Lee Slobotkin and Liana Hunt took time out of their busy schedules as members of the touring cast of Wicked to delight a crowd from UMB in the latest Broadway 101 lunch-and-learn at the Hippodrome Theatre.
Slobotkin plays Boq — “I’m the munchkin” — and said being in Baltimore for a four-week run was a homecoming of sorts. “I’m from Philadelphia and I used to come to Baltimore with my father, who’s a TV producer for the Phillies, for their series with the Orioles. I love it here.”
Both he and Hunt, who plays Nessarose – “the girl in the chair” — love the Hippodrome. “We came from the Fox Theatre in Atlanta where the audience was miles away,” said Hunt, who recalled making gestures when she spoke there so those in the back knew who was speaking. “Here when we did the sound check it was like, ‘Wow, we’re standing on top of the people.’ It feels totally different.”
Slobotkin agreed. “I love this theater, it’s absolutely stunning. What a gorgeous space.”
‘Fairy Tale’ Role
One of the longest-running and most popular musicals of all time, Wicked depicts two iconic Wizard of Oz characters’ unlikely friendship, quarrels, and evolutions into Glinda the Good and the much-maligned Wicked Witch of the West. Slobotkin and Hunt, who are in their 20s, said being in such a prized cast this early in life was a dream come true.
“It’s like a fairy tale,” admitted Slobotkin, who recently signed his fourth contract with the show after previous roles in Hello Dolly! and Peter Pan. “This was the show that I saw at age 12 that made me want to become an actor.”
Another subtle hint was when he dressed up as the Tin Man as a 4-year-old to celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim, where children often wear biblical costumes. “It’s my destiny,” he said smiling.
Hunt, whose previous roles include Sophie in Mamma Mia and Katherine Plumber in Newsies, also recalls “hilarious photos of me as a child sitting under a green light at talent shows” doing her best Wicked portrayal.
Behind the Scenes
Broadway 101 is offered by the University’s Council for the Arts & Culture. The 30-some UMB people who attended the meet-and-greet on the third floor of the Hippodrome on April 22 had plenty of questions about the behind-the-scenes lives of actors.
Hunt, who hails from Vermont, admitted she’s homeless, having subletted her apartment in New York when she joined the tour. “I live at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel,” she laughed.
Slobotkin, who described acting as “two suitcases and a dream,” is sharing a house in Fells Point. He says the best idea is “to know someone in the city where you’re playing, stay with them, and pocket the stipend.”
For Hunt, carrying a hotplate, pan, spatula, dishes, and blender in her luggage is a must. Slobotkin, who wears heavy makeup in the show, has found that coconut oil, baby wipes, and sonic facial treatments are essential to good skin health.
They both raved about the food in Baltimore, naming Woodberry Kitchen, Charm City Cakes, Sabatino’s, Cinghiale, Faidley’s Crabcakes, Rusty Scupper, and others.
Do you have to watch your weight? “We can diet in Dayton,” Slobotkin said of their next stop.
Check out upcoming Council for the Arts & Culture events.
by Chris Zang
Photo by Sarah Pick: Liana Hunt and Lee Slobotkin at the Hippodrome Theatre