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Go Backstage With Broadway’s Glinda at ‘Wicked’

June 7, 2018 by Suzy Evans
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While Elphaba is green, Glinda is sparkly. Instead of green makeup, Amanda Jane Cooper, who plays the good witch in “Wicked,” wears body micro glitter so her skin sparkles. That’s not the only thing sparkly about Cooper, who started playing the role on tour before joining the Broadway cast last summer. Now she steps into the bubble dress (which has more than 68,000 sequins and weighs 20 pounds) eight times a week at the Gershwin Theatre. We went backstage with Cooper to see how she gets ready for a performance!

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What’s the one thing you can’t live without backstage?
My incomparable dresser, Tracey Diebold! She keeps us on the train. She gets me onstage, feeling and looking my best. She is intuitive and kind. She is my confidante and encourager, and keeps me laughing with shenanigans. Fun fact: She’s done over 17 Broadway shows. My other answer is: hot water. Lots of hot water.

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)
Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

When do you get to the theatre, and what is your general routine?
I usually get to the theatre about an hour and a half before curtain. I like to settle in, center, and enjoy the quiet before the action starts. The first thing I do is my makeup, as I sip on hot water and listen to some music, or just enjoy silence (rare in NYC). Then I warm up my body and voice, and then go hang with our amazing cast. Jackie Burns is right across the hall, and we can see each other in our respective mirrors, so we love chatting and laughing and wishing each other a great show.

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)
Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

What is the easiest thing about being Glinda?
The fact that I get to play onstage with THE BEST COMPANY EVER. The talent and heart on stage and off are a joy to be around each night. We keep each other at our best. It’s a pinch-me moment every time I come down in the bubble.

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)
Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

What’s the hardest part about being Glinda?
Glinda requires a lot: physically, vocally, emotionally. But I’m grateful to have had time with this role to really learn what my body and spirit need to be able to give my all every time. I love it so much, and it’s a privilege to have to shape my life around the show. Sleep, hydration, steaming, humidifying, voice lessons, prayer, church, people I love, dressing room dance parties…these are the things that keep me going!

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

I love your red slippers. Who gave them to you?
My amazing Mom got me ruby red slippers when I was on tour, but when I moved to Broadway I wanted something with a more structured sole (for safety backstage) but we could only find them in PINK, which is so Glinda but not quite the ruby red that we were looking for. Cut to: Tracey, Broadway’s best dresser, hand stitching red sequins on top of the pink ones to make me CUSTOM RUBY SLIPPERS. I could cry.

What jams do you listen to while you get ready?
Ooo it depends! Some Mariah Carey, some old school hip hop, MSC, Bethel, The Belonging Co., John Mayer, some jazz, pop hits, O’Town (when Ashely Parker Angel is around), etc.

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

What do you look forward to most backstage?
All of the little choreographed interactions I have backstage with the cast and crew! I love the ritual and contact with everyone. I also love when people stop by my dressing room to grab a treat from our community snack table. Food = friends.

Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)
Amanda Jane Cooper (Photographed by Jenny Anderson)

What is your favorite Glinda costume to wear? Why?
It’s always changing, and so hard to choose just one! I spend a lot of time in the bubble dress, and I love her so. She (yes I call it a she) is authentically made, and so I love having to move with the weight and structure of the gown. I also adore my engagement suit at the top of Act 2. It’s really polished. The silk pattern is stunning, and the design tells an interesting story about Glinda’s changing position in Oz. Thank you to Susan Hilferty for the gift of Glinda’s dreamy looks!