Wicked Star Alexandra Billings on Bringing Oz Back to Broadway

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Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Since Governor Cuomo announced the return of Broadway performances beginning in September, shows including Come From Away, TINA: The Tina Turner Musical, Chicago, Jagged Little Pill, and Ain’t Too Proud have announced their returns and newcomers like Caroline, or Change, Birthday Candles, and 1776 have announced premiere dates.

This morning on Good Morning America, three of Broadway’s biggest hits—Wicked, The Lion King, and Hamilton—announced their own returns, with a shared re-opening night of September 14. Tickets for all three shows are on sale now.

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Wicked, which has run since 2003 and won three Tony Awards and a Grammy Award, feels particularly suited for the moment. “It’s an incredible time because Broadway’s coming back in a way that’s not only about newness but about revolution, and all of us are trying to make a change,” says Alexandra Billings, who plays the musical’s Madame Morrible. “To be part of a story that’s founded in chosen family—and is about finding the power we’ve all been born with—is the foundation on which we’ll stand to build this show back.”

Of course, getting to opening night will be no small feat. “I just talked to my trainer a week ago,” Billings says, “I feel like I haven’t left the couch since 1926 and I said, ‘I have to get back in shape.’ He said everyone’s feeling that way, whether or not they’re on Broadway. It’s not just about moving physically but spiritually and emotionally. For anyone to do anything, it’s going to take a lot of work. I try not to think about doing 500 rehearsals but getting up today and taking it one thing at a time.”

Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Given the familiar backstory of the show—which tells a story based on The Wizard of Oz—Billings thinks it’ll find a new resonance with Broadway audiences. “We’re talking about spiritual familiarity; it’s the reason we like to watch certain movies over and over again or visit the people we love,” she says. “There are things we connect with on a deeper level, and they make us feel safe. That’s exactly what Wicked is about, seeing the things we love that remind us we’re safe and we’re home. No matter what color people are, what their background is, who they love, what political party they relate to, or what they do in their lives, once they cross that threshold into the land of Oz, everyone’s included and everyone’s safe.”

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