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Q-and-A with ‘Wicked’ star Jesse JP Johnson

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Jesse JP Johnson plays Boq in the touring production of “Wicked.”

Jesse JP Johnson plays Boq in the touring production of “Wicked.”

Source: Joan Marcus

Source: Joan Marcus

Jesse JP Johnson plays Boq in the touring production of “Wicked.”

Sofia Rada, Blogger

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Since its start on Broadway ten years ago, the musical “Wicked” has been an astounding hit. Actor Jesse JP Johnson has been involved in “Wicked” for about two years, first as part of the Broadway ensemble and currently as Boq in the national tour celebrating the musical’s 10-year anniversary (which fell on Oct. 30). Johnson has been doing professional musical theater since he was 10 and left home for New York at age 17. The Current spoke with Johnson about his experience with the show, which is currently in Chicago through Dec. 21. 

The Current: What made you want to be a part of “Wicked,” and how do you feel now to be part of such a great phenomenon?

Jesse JP Johnson: The show in general, the energy, what it’s about was appealing. Definitely when I came to New York, I knew I wanted to be in “Wicked.” … I feel very lucky to have gotten into this show and this family of “Wicked.”

The Current: What do you think has made “Wicked” so successful? What is special about it in comparison to other musicals?

JJ: The sets, costumes, the music, everything about the show is very grand and very huge. … I think that’s what’s made it last for so long, because not only is it musically great and the story is amazing, but the visual aspect of it is so grand and that’s what separates it from everything else.

The Current: What about the role of Boq? What is special about playing this role, what are some challenges and what are some of the fun things involved?

JJ: It’s special because it’s a role that I wanted to play forever. … (A challenge is) I go off stage and go back on … so when I come back I have to captivate the audience again and remind them … who my character is and keep them interested in my story. … There’s a journey from him being this innocent, kind of loving character into … not wanting to take (being pushed around) anymore. … I’m lucky that with this character who’s not on stage the whole time to have a huge arc and to have a journey.

The Current: The underdog idea seems to be part of the whole “Wicked” story. Do you relate to that message?

JJ: Yes, definitely. Especially as someone in musical theater growing up, I had a lot of challenges because I was different. … My favorite part of the show is … when Elphaba comes in and everyone starts making fun of her. … Glinda steps in and kind of saves the day. … Everyone at some point of their life has been an underdog and faced that challenge.

 The Current: What’s it like being on tour? How is it different from performing with the Broadway company?

JJ: It’s great being on tour. I definitely miss the Broadway company … because it’s Broadway. (laughs) It’s every actor’s dream to be on Broadway. … The best part about being on a show on tour is that the magic of the show is kind of bigger because you go to towns where seeing theater is a new thing. It’s great to bring that to the audience.

The Current: Is there any advice you have for aspiring actors, singers and other performers at Northwestern? 

JJ: For me, it’s really important that you love what you do. … If you love it and have the positive attitude not only will you have the best experience, make the best friends and have the best time on stage and give the best performance to the audience, but it will also help you to continue to work and to continue to be successful. 

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