NEW YORK — For the primary time, a lady of shade is now taking part in the lead position of Glinda in “Depraved,” one in every of Broadway’s highest grossing musicals.
The staged prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” opened on the Gershwin Theatre in 2003.
CBS2’s Dana Tyler spoke with actress Brittney Johnson, who hopes she’ll encourage others to imagine they’ll attain for the celebs, too.
Johnson acquired a thunderous opening evening ovation that simply did not cease, and her first phrases within the present go far past the Emerald Metropolis: “It is good to see me, is not it?”
“Seeing you as African-American Glinda, you recognize, you made it you and it was so good to see you. I nearly had tears in my eyes. It’s important to really feel that as a part of what you are saying, as properly,” Tyler stated.
“I do. I do. It is a accountability, you recognize?” Johnson stated. “I believe there are layers of expectation which might be sort of constructed into it, which might be constructed into Glinda, interval, there are expectations, however positively layers which might be added in consequence, and I, I am completely happy to hold that accountability. I take it very critically.”
However simply getting the prospect to carry out within the practically 2,000-seat Gershwin Theatre took a very long time.
“You understand, this was all the time a type of goals that was simply, it appeared sort of distant within the distance. I used to be by no means capable of get an audition only for the present normally as a result of I wasn’t actually dancer, dancer, and so I have been in 4 different Broadway exhibits earlier than, earlier than this one. However as quickly as I bought the audition for this, I used to be so excited,” Johnson stated.
Almost three years after being forged as Glinda’s understudy, Johnson moved as much as the standby, and in February, she grew to become the fulltime Glinda.
“Have been you the sort of little woman wanting within the mirror and, you recognize, singing songs with that sort of confidence?” Tyler requested.
“I wasn’t, truthfully. My mother stated that I used to be singing earlier than I used to be speaking, however I used to be shy,” Johnson stated. “And each time, she’d be like, ‘You are gonna carry out on this factor at church,’ and I’d cry. I might be like, ‘I do not wanna!’ And I’d battle her, actually till the second that it was time to stroll onto the stage. After which I’d do it and I’d come off and I might be like, ‘Thanks a lot.'”
An image together with her mother is among the many mementos of gratitude, love and assist masking her dressing room wall, together with paintings from followers cheering on Johnson’s Broadway breakthrough.
Additionally on the wall is a photograph of Johnson with actress Kristin Chenoweth, who settled in as the primary Glinda in the identical dressing room nearly 20 years in the past. They share an Ozian bond.
“I used to be her opening evening visitor at her Broadway present ‘For The Ladies,'” Johnson stated.
Johnson confirmed off her props and costumes, noting the costume she wears within the opening scene of the present weighs 16 kilos.
“However I make it look sleek,” she stated.
Grace and radiant optimism beneath stress.
“The Emerald Metropolis costume, oh man. Elphaba and I, we run off, we run excellent previous the lip of the stage, we rip off our garments,” Johnson stated.
“Someone’s serving to you, you have got a dresser, proper?” Tyler stated.
“Proper,” Johnson stated. “So my dresser is there. She’s standing there with this costume poised for me to sort of dive into it. In order I am working off stage, as quickly as I run off stage, I rip off the jacket, I unzip the skirt, after which I dive proper into this one, flip round, she zips me up, I get a sip of water and I run again onto the stage. It is so quick. You’ll be able to’t give it some thought.”
This NYU Drama grad’s success and the empowerment to encourage younger individuals of shade include empathy. Johnson feels lucky to have a mom who raised her to be sturdy, to imagine in her genuine skills and to by no means cease trusting something was potential for her.
“Goals are an attention-grabbing factor as a result of generally you’ll be able to solely dream what you have seen and you’ll’t think about one thing that you do not know exists … I hope that me being on this position pushes out the, the boundary now of what individuals can dream, they usually can think about different issues for themselves,” Johnson stated.
“A lot has gone on, and plenty of extra efforts inside the Broadway group, theater group to be extra inclusive, and I do know that is essential to you as properly,” Tyler stated.
“It’s. And I believe greater than inclusivity, it is about equitability. And it is about, you recognize, it is one factor to create space and it is, it is one other factor to all be in the identical area … What I believe we’re constructing towards now could be an area the place, as a group, there’s a few of all of us. There’s a few of all of our sensibilities and all of our completely different histories which might be part of initiatives from the very inception. From writing, from producing, all of that. We’d like everybody’s enter as a result of who’re we with out all of our tales?” Johnson stated.
Brittney Johnson, altering historical past for good.