “To me, being #WickedProud means being proud of the things that make us magic and never letting anybody BRING US DOWN. Like so many queer people, Elphaba was ostracized for being different, left her home to find a chosen family, broke free of expectations, and forged her own path. I think by seeing the juxtaposition of her strength, grit and power with her vulnerability and desire to be loved we can understand the basic human need to feel accepted.”
Jesse JP Johnson, Broadway's current Boq, is inspired by the message of self-love and acceptance. "WICKED shows us how to overcome the bullies that try to keep us down, and when you find your wings and fly it’s the best thing in the world. To me, being #WickedProud means to first and foremost love yourself and what makes you stand out from the crowd.”
These sentiments of pride and individuality are echoed throughout the production. “I have been so proud to work on a show where the producers have been consistently supportive of LGBTQ+ causes,” Craig reflects. “I realize there are places where queer people go to work and don’t feel safe and supported, and the fact that I get to go to work 6 days a week and know that I am, and that I’m even celebrated for the things that make me different, means everything to me.”
Feeling inspired? Don’t miss out on your chance to celebrate what makes you #WickedProud-- visit wickedthemusical.com for your tickets today!