by Courtney Iventosch
2010 was a very special year for both Sterling Masters and me. Each of us got an amazing gift that year... the opportunity to join the National Tour of Wicked. For Sterling, it was in April and she joined the First National Tour in the Witch’s Mother/Red Ponytail track. For me, it was August and I joined the Second National Tour as a swing. We didn’t know each other at the time, but we would soon find out that our paths would fortunately cross for many years.
In February of 2012, we had our first of eight replacements (so far). This first one was a sort of switch-aroo, when she became a swing and Dance Captain on the Second National Tour and I went into her track on the First National Tour. Funny enough, the first time I met Sterling was after our first replacement, when I flew from the First National Tour of Wicked (in Denver at the time) to Durham, where the Second National Tour was playing. I was on a quick trip to surprise our dear friend Haughtie (Lauren Haughton) for her 30th birthday party.
Everyone had helped me out, including Sterls, and I showed up at a restaurant downtown to join the birthday festivities. Before Haughtie came back from the bathroom, I quickly ran outside to where the cast and crew were hanging out and found a few folks I knew to sit with. As I walked toward them, I met Sterling! We had a quick exchange of hellos and introductions before I surprised Haughtie. From that moment, we were connected:) I knew that she was as awesome as everyone had said she was. A gorgeous, loving, darling, beauty. I am very humbled that I’ve gotten to replace her and be replaced by her time and time again.
When I left the First National Tour in 2013, she came in to replace me until my permanent replacement was ready to go into the show. And then in 2014, I was cast in a production of Sweet Charity, and for a moment I wasn’t able to do it, so Sterling took my place; then circumstances changed and I replaced her and ended up doing that show!
A few years later, I finally got to be in a show with Sterls for the first time ever! I joined the Broadway Company of Wicked to cover a maternity leave (our dear friend and Dance Captain Antonette Cohen), and in that transition, Sterling became the Dance Captain and I went into her track! I’ll never forget getting a text message from Sterls once she found out I would be coming into the company. We were both so excited to finally get to work together! Once Antoni was back in the show, Sterls replaced me to resume her track.
Now, several years later, she is getting ready to become a Mama and taking a maternity leave. I am honored to replace her this time, as she takes time away from the “Witch’s Mother” track to become a mother to sweet little baby boy Deeney!
It is truly a magical thing what we get to do, and Sterling and I both feel so lucky to get to do what we love for a living. The fact that we’ve been able to share so many incredible moments on stage and off, in our work and personal lives, is an extra special gift.
The Red Ponytail Pass Off of 2019 is probably the most fun one yet, though they have all been wonderful. I am so thrilled for Sterling and her husband Mike in this next chapter, and so grateful to get to cover her time away. I think of her during every performance, and I channel her as I “dance through life.” And although neither of us still quite understand why it is that we keep replacing each other (after all, we don’t look much alike), we are very grateful and happy about it, and it always brings a smile to our faces. And I take it as a huge compliment!
Next up: projected replacement #9 for us as I hand the Red Ponytail back after Sterling has become a Mom! We are all so excited to meet baby boy Deeney, and we are thrilled for Sterling and Mike as they embark on this next chapter in their lives together.