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Defying Gravity: Wicked’s Jennifer DiNoia

We all grew up with the classic, The Wizard of Oz, but so much happened before Dorothy dropped into the land of Oz, which we learn about in the musical phenomenon, Wicked. The musical, composed by Stephen Schwartz, explains the untold story of Oz’s witches: Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. The Second National Tour has been here at Bass Concert Hall since February 18 and closes Sunday, March 9. Her Campus Texas chatted with actresses, Jennifer DiNoia, and Hayley Podschun, who portray “Elphaba” and “Glinda”, respectively, about their training, their Wicked audition process, and what it’s like playing these two such powerful women.

Jennifer DiNoia, who portrays “Elphaba”, shares her experiences, dreams, and advice with us.

 

 

Her Campus Texas: How did you start your musical theater training? 

Jennifer DiNoia: Although growing up as a dancer and one who did community theatre as a kid, I like to think my musical theatre training started when I began working professionally.  I went to college for a 1.5 years at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA as a dance major.  I moved to NY in Jan 2002 and was lucky enough to book my first professional gig, the First National Tour of Mamma Mia!, in February 2002.  From then on, I like to consider my years doing Mamma Mia!, We Will Rock You, Wicked, and other small projects, as my training.  You can never stop learning, that’s for sure!

HCTX: Describe the first time you saw Wicked.

JD: I saw Wicked for the first time in February 2006, when I was hired for the Chicago production as a dancer swing.  I watched the show and was in awe of every aspect of it.  I felt so much joy that I was going to be a part of it, and also some fear, since it was such a huge show!

HCTX: What was your audition process like for Wicked?

JN: I first auditioned for the show in NY in 2004.  I went to a dance call with a bunch of my friends but didn’t get a callback. I then went in for the show again in Los Angeles, while I was living in Vegas doing We Will Rock You in 2005.  I was then called about 8 months later to join the Chicago production in February 2006.  

HCTX: How many different companies have you performed with?

JN: The Second National Tour, which I’m on right now, is the fifth company of Wicked that I’ve done.  I did Chicago from 2006-2009, Broadway 2009-2011, Sydney, Australia in 2010, and Seoul, Korea in 2012.

HCTX: We’ve heard that you started your career as a dancer, how was the transition to such a demanding vocal role?

JN: It was definitely difficult.  It took a lot of time to learn how to sing in a healthy way.  You breathe so differently as a singer than as a dancer, and I think that took the most time to learn. I started taking voice lessons intensely once I started covering “Elphaba”.

HCTX: What is your regimen to stay vocally healthy? 

JN: My motto for playing this role is: “everything in moderation”.  Which I think is also a good motto for life as well.  I absolutely do take care of myself, BUT I allow myself to indulge every once in a while.  I think playing “Elphaba” is like being a marathon runner.  Once you are in the shape you need to be in to play this role, it becomes easier to gauge how you are feeling.  If I spent every day not speaking to anyone to save my voice or never indulging in a piece of pizza, I would drive myself crazy – which would definitely not work.  But I do the normal, good sleep, tea, and steaming – everyday.  

HCTX: What is the most valuable thing you have learned from Wicked? (As a performer, person, or both!)

JN: I have learned so much while being a part of this show on and off over the last eight years.  So much has happened to me personally and professionally.  I’ve mostly learned patience and acceptance.  As a performer, you are constantly criticizing yourself and others and comparing your journey to theirs.  I believe timing is everything and everything happens for a reason.  I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin off and onstage!  

HCTX: What is your favorite line/song of Wicked?

JN: This is always a hard question, because I love so much of the show and the songs.  I love singing “No Good Deed” because it’s so powerful and so wonderfully written.  I also love singing the line in “Defying Gravity”, “…it’s time to trust my instincts…”.  It’s one moment of Elphaba’s, that she makes a huge leap & decides to stick up for what she believes in.  It shows strength and courage, which are two things I love about this show and the characters in it.  

HCTX: Are you an Elphaba or a Glinda?

JN: I am absolutely an Elphaba!  

HCTX: What is your dream role?

JN: “Elphaba” always has been my dream role.  I would also LOVE to play a role that is as big as “Elphaba”, but where I can also use my dance background.  A role like, “Millie” in Thoroughly Modern Millie would be an ideal role. I love to tap! 

HCTX: What advice would you give to aspiring musical theater artists?

JNL I would advise an aspiring musical theatre artist to become as immersed in the arts as possible.  Go see every show, watch movies, listen to music, go to museums, etc. Just immerse yourself in anything that might inspire you or help you do research!  This will help you pull from real life moments while you’re performing onstage.  I also think it’s important to know that there is an element of building a tough exterior.  You are told NO way more than you are told YES and it can be a huge blow on your confidence, but you have to keep fighting.  Even after getting shows and roles, it’s a continuous fight.  There’s always that sense of “what’s next?” and “what do I need to do to become better?”, which all can be very difficult.  As long as you stay true to yourself and visualize you reaching those goals, dreams really can come true.

Photo Credits:

Innuendo Outuendo

Broadway Indianapolis

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