|Hayley Podschun, Walker Jones and Jennifer DiNoia|
Today, the Second National Tour says goodbye to three of its biggest stars! Walker Jones will depart the role of the Wizard after a year on the road in the role. I have seen him twice, and he is absolutely fantastic in the role. He has a charming energy about him that is completely tangible anywhere in the house. His portrayal of the Wizard made me think more about the character than I ever have before, and I really appreciated that. I hope to see him return to the role one day in the not too distant future. Hayley has also been on the road with Wicked for a year. I have also seen her twice and she is magnificent. She has an absolutely glorious soprano, a strong belt, and an incredibly diverse acting palate. She can be hilarious, sincere, strong, goofy, innocent and malicious all within two and a half hours. I absolutely adore her G(a)linda and think it would be a crime if she did not come back. She is also the sweetest person in the entire world.
I am so proud to have seen Jennifer DiNoia grow into the role of Elphaba like she did. She began in the open-ended Chicago company of Wicked in 2006 as a swing, and understudy for Nessarose and Elphaba. Eventually, she assumed an ensemble track, and in October of 2007, she replaced Carmen Cusack as the standby for Elphaba in Chicago. She remained the standby until the show closed in January of 2009, and three weeks later transferred to the Broadway production as the standby for Elphaba. There she stayed until August of 2011, only briefly leaving the Broadway company at the end of 2009 to standby for the role in Australia. After leaving the Broadway company in 2011, she joined the Asian/Korean tour of Wicked, where she served as the alternate Elphaba, performing two set shows a week. Upon returning, she re-joined the Broadway company for six weeks in the Fall of 2012 while Donna Vivino was on leave doing Stars of David in Philadelphia. After that, she joined the 2nd National Tour as lead Elphaba in April 2013. I saw her once on Broadway and twice on tour, and this woman is absolutely phenomenal. She gives an indescribable performance. She is known for almost never calling in sick, and yet never gives a performance that is anything less than stellar. She is strong, dynamic and funny, and also one of the sweetest human beings I have ever met at the stage door. If she doesn't end up doing the role again on Broadway, I know she will find enormous success elsewhere, because her talent and dedication is beyond remarkable.
Best Witches to all three!