When the National Tour of Wicked stops at The Segerstrom Center For The Arts, the four-week engagement will be a homecoming for several cast members, including Michelle London, who plays Nessarose.  Michelle somehow found time during her busy schedule to sit down for a StageSceneLA interview!


Hi Michelle. Can you talk a bit about growing up in Southern California?

Growing up in Southern California was amazing and it took me moving away to fully understand how remarkable this place is.  What’s so incredible about Southern California for me is that there was never a moment where I wasn’t surrounded by musical theater. I was always in a show or seeing a show. Traveling around the country for the last two years has shown me how rare that is.   

How did you first get started as a performer?

I first got my start in musical theater at places like Children’s Theatre Experience and Musical Theatre Village.  It was the places like this that let kids truly experiment with theater in a safe nonjudgmental environment. My first memories are as Molly in Annie.

What would you say is your favorite role or production before joining the Wicked tour?

There are so many! Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street at Gallimaufry directed by the amazing Steve Josephson and ensemble in Bells Are Ringing at Saddleback Community College. These two stand out in my mind because I learned the most from these productions and from the wonderful people who put them together.

The current National Tour isn’t your first time doing Wicked.  Can you tell us a bit of your history with the show?

I auditioned for this show in 2006 when they were mounting the Los Angeles company. I got called back but didn’t hear anything after that.

Obviously you didn’t give up.  So what happened next?

Six months later I went to another open call and didn’t get seen because they didn’t have time to see non-Equity performers. I walked out of that audition to the Equity office and bought my card through a sister union. Cut to a year later I was opening a new show Disneyland when Wicked called.  Within two weeks I had quit Disney and moved to Illinois to be in the Chicago company as ensemble and to understudy Glinda. 

How did you get from Chicago to doing the tour?

A few months after I arrived in Chicago they announced they were closing and mounting a second national tour. So two days after closing Chicago we started rehearsals in New York, and somewhere in between I started understudying Nessarose. 

When did the part of Nessa finally become yours?

After about a year on tour our original Nessarose had to take a medical leave and I was asked to play the role for twelve weeks. A few months after that I was asked to take over Nessarose on the First National Tour. 

But right now you’re on the Second National Tour, right?

Yes, about a month after I joined the First National Tour I was informed that Nessarose on the Second National was opening up. I called the powers that be to switch back because I knew that the Second National was going to be playing Costa Mesa and my mom would freak out. So the powers said sure and now I’m back on the Second National playing my home town!  

What an amazing, terrific story! What keeps you coming back for more Wickedness?

I think I keep coming back for more because I’ve been able to change tracks. For the first six months it was all about the ensemble. The next year became about perfecting Glinda. Now, I’m still trying to figure out everything Nessarose has to offer.

What’s the high spot of the tour so far?

There are so many amazing memories on this tour. We’ve had the chance to visit some wonderful cities with some wonderful people.  My favorite thing about this tour specifically is doing Talkbacks and benefits.  Some of the cities we visit have never seen a show this big and for a lot of people it is their first musical ever.  So going to local schools and talking about why I love my job has been pretty great. We also do benefits to raise funds for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and those nights are always a blast.

To what do you attribute the phenomenal success of Wicked?

I think that there are so many universal themes in this show.  People can take from it so many different things.  I think the first time someone sees Wicked they’re in awe of the actual spectacle and the Wizard of Oz references.  But the people who see the show time and time again love the story.  Everyone can identify with almost every character.  Also, there are flying monkeys and a dragon.  How could you not love that?

What are your feelings about performing in a major National Tour so close to where you grew up?

This is truly a dream come true. I grew up seeing shows at OCPAC [now the Segerstrom Center] on school trips or with my family, my aunt would take me to see the symphony there, and when my friends and I got old enough we would student rush for tickets and sit up in the balcony.  The only time I was ever on that stage was when my high school choir competed and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were. Also, it will be so nice for my friends and family to get a chance to see what I’ve been doing for the last three years.

You’re an AMDA LA grad.  Any advice you can give to current AMDA students about to embark on a professional career?

The number one thing I say to everyone who is about to start a career in this industry is be nice to everyone!  The first jobs I got out of school came from teachers.  After that it was truly all about who I knew. It’s a very small community of very talented people. I’ve seen so many careers destroyed because of attitudes.  I was very very lucky to have been cast in Wicked without knowing anyone.

What great advice! Thanks so much, Michelle.  I can’t wait to be there for Opening Night and to say “Hi” after the show!

Michelle’s Wicked bio: Michelle is honored to be back in this wonderful company of Wicked.  Previously Michelle could have been seen in the Chicago company (u/s Glinda), or the First National Tour (Nessarose). Michelle is a California native and a graduate of AMDA LA. Many thanks to KSR, Tesley + Co., every teacher she has ever had, and her amazingly supportive family—Mom, Dad, Will, and Erica.

Click here to order tickets to see Wicked at the Segerstrom Center For The Arts, March 9 through April 3.

Wicked photos by Joan Marcus.


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