Interview: Kristoffer Cusick From Wicked

A new production of Wicked is opening in Chicago. Starring as Fiyero, the Winkie Prince who wins the heart of the green girl Elphaba, is Kristoffer Cusick.

Kristoffer has always love performing, but his life almost took another path. While attendning Loma Linda University as a pre-med student, Kristoffer had a series of side jobs that led him to being cast in the 1st National Tour of Rent. From them he decided that performing is what he wanted to do. Kristoffer then made his Broadway debut in Saturday Night Fever, and appears on the cast recording.

Kristoffer's involvement with Wicked began with the musical's debut on Broadway. He began understudying for Fiyero and such actors as Norbert Leo Butz, Taye Diggs, and Joey McIntyre. He has also appeared in the ensemble of the musical. Now he is taking the lead as Fiyero opposite Ana Gasteyer.

Kristoffer talked to M&C.

M&C: Did you always want to be involved in the theater?

KC: I have always loved performing, although as I got older the choice to focus on a career path seemed to be a bit daunting and I opted to take the education and science route versus the artistic path in life.  For 3 years I was a Biology/Pre-Med Major in Southern California before a series of side jobs performing led to my being cast in the 1st National Tour of RENT.  From that point on I have never wanted to do anything but what I do. 

M&C: Tell our readers about Wicked and your role as Fiyero.

KC: Wicked is the story of The Wicked Witch Of The West (Elphaba) and Glinda The Good Witch and how they came to know each other and become the characters that we know and love from the classic MGM movie "The Wizard Of Oz".  However, the musical has a twist and is told from a different point of view which engages audiences to re-think what they already presume to know about these famous characters.  Fiyero is the "Winkie Prince" that comes to Shiz University where he meets up with Elphaba and Glinda.  He is sort of a playboy rich and famous handsome guy that becomes the object of an interesting love triangle  with the two women.  To see what will have to come check out the show.

Kristoffer Cusick

M&C: What is your history with Wicked? You were in the original Broadway company? Do any moments stick out for you as memorable?

KC: I have been with WICKED since the very beginning on Broadway.  I was originally the understudy for Fiyero and covered actors such as Norbert Leo Butz, Taye Diggs and Joey McIntyre.  I think that the most memorable moment in WICKED, for me, was when Idina Menzel won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a musical at the 2004 Tony Awards.  Idina went through so much and worked so hard for that award and it was such an inspiration for all of us in the cast to see her recognized for all of her efforts.

M&C: Wicked is a hugely popular show with a loyal fan base. How do you feel about stepping into the role? What will you bring to Fiyero that others haven't?

KC: I think that it is so exciting to get to create this role with this company anew.  Being the understudy, there is very little room for your own interpretation of a character because you are basically needed to step in a keep a show running smoothly the way the person you are covering does the role.  It was difficult for me to let go of many old habits from being a cover and come up with my own version of Fiyero, but I think that I have done so successfully.  I am not exactly sure what I do that is different...maybe a few dance steps in my big number...but you will have to come see and let me know.

M&C: What has it been like working with Ana Gasteyer?

KC: Ana is the best.  She has become a great friend and is the most giving and supportive actor.  I have nothing to say but great things about her.  She kicks butt in her role and she keeps us all laughing all the time.

M&C: How was your experience working on Rent? What are your thoughts on the upcoming film version? Plan on seeing it?

KC: I am definatly planning to see it.  Many of my friends have worked on the movie and are in I think it is going to be AMAZING and I can't wait to check it out.  My time with RENT was one of the best times of my life.  RENT taught me so much and I grew up alot during that time.  I made some great friendships that will last my whole lifetime and at the same time I was doing this HUGELY popular show that was unbelievable in its message.  I LOVED IT!!

M&C: Do you have a dream theater role?

KC: I would love to create a role...but if I had to pick one that is established...I would love to play Che In EVITA

M&C: Besides Wicked, what are you working on now?

KC: I am working on my own cabaret act.  Practicing guitar and taking class as well.  That pretty much sums it up. 

Kristoffer Cusick

M&C: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? Still in theater? Is there anything else you'd like to try?

KC: I will always be involved in the business.  I would love to learn the money and numbers side of things a bit more and get involved in producing things...but I will never not act.  I think that I will just mature and develope and who knows where life will take me.  I would love to be back in LA, my hometown, doing a TV show or working on a movie...or be in NYC working in some great show.....all of it I am open too.

M&C: Why do you think Wicked has become so popular?

KC: Wicked has a mass audience appeal because of its already established fan base from the classic MGM movie.  I think that the shows writing and score and costumes...the lighting and set design and the amazing cast all add to a wonderful night of theater that people from 6 to 96 seem to love to come and watch and leave raving about. 

M&C: Anything else you'd like to add or tell our readers?

KC: Thank you for all of your support and love.  Check out my website when you get a chance.

Like Kristoffer said check out his website. To celebrate the opening of Wicked M&C is giving away some great Wicked gifts. Enter the contest here.

Further Reading on M&C

Kristoffer Cusick Biography - - Kristoffer Cusick Movies -