Interview: Amy Ross
by Polly Hember
Wicked, the phenomenally successful West End and Broadway musical, has been met with unadulterated loving and critical acclaim. It’s the three-time winner of the theatregoer-voted What’s On Stage Award for ‘Best West End Show’ and the two-time winner of the prestigious Oliver Audience Award, just to name a couple. Amy Ross is taking on the role of Elphaba for the UK and Ireland tour of Wicked, and has taken some time out between rehearsals and performances to talk to On the Beat to talk about this dream role!
OTB: How did you react when you found out you’d be taking on the role of Elphaba?
I didn't really believe it at first to be honest. My agent phoned me to tell me and it definitely took a few days for it to sink in. Then once it did I was firmly on cloud nine!
OTB: How did you approach the role?
I went through the script before starting rehearsals and made notes on important things about Elphaba that stood out for me. I also started singing Elphaba's songs regularly – to place them into my voice and to work up the stamina to perform eight shows a week.
OTB: Elphaba has become such an iconic role; what about her attracted you to the part?
The thing I was most excited about was how incredibly huge the journey is that Elphaba goes on. She is massively changed by the experiences she goes through and the characters she forms relationships with. The emotional arc is so huge that it's a gift for any actor to play. It goes without saying that Elphaba's songs are epic! Stephen Schwartz's score is incredible and singing those songs is so thrilling.
OTB: Why do you think she has become such an icon?
Audiences connect with Elphaba because of everything she stands for. She is incredibly passionate and cares so much about things being 'just'. She always tries to help other people and stays true to herself no matter what. I also think people can relate to Elphaba because she is an outsider. She is 'different' and most people - at some point in their lives - have felt this way. She puts out the message that it's OK to be different and to never apologise for it.
"She puts out the message that it's OK to be different and to never apologise for it."
OTB: How does Elphaba compare to different roles you’ve played in the past?
The roles I've played in the past have usually centred around a relationship or a romance, and falling in love with a man. It's been so wonderful to now play a role where the focus is a friendship between two strong – and very different – women.
OTB: We’re in love with this clever take on The Wizard of Oz! Are there any other classic tales you would like revisited or any other minor character’s stories retold like Elphaba’s narrative in Wicked?
Growing up, my favourite Disney movie was The Little Mermaid. I think it would be cool to revisit the story from Ursula's perspective. She's sassy and fabulous!
OTB: You have just finished opening the show in Zurich. How are you finding the whole experience so far?
I'm having a ball! I love getting completely lost in the character each night and singing those epic numbers. I'm also very lucky to be performing with such a talented and supportive company. We all get on really well.
OTB: Are you excited to go on tour in the UK?
Yes! I've toured the UK a couple of times before and really enjoy it. Changing theatres helps to keep the show fresh and we are visiting some really beautiful cities with Wicked. We’re really excited to open the tour in Bristol.
OTB: Do you have a favourite song from Wicked?
My favourite song is "No Good Deed". Elphaba is in emotional turmoil at this point - so it's not only exciting to perform from an acting point of view, but also the orchestrations are so powerful and intense that it's a thrill to sing.
OTB: Our favourite moment is where Elphaba finally “defies gravity” – do you have a favourite moment in the show?
This is one of my favourite moments too. I love the scene and singing beforehand with Helen (who plays Glinda) and the way it all builds to a climax. It's so exciting.
OTB: What is your dream role?
I am honestly playing it! Although I would love one day to star in a gritty BBC crime drama, or something of that ilk.
OTB: If you could give Elphaba any advice, what would you say to her?
I would tell her she's awesome and to continue to stay true to herself. But perhaps sometimes take a deep breath and count to ten before she speaks!
Wicked comes to The Bristol Hippodrome from 31 January to 3 March 2018. Tickets tend to fly out of the box office quickly, so make sure you book tickets in advance to see Amy Ross as Elphaba. We'll see you in the Emerald City!
Production Photograph by Matt Crockett
Portrait Photograph by Darren Bell