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 happens…you 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.