Wicked, the smash Broadway hit that's the musical tale about what happened in Oz before Dorothy landed, returns once again to the Arsht Center of Performing Arts. This magical and whimsical tale revolves around the characters Glinda, who eventually becomes the Good Witch of the South, and Elphaba, who becomes the Wicked Witch of the West, but let's not forget the character the noble prince Fiyero, the man in their lives. The character Fiyero, played by Richard Blake in this production, was the one man who played a part in both their lives, getting engaged early in the show to Glinda but later falling in love with Elphaba and running away with her at the end of the show.
While most people rave about the actresses who play the two pivotal roles, and rightly so, we took the time to interview Richard Blake, the actor playing Fiyero. Fiyero, a Vinkus prince who attends Shiz University, starts the show as a careless, happy-go-lucky, kid who is engaged to Glinda. When he meets Elphaba, he begins to understand that there is more to life than having fun and falls in love with her. So from Fiyero's perspective, Wicked is a boy meets girl, boy loses girl story but then meets another girl and falls in love.
Richard Blake, the boy in this story, is used to “boy meets girl, boy loses girl” stories. Blake originated the role of Warner Huntington III in the original Broadway production of Legally Blonde starring Laura Bell Bundy. Blake's roles on Broadway have included many “boy” roles, some who get the girl and some who don't, like Roger in Rent, Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever, and the role of Glen Gulia in The Wedding Singer, a role that he also originated. Miami audiences may remember Blake from his many roles in touring companies including Prince of New York, Footloose, Rent, and Saturday Night Live. Blake remembers coming to Miami when he was just fifteen for his role in Prince of New York. One of Blake's fondest memories of Miami was during the Footloose tour. “We stayed at the Tides Hotel and I was rollerblading with my girlfriend, a dancer in the show, who later became my wife.” Yes, even in real life, Blake gets the girl.
Now on tour with Wicked, Blake gets the girl (Elphaba) every night but it's not the typical “boy meets girl” story. Blake says the show is best described as “the untold story of the witches of Oz,” but he says “it's basically a story about finding yourself.” “Each character takes a very specific journey,” he adds. “I come out in the beginning very callous and shallow. My character changes during the show, from being arrogant to becoming noble.” Blake, proud to be part of the phenomena known as Wicked, boasts that “Wicked is the most successful show in the history of musical theatre and is the single best investment made by producers.”
When asked what he thought was the reason for Wicked's popularity, he explained that he thinks the story of Wicked is timeless and one that touches almost everyone that sees the show. Elaborating a bit, Blake explained why he thought the show was such a success. “There are several factors,” he said. “Besides the fact that the show is such a timeless story, it has a 'don't judge a book by it's cover' theme. It's the story about a relationship between two powerful women, which is necessary in today's world.” Besides the wonderful story and the fact that everyone is familiar with the story of the Wizard of Oz, Blake added that much of the show's success must be credited to the incredible book and music. “The intelligence of the book and music...Stephen Schwartz wrote great music for this show.” Stephen Schwartz, whose musical theatre career has spanned four decades, is known for creating brilliant music for shows like Godspell, Pippin, Children of Eden, Rags and The Magic Show. Blake's favorite moments in Wicked are when he get's to sing the beautiful music written by Stephen Schwartz. “I enjoy singing the song “Dancing Through Life” when I make my entrance and later in a duet with Elphaba when we sing “As Long As You're Mine.” Richard Blake stars in Wicked as Fiyero and every performance he gets the girl.
Wicked comes to the Arsht Center of Performing Arts on March 3 and runs thru March 21. The Adrienne Arsht Center of the Performing Arts is located at 1300 Biscayne Blvd. In downtown Miami. For tickets call 305.949.6722 or visit www.arshtcenter.org.