Chicago software engineer and Broadway veteran Carla Stickler saved the day when she came out of retirement to star in "Wicked" amid a cast shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Stickler had performed in Broadway musicals for over 10 years, several of which she appeared in "Wicked" as an understudy for the character Elphaba, but she left show business in 2015. However, when the call came through for her to reprise the role, the actress jumped at the opportunity.
"To say it was an incredible moment would be an understatement," she wrote in an Instagram post. "I am so overjoyed to have performed with this amazing cast and crew. They helped carry me thru the show last night, and without their energy, cheering me on, I wouldn’t have been able to do it."
In her Instagram post, Stickler also opened up about her decision to walk away from acting, citing health issues.
"When I left the company full time, I was battling with a lot of injuries and health issues," she explained. "Everytime I’ve been able to step away and then pop back into this show having had space to breathe and process, ive been able to fully grasp the beauty and magic of getting to be a part of something so magical."
Although she was familiar with the role, time was limited and Stickler still had to prepare. Speaking with Vulture, she recalled cramming in practice at every opportunity she got.
"I sat in my tiny hotel room and did the entire show for the mirror and sang through all the songs in the shower," she said. "There came a point where I was like, I have to trust that I know it, and just do it.
"The beautiful thing about 'Wicked' for a cover is that you’re shot out of a cannon at the beginning. You run onstage screaming at everybody and then sing this song ["The Wizard and I"] about being excited and nervous and scared, and you channel all of your emotion into that song. That’s what settles me. Once I’m there, I just ride the wave."
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