San Diego

‘The Best Gift': ‘Wicked's Glinda, Kara Lindsey, on Returning to the Musical in San Diego

Broadway leading lady Kara Lindsey has been playing Glinda in "Wicked" the Musical on and off for the past four years. In San Diego, she came full circle and joined the tour she first started with years ago.

Audiences members watching star Kara Lindsey shine as Glinda in "Wicked" may think she was born for the role.

But back when the actress first started auditioning for the show, over five years ago, Lindsey, known for her roles in "Newsies," "Wicked," "Beautiful," repeatedly auditioned for the role of Nessarose, Elphaba's sister - and was turned down. 

"I had been going in for Nessa for a long time, and it never happened," Lindsey recalled. "The role was never mine." 

The musical, based off the novel by Gregory Maguire, follows the story of the "Wicked" witch Elphaba and her bubbly friend Glinda the "Good" in the Land of Oz, years before Dorothy arrives.

But after Lindsey's time in "Newsies" on Broadway, she decided to go in and audition for Glinda and give it a shot. 

As she went in to audition, Lindsey said, she thought a lot about the first time she saw "Wicked." Actress Megan Hilty, who went to Carnegie Mellon University around the same time Lindsey attended, got Lindsey and her mom two tickets to see her as Glinda. 

When Lindsey saw the show, she didn't think she could actually be Glinda. But the performance always stuck with her. 

"When I was considering going in for Glinda, I thought about her performance, and how layered she was, and how stunning and inspiring she was," Lindsey recalled. "She left an imprint."

Lindsey first joined the Munchkinland tour - the same tour running in San Diego through the end of the month - about four years ago. She then played Glinda on Broadway for a year, took some time off, and played Glinda on Broadway again. 

Lindsey was in "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical" on Broadway when she got the call from producers, asking her if she would want to step into the role of Glinda on tour. 

Coming back to the same tour she started her "Wicked" journey with all those years ago is like coming full circle, Lindsey said. The stage manager on the tour was the same stage manager that taught her the entire show when she first started. 

"It's sort of a full circle moment and it's sort of nostalgic for me," she said.

Revisiting the character of Glinda time and time again leads to a deeper understanding of the character, Lindsey explained. She feels more connected to the story every time she returns to it. 

"If anything's changed, it's just that I feel more connected to this group of people and this story and Glinda, because I've spent so much time with her, this story and these people," Lindsey said.

Lindsey tries to bring as much of herself to the character as she can.

"I am a bit silly and quirky and I can be an airhead, so I just try to accentuate those parts of me, the things that are authentic to Kara," Lindsey said.

That comfort level allows her and the other cast members to play more, she said. 

"Because you're comfortable, you're free to just be. I think that makes the audience a little more comfortable, too, and it just gets better," Lindsey said.

After all these years, Lindsey said, she's grateful to be a part of a beloved musical that constantly inspires people to be themselves and stand up for what is right. 

"I've had quite a journey with 'Wicked,'" Lindsey said. "It's been the best gift in the entire world." 

"Wicked" runs at the San Diego Civic Theatre until Nov. 25. You can get tickets here.

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