Local girl Lucy Durack is back in Perth for the final run of the Broadway smash Wicked, and as well as saying a renewed ‘hello’ to her Perth fans, she is saying ‘goodbye’ to a much loved role.
With Perth’s isolation, arts-wise, it could have been difficult for Lucy to snag her break-through role, but like her character Glinda the Good in Wicked, the WAAPA graduate’s life has been charmed.
“I was really fortunate in that it wasn’t difficult [to score my first acting role]. I was in my third year at WAAPA, and by chance, I met up with some WAAPA friends who’d graduated a few years before me who were in the Melbourne production of Mamma Mia! and one of them recommended me for a part. I still graduated from WAAPA, but a little early to start the Brisbane and then Sydney seasons of Mamma Mia!” she said.
“I had a real fairy-tale start to my career. I was extremely fortunate.”
As well as featuring in musical theatre, television, radio, and recently, film (Finding Nigel and Goddess, out later this year), Lucy finds time to sing for charity concerts and benefits – in part, due to being motivated by personal tragedy.
“The Light the Night charity concert is particularly close to my heart because the whole reason it was set up was because of my good friend, Shaun Rennie. He set it up because he lost his brother Matt, who I knew personally, to leukaemia a few years ago. We were doing the concert while Matt was still alive for the first couple of years and then Matt passed away and we now do it in his honour.”
With high-energy singing and dancing required for her role in Wicked, and particularly with back-to-back performances, the demands on her health are high, and she relies on health professionals.
“I’m a fairly healthy person and I do go and have massages occasionally because, for instance, one of the dresses that I wear in the show is 20kilos and so that weight can be quite stressful on my hips, neck, and shoulders. We also have a company physio who we pick up in each city.
Self-discipline is another way she stays healthy, but it leads to a lifestyle very much the opposite of acting’s glitz and glamour.
“I’m not a big partier, and I certainly don’t go out very much, so I look after my voice. I don’t want to go to places where it’s very loud (where I have to speak over crowds), and I certainly don’t drink very much. And I make sure I drink plenty of water and eat fairly healthily and don’t eat anything too spicy close to the show.”
One of Lucy’s career role models is actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth who rose to international fame as the US Glinda and has since appeared in film and television.
“I’m not looking to depart from the world of musical theatre, but I’d love to be able to do different genres of the arts. So I really look up to the way that Kristin Chenoweth has done that. She has done a lot of musical theatre, obviously, and Pushing Daisies and The West Wing and various films. That seems pretty fun to me.”
Wicked is the untold story of the witches of Oz and is based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire. It is one of the most successful shows in the world and the winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy, three Tonys, and six Helpmann Awards. As well as smashing box office records, the Australian production of Wicked sold its one millionth ticket last May.
This month is the last time audiences will see Lucy as Glinda, a role she has made her own for the past four years.
“It’ll be really emotional. It’s been the most amazing time. It’s something I wanted so badly and I’ve really been very grateful for every single moment. I’ve loved all of it and it’s been really hard work, but so rewarding and satisfying. It’s sad to say ‘goodbye’ to a dream, but you’ve got to keep moving forward.
“But I like the idea of ending on a high, being in my hometown and finishing up the Australian tour. Having been the Australian Glinda is something I’m really proud of.”
Wicked run ends on September 11. Lucy’s next role will be as Faith in Strange Bedfellows, which begins in Melbourne on October 19.