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After 10 years, actress again plays the good witch opposite the (supposedly) bad witch Elphaba in the touring Broadway production

COURTESY PHOTO: JOAN MARCUS - Erin Mackey, starring as Glinda in 'Wicked' at Keller Auditorium, is married to a man who once played Boq in the play. Her husband, Stanton Nash, has family in the Portland area.Funny, sharp and displaying an epic soprano voice, Erin Mackey stars as Glinda in the Broadway touring show "Wicked," which stages at the Keller Auditorium through Sunday, July 28.

Being the good witch to Elphaba's (supposedly) bad witch in the retelling of "Wizard of Oz" is something that doesn't necessarily come natural to Mackey, who also played in the ensemble and the Glinda role in 2005-09.

"I'm very different from Glinda, but it's a fun role to get to play," she said. "She's unapologetically herself. That's fun to be able to do on stage."

The Tribune caught up with Mackey, 33 and a native Southern Californian who now lives in New York City, to chat about "Wicked" things and more:

Tribune: You played the role previously?

Mackey: I started in the ensemble on the first national tour in 2005, then moved to the Chicago company in the ensemble. At the end of 2006 I started playing Glinda and then played it for 2 1/2 years, and also did it in Los Angeles and New York on Broadway. ... I've actually been away from the show for 10 years. I just came back this year. It's really cool to come back after a decade of life and experience.

Tribune: What do you like about the Glinda character?

Mackey: The character allows you to bring yourself to it. It's such a comedic role, the heart of being funny is being honest. We're encouraged to bring our own quirks and our own personality to things.

Tribune: Describe your singing voice.

Mackey: This is a very rangy role, where you go from a low G (note) to a high C — about 2 1/2 octaves. It requires vocal rest on my part. I've taken voice lessons and studied voice since 10 years old. It's fun, because I get to use all tricks in the bag.

Tribune: Yes, rest is really important — both for your voice and because it's such a long production (nearly three hours) and you're on tour all the time.

Mackey: Incredibly important. You have to have balance. Part of the fun of touring is exploring new places and cities we're in. Make sure you enjoy life, but get rest.

Tribune: You first played Glinda in your early 20s.

Mackey: Think about how much people change in 10 years? I was really quite young when I started playing the role. "Wicked" was amazingly supportive of me and trusting me at a young age. It is amazing to come back in my 30s now and play the role. I have a deeper understanding of her; it's really rare that something you played 10 years ago you can still play. That's a special thing, probably one of the coolest things about this.

Tribune: You've probably played opposite your share of Elphabas. (An understudy, Sarah Fernandez, had to substitute for the main Elphaba, Mariand Torres, in a Portland show).

Mackey: Mariand has two understudies; that was Sarah's second time on, and she's wonderful. I primarily played opposite Dee Riscioli and Teal Wicks (in past shows). ... I understudied Glinda for six months. It's a hard job. We take care of each other on stage. That's what we're hired to do.

Tribune: What do you like about the "Wicked" acceptance/redemption story?

Mackey: For Elphaba, being labeled the wicked witch, it's very much a redemption story. It's a story about two women who are very different, but form such a strong friendship and bond with one another, they truly do change each other's life for the better. That's a powerful story. They're seemingly very different, but have so much in common.

Tribune: It's funny that you've married a man, Stanton Nash, who once played Boq (a love interest of both witches in the show).

Mackey: We met doing the show in Chicago. We've been married for over 10 years. He grew up in Texas, but his family has moved to Portland — parents live in Forest Grove, and sister and her family live in Beaverton. ... I've been here two or three times before; Portland's the most familiar stop on tour. But, I've never toured through Portland, never worked in theaters in Portland, it's my first time acting here.

For tickets/info: www.BroadwayInPortland.com.


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