WESTMINSTER PEOPLE: Suzie Mathers on her Wicked time on the West End stage
Eight shows a week star loves life in Victoria but laments construction works
26 May, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya
PERFORMING in the West End was always a dream for Suzie Mathers and in 2016 she joined the cast of Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre as the glitzy, bubbly, but ever-so-slightly mean Glinda the Good Witch.
But for her it all began rather far away. She began with the show in 2008 in the ensemble over in Australia, and toured around the world with it, before starting in the West End.
“I did the old ‘I’ve turned 30 so I’m going to pack my suitcase and move across the world’ thing. My goal was to work on a West End stage. It made it all worth it,” she says.
The audiences in the West End are some of the best, she adds. “That standing ovation every evening is pretty incredible.”
But taking on a leading role in a West End production isn’t all fun and games.
“The roles of Glinda and Elphaba are two of the top female roles in the world so you make a sacrifice for it,” says the 32-year-old. “I don’t really drink ever, or go out much, which can be tough. It makes you grow up a little quicker than you think. Doing eight shows, it is very tough.
“When you chuck on a pair of heels on stage your weight tips forward so you have to stop yourself falling forward. Here, you get Sunday off you so get to feel like a normal human. In Australia you only get Mondays. Nowadays, brunch is my favourite meal… I am obsessed with the new cafés opening up in Victoria, that is when I catch up with my friends.”
For four years Suzie has played the role of Glinda the Good Witch – a character she says is similar to “the plastics” in teen movie Mean Girls. “Glinda is part of that popular mean girl group. She does something for a laugh and it goes too far.”
But as her friendship with the other witch, Elphaba, grows, her character changes. “That is the amazing thing about the show, it changes your view about what is good about how your circumstances shape you,” she says. “It’s about a friendship from a completely unlikely place that knows no bounds.”
But as the years go by she feels she understands the character more and more. “I don’t know if she is rubbing off on me or if I am relating to her more,” she says.
“As you go through your 20s you learn about yourself anyway… part of it is realising things aren’t always perfect. But in terms of the person she is at the start, I could not be more polar opposite. She is dressed in sparkly pink from head to toe and I usually wear black. She is very much the popular girl, but I am rarely centre of attention.”
Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Suzie moved to Australia when she was seven years old.
“My parents had put me into singing and dancing, I did Highland dancing in Scotland. But when we moved, I lived by the water and I wanted to sail and waterski and do crazy Australian kid stuff, so I dropped out of singing and dancing.”
At 17, she started a law degree at the University of Western Australia, but she discovered her true calling when she joined the drama club. She dropped out and went on to study musical theatre instead. “I decided to give drama school a shot… my parents were extremely disappointed I dropped out of law school. But I’ve never looked back. Now they are my biggest fans.”
“I remember my mum saying to me when I thought about dropping out of law ‘do you think you’re good enough?’ and I said ‘yeah I do’. It is about whether you can have enough confidence in yourself to take that leap to chase your dream. And then give it your all. It is a bloody hard industry.”
Reflecting on her London life, she says: “I do like Victoria, in the last year it has really shot up to become this vibrant hub. I have a real issue with construction. I am from a country that has nothing with any history, so when I come here all I want to do is see the beautiful historic churches and not to see works going on around them.
“But here in Victoria it has been completed so quickly. A year ago there wasn’t much going on, now there is so much.”
In the past Suzie has had roles in Mamma Mia! and a variety of pantomimes and when she finishes in this role later this year, she will be keeping her options open.
“When your training stops it doesn’t mean you stop training,” she says. “Just because you are working professionally it doesn’t mean that you are done.”