"One Short Day": A Candid Chat With Wicked Co-Stars and Friends Lindsay Mendez, Derek Klena and Katie Rose Clarke

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02 Aug 2013

Klena and Mendez in Wicked.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Katie, did you know Derek and Lindsay before they joined the cast?

Katie Rose Clarke: Lindsay and I had met doing a reading together, and it was pretty briefly. We didn't get a lot of interaction in that particular reading. So we knew each other, but I hadn't met Derek, and I didn't know Derek yet.

Lindsay and Derek, I know you are good friends. Did you know each other before going into Dogfight?

Lindsay Mendez: We didn't know each other. We met each other in my final audition. Derek got cast before me. We met then, but we're both from the same area in California, so we knew a lot of the same people, and when we found out each other were cast, we Facebook messaged each other. I was doing Godspell at that time, and he was doing Carrie [Off-Broadway with MCC], and we said, "We should meet before we start rehearsal." So he came and picked me up after the show one night — we had like a blind date. It was our first date! We went to Thalia right here [on 8th Avenue].
Derek Klena: We just talked about our mutual friends and where I was coming from and what she'd been doing.
LM: We were both super nervous and had the same level of excitement/[being] terrified. Anyway, that's how we met. From there, we just spent every day together. [Laughs.] For a long time it was just the two of us [in rehearsals for Dogfight] with Joe most of the time.

Mendez and Klena in Dogfight.
photo by Joan Marcus

Where were each of you ten years ago when Wicked debuted on Broadway? What was your first experience with the musical?

KRC: I think the first time I heard anything about Wicked was when I watched Idina Menzel perform "Defying Gravity" on ["The Late Show"] with David Letterman. I was in college at the time, and I just thought it was really special. There's something really special about this [musical], so it made me investigate the show a little bit. I just fell in love with the music that I heard [and] what I could find about the show at the time. I never considered — especially at the time because I was in college — that I would ever be a Glinda, much less do it for so long.
DK: It was actually the first Broadway show I ever saw. I always listened to the soundtrack. It was kind of a dream role of mine to get to play, and now that it actually happened, it's been kind of surreal.

And, you made your Broadway debut with this show! Tell me about that.

DK: It's kind of crazy. I think getting to work with people whom I've worked with before made it much more comfortable. Going into a show that has such a big following, and me seeing it so many times [with] tons of different Fiyeros, it was very nerve-wracking for me to jump into the show, especially it being my Broadway debut [and having to] live up to ten years of Fiyeros. I just had to remember to make it my own and try to find something new with the character. It was definitely nerve-wracking [and] intimidating, but very special. My family all came out for opening. It was cool.
LM: I saw [Wicked] when it first opened, and I thought it was awesome. I loved it. It's always been around, but it was never on my radar as a show that I could be in. And so, now doing it is like crazy and strange… And, I'm green all the time now! I really love playing this role. We're so lucky to get to [perform] such an epic journey every night. You don't always get that opportunity in a musical. A lot of times, you're playing something that happens over [the course of] a week. You're not getting to see people grow up and have these huge things happen to them [like in Wicked], and I think it's really special to get to dig that deep and go through [the journey] every night. And, to get to sing with a huge orchestra — one of the last huge orchestras on Broadway — and to be in a show that's this big and exciting, where an audience comes and is already excited to see it before it even starts… We have such an upper hand! They're already invested in the story before we even open our mouths because they know these characters, and that's really special and makes our jobs easier.


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