Wicked alum Teal Wicks is flying back to the Great White Way in Finding Neverland—and while she doesn’t get to explore her inner child while playing J.M. Barrie’s (Matthew Morrison) social-climbing wife Mary, she’s having a blast bringing the magical new musical to Broadway. Featuring a score by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy and a book by James Graham, Finding Neverland opens April 15. Between tea time with her co-star Laura Michelle Kelly and kicking back on her new chaise longue, Wicks chatted with Broadway.com about the ‘crazy’ preview period, why the Finding Neverland kids make her feel lazy, and the ultimate question: Oz or Neverland?
How’s the whirlwind of previews going?
Whirlwind is a good word for it—I think this the craziest preview period I’ve ever done with a show, but that’s really awesome. We’re doing new scenes and new lines every night. A lot of times, our director Diane Paulus will say, “OK, we’re gonna try that second version of that scene that we did or we’re gonna do that third version of that little dance break that we did before three weeks ago.”
Wow! How do you stay calm?
The biggest thing is sleep, so I have a little chaise longue and that’s really important for me, so I can just lay down and take a nap in between shows. Laura Michelle Kelly [who plays Sylvia Llewelyn Davis] loves to have people in her dressing room for tea, and she’s just such a lovely person, so I take refuge with her over a hot cup of tea.
In a show that’s so much about having fun, Mary Barrie is not about that at all—what’s it like to play the stick-in-the-mud?
It’s tricky, but James needs to have some opposition so he can really find himself and discover what he really wants. I’m an anchor—no I’m the ball and chain—that’s dragging him back into reality and the rules in the world we live in.
How have you been getting along with the kids in thes how?
I’ve never worked with this many kids in a show before! These boys are absolutely incredible. They make me feel so lazy because they’re balancing school and performing, they just blow my mind. And almost all of them have more credits than I do!
What's it like being married to Matthew Morrison on stage?
He is so nice, so genuine, so calm and such a brilliant leader. He has such a laid back, easygoing totally open attitude to everything, and that’s what you want in the leader of your show.
You’re also a member of the Elphaba Alumni Club, which I hear is very selective. Do you guys have a secret handshake or anything?
There is a recognition like, "Hey girl, we’ve been through this, I get you." It’s an instant affiliation. I’ve met a lot of the ex-Elphabas. We’re friendly acquaintances, and we’ve been through a lot. It’s such an incredible role, very demanding. It’s a survival badge.
You have to play a grown-up in this show, so let's hear more about your inner child! What were you obsessed with as a kid?
Climbing trees—I still am. I grew up in Sacramento, and we had this grove of fig trees. I used to call it my fort and hide up there.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be everything! A marine biologist so I could hang out with seals and dolphins, an archaeologist because I wanted to be like Indiana Jones. And I also wanted to be a ballerina, but I stopped dancing ballet when I was 12. Oh, and a professional snowboarder. I still snowboard a little bit when I can.
Wow, impressive! So when you were a kid, what was your ideal dinner?
Either my mom’s meatloaf, or the pork chops and applesauce my dad makes.
What was your favorite story growing up?
It really was Peter Pan! It’s so great that it just so happened to work out that I’m in a show about it.
If you could pick one fantasy world to live in, Neverland or Oz?
It would for sure be Neverland. When I was a kid, the flying monkeys in Oz freaked me out too much!
See Teal Wicks in Finding Neverland, opening April 15 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.