Somewhere in the world, at this very moment, there is most likely an actress ascending above a theatre by way of bubble. Wicked has made a multitude of Glindas soar since the musical’s premiere over 12 years ago. It’s only natural since the show has shattered box office records internationally with its whimsical tunes and gravity defying story. Needless to say, the clandestinely bubbly and ever-charming Glinda has become a ubiquitous dream role for actresses far and wide. This even holds true for an already well established Broadway star like Kara Lindsay.
Fresh off her reign as “Glinda the Good” in Wicked's 2nd North American Tour, Lindsay settled into the Gershwin Theatre in December with the rest of the Broadway cast.
“I always have to pinch myself that I actually GET to do this,” she exclaims in our recent exchange. “I just feel very grateful!”
Audiences who’ve witnessed Lindsay spring about the stage in a whizz of pink fluff would certainly say the feeling is reciprocal. With a continuous swirl of Glindas circulating the world, the part without a doubt bears a daunting crown to dawn. However, intimidations aside, Kara has managed to illuminate the character with her own light, producing a magical combination of poised innocence and hilarity on stage for every performance. For this reason alone, spectators are the grateful ones.
Kara is no stranger to shining in Broadway blockbusters. She is most recognized from her incredible origination of “Katherine Plumber” in the Tony Award-Winning musical Newsies. She is supported by a BFA in Acting and Musical Theatre from the esteemed Carnegie Mellon University (FUN FACT: This is something she shares in common with Wicked alum, Megan Hilty). Kara stepped away from the land of Oz to tell us about her Broadway experiences, her original dreams of being a figure skater and share some of her most magical acting tips!
RP: To begin, what do you think drew you to becoming an actress?
KL: I think experiencing the way a theater piece moved me and inspired me. I wanted to be able to give other people that very same feeling. It is magical to me :).
RP: Would you mind telling me a bit about your acting technique?
KL: I went to Carnegie Mellon University where we were taught many different techniques and approaches. What really helped me was the way they helped us to break down each scene. We had to figure out beats, objectives, tactics, etc. Truly understanding the ins and outs of each scene helps to create an honest and layered portrayal of your character.
RP: Have you always dreamed of being on Broadway?
KL: Absolutely! But, before that I dreamed of being a figure skater (I have never even taken a figure skating lesson) and also dreamed of being a professional soccer player (I did a lot of travel soccer). I had these outlandish dreams that I wished so badly would come true one day. Performing on Broadway seemed like one of those unattainable dreams, but I am here and I am pinching myself! I worked really hard and sometimes it was not easy, but every second was entirely worth it. My family is extremely supportive and allowed me to believe my dream could be a reality. I am so very grateful.
RP: What’s something you think is a misconception about being on Broadway?
KL: That you haven’t really “made it” until you’ve been on Broadway. That is the biggest load of poop I’ve ever heard! There are hundreds of brilliant professional theaters across the country, some of which I have had the great honor and pleasure of working at. You can make a very VERY comfy living by working at these regional theaters and never step foot on a Broadway stage. I think many outside of the theater world have this misconception that Broadway is the end all be all. It certainly is a magical place and an absolute dream come true! But it’s also been a dream working around the country professionally in wonderful prestigious theaters!
RP: Working in live theatre, of course, presents some challenges. Have you ever experienced a terribly disruptive audience member? How do you power through and focus on your performance?
KL: Well there’s never been anyone terribly disrespectful or disruptive, minus the occasional candy wrappers rustling in the front row, but heck, I’d want candy too! We’ve had to stop during a show before for a sick audience member. That’s always scary because you just hope they are ok. We would always get an update if something like that happened because we really do want to be sure they were ok. Afterward the show would continue on, but it an odd way it felt like the audience was with us a little more because we all had stopped to take care of this person together. It’s strangely uniting.
RP: The NYC audition scene can be tough. How do you prepare for auditions? What’s your advice for our readers navigating open calls?
KL: Honestly, I am a terrible auditioner! My nerves tend to get the best of me. However, I find that if I start preparing the sides and music early on and read with a friend, I feel way more confident than if I were to just prepare it all on my own. It just helps to really feel what it will be like when you are in the room. Also, once you are at the audition location maybe listen to some music that relaxes you so that the stress of the waiting room doesn’t inhibit your audition.
RP: I had the privilege of seeing you in Newsies, and you were incredible! As a performer, what would you say is the most vital lesson you took away from that experience?
KL: Thank you so much! Gosh, there are so many wonderful things I was able to take away from that experience, it’s hard to choose just one. It was a Broadway debut for me and I was in the show for almost two years…the longest I have ever done a show. I guess it’s just important to keep yourself on your toes. Its easy to lose the spontaneity when doing the same show 8 shows a week for a long time. Continuing to challenge yourself and take classes is very important…always.
RP: I read that your inspiration for Katherine Plumber stemmed from the real-life investigative journalist Nellie Bly. Do you always try to ground your roles in truth?
KL: Yes! With Newsies it was a bit easier to ground Katherine in some truth because it is based on actual historical events. Though Katherine was a fictional character, there were many famous female reporters in history to pull from. Nellie Bly seemed to fit all of the Katherine criteria in terms of age, location, personality, etc. With Wicked, however, it’s not based on truth and is also very different from the book it’s based on. Continuing to find the layers within the script and and within the characters helps tremendously. Also, finding ways in which these characters relate to you in your own life, helps to bring that honesty and truth. Essentially these characters are an extension of yourself. That's why no one can ever do it exactly the same way, because you are uniquely you.
RP: Congratulations on Wicked! I hear you’re an amazing and unique Glinda. Did you feel any pressure to make the character your own? Especially with the song “Popular”?
KL: Of course! These are huge shoes to fill and I always have to pinch myself that I actually GET to do this! I try to just continue to be honest and be me :).
RP: What’s been the best part of being in Wicked so far?
KL: EVERYTHING! But truly, I think the fact that I am actually here. That is the best. I was never even really considered for Glinda because I don’t look like her. So I just feel very grateful that I even get to play this role anywhere let alone on Broadway!
RP: Vocally you’re asked to go to some pretty challenging places every night. How do you keep your voice in shape when you have up to 10 shows a week?
KL: Sleep, tea, acid reflux diet, and take a night off if you don’t feel well!
RP: To end on an inspiring note, would you please share your best piece of advice for all the aspiring actors out there?
KL: Know that you are enough and the things that make you different or unique may be the very thing that makes you shine above the rest. Trust in yourself, keep your head held high. We are rejected a lot in this business so find the people and things that lift you up and remind you of how brilliant you are! You can do it!
You can follow Kara Lindsay on Twitter @Karalindsay1 and make sure to catch her in Wicked while you still can!