Irish star Sarah O’Connor on taking on iconic role in Wicked

Pic: Matt Crockett

Wicked is one of the biggest musicals in the world. Ariana Grande will be starring in the upcoming film alongside Cynthia Erivo and Jonathan Bailey.

But it of course got its start on stage, in a production that is still running across the globe.

Irish actor Sarah O’Connor is currently starring in the iconic role of Glinda. As you can imagine reaching this level of success at such a young age has been no mean feat and Sarah is most definitely flying the flag for the Irish on the West End and follows a line of recent successful theatre stars shining on the world stage such as Killian Donnelly and Stephanie Mckeown.

VIP Magazine caught up with Sarah when she jetted into the capital…

Pic: Mark Senior

Hey Sarah, what is it like to be back in Dublin?

I am absolutely thrilled! For work to be bringing me home…I’m lucky, I’m really lucky. I’m in one of my favourite musicals, playing one of my favourite roles. So I’m thrilled about it, absolutely thrilled.

Tell us about getting the role of Glinda!

It was definitely a shock. The day I found out I was running around like a mad one. I was down in my grandad’s house and my husband, who is also my agent Facetimed me and told me the news. I wasn’t expecting it in that moment so I was just screaming and crying and laughing. It was unbelievable and I wasn’t expecting the call so soon after my final [auditon]. I think coming to Dublin was the most attractive part of getting the role. I knew I was going to be here for a few months. I’ve been really looking forward to it for a long time.

You said this is a dream role for you, what is it like playing Glinda?

She’s iconic. Yes, there’s pressure when it comes to roles like this and there’s obviously a level you need to hit and follow and continue with eight shows a week. But it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for so long. It’s fun and it’s an amazing story, the music is ridiculous, her costumes! Her costumes are unbelievable. They just transport you so easily as an actor, as soon as you’re on stage you feel like a different person. I have been a Wicked fan for a very long time, so to be getting to play her now is super cool.

With the Wicked movie coming out later this year, do you think it’s drummed up excitement about the stage version?

Oh yeah! I feel like Wicked is a trending topic right now in all aspects. We’re all excited to see it as well, so I’m sure we will. But to get to tell the story eight shows a week is our privilege. So we can get excited about that in months to come, but for now, we’re just telling the story every day. We’re super lucky to be getting to do that. So that’s really cool.

Anyone who has seen Wicked on stage will know how magical it is. Is it just as magical when you’re performing in it?

Honestly, it is the coolest job in the world! There are so many times when I’m on stage where I will catch my wig in my peripheral or spot a sequin or I’ll catch myself in the mirror. You tend to forget until you see yourself. Then I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’m Glinda that’s so cool!” Or I’m in the bubble, looking down at the ensemble opening the show before I enter. There are always pinch-me moments. Me and Laura always have them on stage. You don’t get used to it. You just keep enjoying it, because it is pretty cool. Like, it’s awesome!

Pic: Matt Crockett

Sarah, you’ve had an incredible career. What would you tell your younger self?

I could tell her all of the things I’ve done and she wouldn’t believe any of it. That’s how ridiculous it is. You can dream and have all these plans, but you never know what’s going to happen. It’s super cool that it has happened, but I don’t even think I believed or dreamt of playing something like this for so many years. As it got closer and as my career developed, yes things felt a little more in my reach and I felt I was more capable of them. You have to back yourself in that way. It is really, really important in achieving those dreams, keep working, keep going. I think she’d be delighted. This job keeps surprising me every year, that my career keeps developing.

What will it be like performing in Ireland?

I don’t think I even know yet. Even flying in to chat to you and talk about the musical was very emotional. To be flying the flag for your country, I am so proud to be Irish. To be leading this company of one of the most famous musicals ever written and to get to do it in front of all these amazing Irish people, it’s such a privilege. I am enjoying every moment of it. To be able to meet my family and go to have coffees and walk around Grafton Street, I can’t wait! Just get me home.

Pic: Matt Crockett

We’re having an Irish renaissance on screen. Are you hoping to usher in that same thing on stage?

Oh my God! Always, always! Listen, all walks of life, all places, let’s all get in and get working together. Wicked is brilliant for casting that way, they see the one role in so many different ways and so many different women can play Glinda. That’s what keeps it fresh. They never cast two people the same. Let’s get the theatre renaissance going. C’mon Ireland! We’re doing really well. I mean, I’m loving the Irish film at the moment. Oh my God, it’s incredible.

Just to finish off, do you have any other dream roles?

I mean there are so many! I never want to put it out there and jinx myself. But I think something original would be lovely. And maybe not always singing, just straight theatre, plays. Irish work would be the dream. Currently, it would be to do more Irish work. But for now, it’s Glinda and I’m just going to live in the moment.

Wicked comes to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre from Tuesday 23 July to Saturday 14 September 2024

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