ELLE Canada chats with Danielle Wade—Oz’s new Dorothy—about her biggest role yet
Danielle Wade as Dorothy with one of three Totos.
Story and photos by Caley Skinner.
It’s not every day that a 20-year old gets the stamp of approval from Andrew Lloyd Webber, credited with such hits as
The Phantom of the Opera,
Jesus Christ Superstar, and
Evita. But that day came this past Monday for LaSalle, Ontario-born Danielle Wade, who won the title of Dorothy in Webber’s Canadian production of
The Wizard of Oz after competing on CBC’s
Over the Rainbow. As Wade underwent her Dorothy transformation, she filled ELLE Canada in on her thoughts about filling those iconic sparkly red shoes.
When did you first encounter The Wizard of Oz story? It’s probably one of the first movies I ever watched; it’s one of my parents’ favourite movies as well.
So they must be super excited about you winning the Dorothy role! My mom is SO excited, my dad too.
What did they do when they found out you won the role? I looked over at them, and they were bawling their eyes out! My dad was obviously trying to pretend like he wasn’t—he told me his allergies were acting up. I’d never seen my dad cry, so that was pretty exciting.
How did your friends react? Everybody’s been so supportive! It’s amazing how much support everyone got throughout the whole thing. I never would’ve expected any of that.
How were your relationships with the other potential Dorothys? We’re all really, really close. It wasn’t a competition with each other; it was a competition with yourself. It didn’t matter who won, and I said that a bunch of times, because anyone of us would do a good job.
Click through for more from Danielle on life as a brand-new stage star, her beauty routine and what she thinks of Les Misérables
Who are some performers who you admire? Laura Osnes, who won
You’re the One that I Want, and played Sandy in
Grease. She’s one of my favourite actresses. Sutton Foster as well. She’s beautiful! She’s glamorous on stage, but if you meet her in real life… the day I saw her perform, she snuck out through the crowd. She just blended in with everybody. I like Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway. I can’t wait for
Les Misérables to come out. I’m so excited, I saw the trailer and cried. I got to sing "I Dreamed a Dream" two weeks ago, and it’s one of my favourite songs. I’d love to play Éponine.
Do you aspire to a career like Sutton Foster’s (who moved from stage performance to television acting in Bunheads)? At this point I have no idea, because this is all so new to me. I’ve got to take everything as it comes… I’ve never done a photoshoot – I’ve never done anything like this. It’s amazing to be just thrown into it all.
Do you ever get nervous, or are you just excited? Oh, of course I get nervous! I’m nervous for this whole thing. [Actresses] pretend like we don’t get nervous, but we do!
What do you think of the Dorothy shoes? Oooh, they’re so cool. They’re the coolest pair of shoes I’ll ever get to wear. [ed’s note: they’re covered in Swarovski crystals!] There was a whole segment of the show where I learned to walk in high heels. I can do it… not well, but I can do it! It’s funny, in the final performance when I sang "As If We Never Said Goodbye," I tripped! I didn’t fall, but I stumbled as I was walking, and I was like, “Staying true to the end, Danielle!” (laughs) But those Dorothy ones are really comfy, and they fit pretty perfectly!
Are you a natural brunette like Dorothy, or have you had to change you look? Originally I am a brunette, but I just played Elle Woods in
Legally Blonde, so I had bright blonde hair until a couple of weeks before the auditions.
Did you like being a blonde? It was really fun! When I was younger I was blonde.
Can you tell us about your beauty routine? It’s pretty simple: I wear some mascara, and that’s about it! I’m pretty busy—I’m at rehearsals all the time. When it comes to stage makeup though, I’m sure I’ll get into a routine. For Dorothy, she’s a 14-year-old girl, so I’ll have to look very fresh-faced and warm and open. Compare that to the Wicked Witch, who’s going to be green!
So you’re a 20-year old playing a 14-year old. Isn’t that always the way! Yeah, it’s like
High School Musical or
Glee. I always think about that.
It’s like, what high school can I go to where I can find Cory Monteith? I’d be okay if Darren Criss showed up at my high school!
What’s your day-to-day fashion aesthetic? It’s so weird, but I’m kind of everything—as an actress, you’ve got to be a chameleon in a sense. There are days when I want to just wear sweatpants and sweaters, and then there are days when I want to wear a dress. It’s all over the place.
What kind of costumes are your favourite? I really love period costumes and vintage looks. I saw
Bye Bye Birdie, and the costumes in that are so cool. I wish I’d been born in that era [the ’60s]. I love the dresses. As soon as I put on a costume, I’m like, “Okay! This is real! I’m a character now, I’ve got to step up my game.”
So you must get pretty excited about Halloween. I love Halloween. This sounds ridiculous, but for probably five years in a row I was Sailor Moon. I was the Titanic one year—I wore a cardboard box and my dad drew on it. I wasn’t sunk yet… my little sister was the iceberg and I pulled her around in a wagon the whole night. And then another year my middle sister and I were tooth fairies and my youngest sister was the tooth. It was the same costume as the iceberg.
Has it been a long time since you’ve been home [Windsor]? I got to go home last week for a day… well, not even a day, it was about 17 hours. Aside from that, I’ve been away for about two and a half months now. It’s my first time away! My boyfriend is in school in Windsor, too.
So you must be missing school? [Danielle is enrolled in fine arts at The University of Windsor.] Yes, I had to take the year off. But maybe I’ll get a credit for this, since I’m in school for acting. I’ll be getting a
little experience, after all! Dipping my toe in the water!
How do you feel about rehearsals starting next week? Nervous? Excited? Both! I don’t know what it’s going to be like… I don’t have any idea of what’s going to happen.
Do you watch the TV show Smash? I do… that’s my research! It’s a fun show – I want to see the real play [‘Bombshell’]!
The Wizard of Oz
start next week, and the musical opens January 13, 2013. Details at mirvish.com.