Not just another ‘Wicked’ actress | Inquirer Entertainment

Not just another ‘Wicked’ actress

By: - Reporter
/ 09:24 PM January 25, 2014

MAGGIE Kirkpatrick says her costumes and wigs are “extraordinary and heavy.” PUBLICITY PHOTO

Australian actress Maggie Kirkpatrick, who travels the world on account of her work in theater, sadly admits she doesn’t get to appreciate the places she visits as much as she’d like to.

“I’m increasingly tired so I don’t get to experience a lot of the local atmosphere,” the 72-year-old theater stalwart told the Inquirer when we met her in Auckland, New Zealand. “I wasn’t sure what to expect in Manila. In Korea, I wasn’t particularly interested in doing a lot of cultural things. I found that doing eight shows a week was quite enough. We only get one day off [in a week].”


Kirkpatrick plays the role of Madame Morrible in the Australasian production of the Broadway hit musical, “Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz.” The show was first staged in Singapore in 2011 and then in Seoul, Korea, in 2012. The musical theater blockbuster finished its two-month run in Auckland in November 2013 and will have a limited run in Manila starting Jan. 22.


Kirkpatrick said she read up on Manila and would like to “maybe visit a museum or a gallery. I hope I’d get a little energy on my day off. That would be lovely. [The Philippines] is a country of great contrasts culturally, socially and politically. Actually, I’ve read a lot about it over the years. I know about the Spanish influences and all that, so it does hold interest for me.”

She said she met a number of Filipino nurses in hospitals, on occasions when she was sick. “They’re lovely, warm, friendly and efficient. They make me laugh. They’re much in demand, aren’t they?”

Excerpts of our chat:

What are you looking forward to in Manila?
The same sort of response we’ve had wherever the show has been. I don’t see any reason Manila should be different.

Why do you think people love “Wicked” so much?

There’s something in it for absolutely everyone—children, young women, young men, older people. It’s a complete show. It has spectacle, great music, wonderful special effects. There’s dancing and singing. It has a story on love and friendship, on good and evil, on abuse of power. With all that, how can it not be successful?


How do you keep your performance fresh?

I’ve probably done the show for about 1,200 times. There’s no special technique. I guess it’s doing what I love, and enjoying the show particularly. I would hate to think that I could live through 1,200 performances of a show that I didn’t like, just for the money. “Wicked” gives me pleasure and I hope I give the audience pleasure, too.

What do you love about the show, personally?

The fact that Madame Morrible, my character, is not one-dimensional. She has many sides to her, and they’re not all good. What keeps me going is the fact that there are all those aspects to the character that I can explore and play with each night, and hopefully give the audience some intrigue as to what she is all about.

What can you say about the new generation of theater actors?
I’m astonished constantly at the depth and range of talent that these young people have, especially in this show. They are extraordinary. They’re called triple threats—they sing, dance and act. They can switch from role to role at a snap of a finger. They’re very committed—of course, they have to be because it’s a very competitive world of performance. It was fairly casual and laid-back when I started acting 52 years ago. But now, the talent that keeps coming out of Australia in particular is extraordinary. Of course, there are drama, dancing and singing schools, but not everybody will make it. They have to be versatile. They would have to explore other avenues, too. They can also go to movies.

You’ve also done film and TV work. Which medium do you love the most?
I prefer theater. I hate watching myself on TV. Theater is much more gratifying. It’s also a case of being more in control. Whereas, in film and TV, you are in the hands of directors, technicians and editors. However, in theater there’s no safety net. You just have to keep on going even when a part of your brain decides to switch off sometimes. It’s amazing how another part jumps in and rescues it. It’s actually very scary.

Do you love being in theater because you get to wear costumes?
As a child, I loved playing dress-up and pretending to be someone I was not. I was forever showing off when I was a kid. I used to put up little plays—just make-believe. Maybe that’s what’s carried over in my adult life these past 52 years in the business.

In terms of this show, the wigs and the costumes are extraordinary. I can also say they are very, very heavy. And as the years go by, I’m feeling this more and more.

They are quite spectacular. However, they’re just part and parcel of what I have to contribute to the role.

Do you still have a dream role?
I’m often asked that question, but I have to say that favorite roles are usually the ones I’m doing at the time. As the years go by, dream roles slip away. I think it’s probably up to some clever writer to create one for me. I’d like that.

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(“Wicked,” directed by Joe Mantello, also features Jemma Rix as Elphaba, Suzie Mathers as Glinda, Steve Danielsen as Fiyero and Jay Laga’aia as the Wizard. The musical will have a benefit show on Jan. 31 at 1:30 p.m. for Supertyphoon “Yolanda” survivors, to be followed by an auction. Visit for details.)

TAGS: Entertainment, Take Five, Theater

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