|Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN|
Before Mendez burst onto the stage for her arrival at Shiz University, she thought, "Let me get through this." She said, "I was more nervous tonight than I was my first night. It's a big night for Wicked, and I just wanted to be present and be part of it. I thought, 'Let me have fun. Let me feel the boost of the crowd,' and God, I did. The second I walked out there was crazy."
Entrance applause continued throughout the evening, with each principal — including the green baby in the opening number — receiving cheers from the crowd, and although Mendez claimed nerves played a part in her performance, her voice soared on her first number, "The Wizard and I."
"It wasn't until 'Defying Gravity' started," she added, "that I thought, 'Wow!' This is so freakin' cool, and I cannot believe I get to be this person. I feel so grateful tonight that I got to do this." Her final note in the show-stopping "Defying Gravity" — seconds before a blackout brought the first act to a close — was met with a standing ovation.
Mendez's co-star (and good friend) Derek Klena, another cast member making his Broadway debut in Wicked, admitted to feeling "a rush of emotions." At the show's after party — held at the Edison Ballroom on 47th Street — he said, "I've seen the show multiple times before I came in, so to actually play this role and be amongst everybody who I've seen do it before is kind of amazing and terrifying at the same time. It was the very first Broadway show I saw. I still can't believe it. This whole cast and family is so amazing, and to get to be a part of that is great… And, being with Lindsay is definitely also very comforting."
"It was very reminiscent of [our] opening night," Klena said of their duet. "We were just there for each other and helping each other through. We're such good friends and could read each other's minds. I'm there for her, and she's there for me."
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