by Sarah Anne Fernandez
Ever since I was ten years old, my dream has always been to be in Wicked. Over the course of my life, I’ve always tried to take steps towards finally achieving that dream - my living room has seen more renditions of my one-woman Wicked than I can count, and I can certainly say I’ve painted myself green once or twice in my childhood just to see what it would look like. Never in a million years did I think that I’d get to live out that dream in my first professional job, only six months after graduating from NYU.
Just booking the job itself was so surreal to me, but having it be right on the heels of me entering the “real world” as a professional actor was even crazier. I never once thought I’d book my dream role at 22, and I still have to keep pinching myself every day to remind me that this experience is in fact real and not just a really vivid dream.
I’m still astounded and grateful to be able to say that I’m currently on the Broadway national tour of Wicked, serving as the Elphaba understudy and appearing in the ensemble. The coolest thing about my track is that I get to experience Oz as so many different characters each night, while still knowing that on some special nights I actually get to be the Wicked Witch of the West. Being an understudy is so exciting, because it gives me the opportunity to learn from all of the other Elphabas around me. I am truly so lucky that during my time here I’m getting the opportunity to work with legends like Jackie Burns and Mariand Torres - two of the best ladies in the business. They’ve been so kind and helpful to me as I learn this beast of a dream role and I love getting to watch their unique interpretations of the green girl on stage every night. It makes me so excited to soon get the chance to bring my Elphaba to the stage and to make her uniquely my own. I feel so honored to finally be a part of the sisterhood of strong and fierce women who have played Elphaba in the past - women like Eden Espinosa and Christine Dwyer who have mentored and inspired me over the course of my life, women like Jackie, Mariand, and Cecelia Ticktin who are cheering me on now, and all of the other Elphie sisters I have yet to meet. I am so lucky (and still in disbelief) that I get to see my name up there with all the great women who came before me - I certainly stand on their strong shoulders each time I don the hat and hold the broom.
Just last week I got the opportunity to finally see my name in our Playbill for the first time, and, to be honest, a lot of ugly crying took place. This journey has been going so fast that sometimes it feels almost unbelievable - less than a month after I booked it, I was on a plane to Los Angeles to learn the show, and now I’m here in Salt Lake City getting a month of performances under my belt. Getting to see something in print and tangible, like my name and bio in my first professional Playbill ever was what made it all feel a little more real.
Wicked will always feel like a dream to me no matter how much time passes, but getting to see that I’m actually putting my little green handprint on this massive show means more to me than I could ever put into words. This show and this company has defied all of my expectations and gone above and beyond what I could’ve ever dreamed up - but most importantly, it’s given me the chance to finally defy gravity. And I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited to be able to say that.