Behind the Curtain: Wicked
By Madelyn Olsen
Broadway’s biggest blockbuster “Wicked” is returning to Chicago at the Oriental Theatre this Wednesday for a special eight-week event to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
One of the stars of the show, Curt Hansen, will be gracing the stage as Fiyero.
Hansen has been touring the country with the “Wicked” crew since March.
This isn’t his first time around the block, however.
Hansen has played several roles, including Link Larkin in “Hairspray” and Gabe in “Next To Normal.”
He also appeared on the small screen in “The Good Wife” and Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush.”
In “Wicked,” Fiyero is the prince and Elphaba’s— the wicked witch— love interest. They meet at Shiz University, and he joins her in the resistance movement against the Wizard of Oz.
Hansen said his favorite part of getting to play Fiyero is realizing that the character is a deeper person than he comes off as, showing the audience that he’s not just a rich, good looking dude who isn’t very smart. There’s a deeper side to him that’s sweet and caring.
Hansen’s opening scene is the song “Dancing Through Life.”
“[It’s a] cool way to start off the show,” he said about the song. “I’m always excited and nervous before I do it, so it gets me amped up for the rest of the show.”
Another highlight is the song “As Long As You’re Mine,” a duet at the end of the show, which is more of a challenge to Hansen.
“It’s just me and [Elphaba] sitting on the stage; it’s so exposed,” he explained.
For an actor, every role is different. The process of getting into character and how the characters affect the actors, as people, are unique to each role.
“I try to find Fiyero in my everyday self and translate that onto the stage, and find similarities to bring to the table,” Hansen said. “Every night is a different performance … Now that I’ve been playing him, I’ve become more confident as a person. The more I play him, the more I become him, and the more similarities I have with him. Fiyero always wants to do right, and he’s honest … I like to think I’m smarter than him, but overall, I think we’re both good people at heart.”
Hansen has set out to prove that Fiyero is more than just a pretty face, distinguishing himself from others who may have played him in the past.
“It’s easy for people to make Fiyero goofy — like a caricature — and I’ve tried to make him seem like a real person with more depth,” he said.
Hansen pointed out that the hardest part about preparing for the role was “trying to find how to fit into the world of this show.”
“Until you’re doing the show every night, it’s hard to get into it … It took a couple of weeks to really get a handle on the character,” he said.
And although he said he loves playing the role of Fiyero, if he could play any other part in “Wicked,” it would be Elphaba, even though she’s a female.
Hansen said it was Elphaba’s depth of character and the obstacles she has to work to overcome in her life that appeals to him.
“I think that’s your goal as an actor, to have challenges to overcome on stage every night,” he said.
Hansen has been playing Fiyero longer than any other role he’s been a part of, and he said to be able to stick with it has been a huge accomplishment to him.
Every actor has a motivation, a driving force, the reason they do what they do. For Hansen, it’s to be creatively fulfilled.
“I’ve never done a role as long as this one,” he said. “My goal as an actor is to keep it fresh, and I have to drive myself to be creatively fulfilled … I’m from a small town in Wisconsin, and I didn’t really think that it was a possibility to do this, but it was my family and my community’s encouragement that pushed me and got me where I am today … Just being in this show is a huge goal of mine I’ve been able to accomplish.”
Hansen says he tries to be a good person and always be “friendly and respectful of others,” something he learned on stage and applied to his everyday life.
“This tour so far has been a hard job, travelling from city to city… it’s not a very stable life, but I’ve grown up a lot since it started,” he said. “I committed to learning a lot from it and trying to experience as much as I could. Every city we went to I had a checklist of things and people I wanted to see, and I’m proud to have done the things I set out to do.”
What’s the future for this Fiyero? The stage is not his last stop. Hansen says he hopes to be able to be creatively fulfilled and happy by doing things such as TV, film and writing music.
“I want to do it all, not just one thing … to do as much as I can because I want to be able to look back on life and not regret anything,” he said.
He’s on his way, bringing his creative energy to bring Fiyero to life.
You can catch him and the rest of the “Wicked” cast starting Oct. 30 until the curtain closes Dec. 21.