I didn’t want a heart, a brain, courage or a trip back to Kansas. I did ask for an interview, and the Wizard obliged! Stuart Zagnit gave a fabulous portrayal of the lovable yet conceited Wizard, another character who dances on the line between good and evil. Aside from Wicked, you may recognize Stuart from various TV series including The Good Wife, Elementary, Blue Bloods, 30 Rock, Law & Order and more.

Also, this blog features a guest interviewer, my wonderful brother and right-hand-man, Andrew Sinclair! He surprised me by jumping in the interview with his own questions, which I’ve indicated with “AS.” So thanks, Andrew! Now I’m off to sing more show tunes… enjoy!

The Wizard of Oz [Stuart Zagnit]

RS: What is your favorite moment of the show?

SZ: For me, I love my doing my number [“Wonderful”]. It’s my own number that I don’t have to share with anybody, and he kind of tells his story at the same time.

RS: What is your favorite part about your character?

SZ: What makes him interesting is that he didn’t set out to be an evil character. He was well-intentioned. But he fell into something that kind of corrupted him without realizing it… the fact that there was this little bit of innocence behind him that grew into something larger. I like exploring where that takes him. Also, I like the way he draws people to him. I like to explore the charm that gets him the things that he needs.

RS: I would be curious about this for any cast member: Do you basically know all of the lines in the entire play?

SZ: Absolutely not. I think by osmosis, when you hear the show when you’re not on [stage], I probably know a lot more lines than I think I do. But if you asked me to step into another role, I don’t think I’d do very well.

RS: Do you have any plans for the Fourth of July?

SZ: Well, we’re flying to Houston, and hopefully we’ll find a nice place to have a view of fireworks. We travel tomorrow, but the evening will be free.

AS: How long did it take you to learn your lines?

SZ: [Madam] Morrible, Fiyero and I all joined at the same time, and we had about three weeks of rehearsal before our first show. Right before I did Wicked, I did The Producers. I played Max Bialystok, and I was on all night long. He has songs, book scenes… and it’s relentless. I learned it in about 12 days. You have to do it. It’s amazing what you’re able to do.


As Wicked flew out of Birmingham on Sunday night, I got a chance to sit a spell with the actors who bring the life (and a little magic) to two of the most infamous characters in Oz–Mary Kate Morrissey (Elphaba) and Stuart Zagnit (The Wizard).

Mary Kate met and exceeded my expectations in her role as Elphaba. Thinking back to the scene of “Defying Gravity” nearly gives me chills! Aside from her spectacular vocal performance, Mary Kate clearly communicated the character of Elphaba through her every expression, movement and interaction with another character. This was my third time to see Wicked, and I felt that Mary Kate truly tapped into Elphaba’s character by bringing a young and fresh perspective to the beloved star of the show. Here is my Celeb Sit Down interview with Mary Kate!

MARY KATE MORRISSEY (Elphaba)

RS: What is your favorite moment in the show?

MKM: The Ozdust Ballroom when Glinda and Elphaba become friends.

RS: Why?

MKM: Because I think that’s when the show starts. Otherwise there wouldn’t be a show if they didn’t come together.

RS: What’s your favorite part about your character?

MKM: That she’s the underdog and she triumphs. She stands for a lot of people who aren’t necessarily in privilege. She can stand for whoever the audience needs her to be.

RS: If you could be any character for a night, who would it be? I know this is a hard one for you!

MKM: I know (she laughs). I would want to be Elphaba every night!

RS: That’s a great answer!

MKM: I think for one night I’d want to be Glinda. Just for fun.

RS: Is it hard to fly in the harness and sing? (during “Defying Gravity”)

MKM: No. I’m standing on something, so it’s not a harness. I’m standing.

•••

MARY KATE MORRISSEY is currently the Standby for Elphaba in the Munchkinland Tour of Wicked the musical. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2011 with a degree in musical theatre. Her past theatre experience includes Hair! (national tour), Tamar of the River (off-broadway) and Lizzie: The Musical (regional). Keep up with Mary Kate on Twitter at @maryspacekate.

 

The interview with Stuart Zagnit (The Wizard) is coming soon! Follow @1RachelSinclair for updates.


Scotty McCreery became America’s heartthrob five years ago when he won American Idol at age 17. Since then, he’s become a country music sensation with hit songs including “See You Tonight,” “Feelin’ It,” “I Love You This Big.” Before he performs at Iron City in Birmingham, Ala. Sunday night, Scotty sat down to help us get to know him better.

RS: How do you balance college life and touring? What are you studying at NC State University?

SM: I enjoyed the college life for nearly three years, but I put it on hiatus to focus more on my career. It was important for me to try and do both college and music, and it was equally important to me that I had those college experiences with my friends. I’ll never be age 19-21 again and I didn’t want to look back and regret anything. I lived in a dumpy college house near campus with some of my best friends and I had a blast. We made so many memories. I love NC State and will always be a member of the Wolfpack. While I was in college, I studied Communications.

RS: What has been one of the most memorable moments during a performance on tour?

SM: There is nothing like looking out at the fans and hearing them sing back to you on a song that you wrote.  I wrote my song “See You Tonight,” which was my first Top 10 hit and later went Platinum and was one of the Top 50 country songs of 2015.  Hearing the fans sing that song back to me never gets old.   The enthusiasm and the passion that my fans give me every night in concert is amazing. I am so thankful for them. 

RS: What is your go-to meal when you’re traveling on the road?

SM: I always keep Cheese-Its and cereal on the bus.  Those are must haves for me.  

RS: Do you have a favorite song from one of your albums that is not one of the top hits?

SM: I love the song “Carolina Moon” on my second studio album, See You Tonight.  I am proud of being from North Carolina and this song always takes me back there when I’m away from home. Plus, Alison Krauss sang harmony on it. You can’t get better than that. 

RS: What has been the hardest part about writing a book?

SM: I’m a songwriter but I’m used to telling a story in a three minute song.  Having nearly 300 pages to fill in a book is a little challenging, but once I determined what experiences I wanted to share it all began coming together. I wanted the book to be as if the reader and I were in the same room together and I was sharing some stories and I think we accomplished that. I’ve written about some good times and bad times and tried to give a full picture of who I am in the book. 

RS: Your book discusses your personal growth within the last five years. How have you also grown in your relationship with God?

SM: My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. I make all of my decisions based on my faith.  When I was in Los Angeles doing “Idol,” I kept my Bible on the nightstand and read from it often. It gave me inspiration and the strength to keep going each day.  My go-to Bible verse is Philipians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

RS: What are you most looking forward to about touring with Rascal Flatts on their RIOT TOUR 2015 this summer?

SM: I toured with Rascal Flatts last year, and it was a great experience. Those guys are pros and to have the chance to watch them perform every night and learn from what they do was invaluable. I’m not sure who is out with them this year, but I know it will be a great experience for them.

 

Visit ironcitybham.com to purchase ticket’s to see Scotty on Sunday, Apr. 17 at 8 p.m.