A Wicked Graduate: Blue Valley graduate performs on Broadway, shares experiences with students


Maddie Jewett, Features Editor

Picture this:
A charismatic, outgoing young girl playing video games backstage of a musical.
Giggling and laughing with her friends, there is nothing very unusual about this, right?
Hayley Podschun appeared in her first Broadway show as an understudy of a few of the Vontrapp Children.
She was 11 years old.
A short five years later, Podschun was singing and dancing her heart out in Grease at BV.
Hayley Podschun, Glinda in the National Broadway tour of “Wicked,” graduated from Blue Valley in 2004 with current choir teacher Marsha Moeller as her teacher.
She came back to her alma mater for a Q&A with the choir classes and anyone else who wanted to attend.
She said she grew as a performer because she went to BV, and being involved in a variety of activities strengthened her theater background.
“I was involved with choir, Chambers and Rep Theatre,” she said. “I think it definitely helped having such a strong theater background growing up. I had a lot of vocal training. For me personally, what helped me grow a little bit was [Repertory Theatre] because I was doing so many plays a year, which normally I didn’t do. So, that was really fun and different for me. Also, I really liked working behind the scenes. I remember we did [‘The Complete Works of William] Shakespeare: Abridged’, and I was the one person backstage helping the three guys get all their props and helping them change. It was something different that taught me what it takes to put a show together. Everyone involved in a show is there for a reason, and you really can’t do it without them.”
When Podschun lived in the area, she took dance at Miller Marley School of Dance and Voice.
Since she graduated high school, she has been in numerous performances including “Hairspray,” “Pal Joey,” “Chaplin” and now “Wicked” on Broadway.
She also played the role of Tammy Turner in the movie ‘Hairspray.’
Podschun said she dreamed of being Glinda on Broadway for over six years.
“For ‘Wicked’ I’ve been auditioning for about six years,” she said. “Multiply that by 365 days, and that’s the number of auditions and cuts I’ve had to go through to make it. I originally went in and wanted to play the role of Glinda. I think I was too young and not mature enough yet. Luckily, this was the last time I said I was going in, and I got it. It just all worked out.”
As Glinda, Podschun got a total of four weeks of rehearsal. She said she learned the show in about a week and a half.
“They will roll out a long piece of rope, and it has numbers on it,” she said. “Those are the numbers that block where you have to stand. We have one chance to run the show, and then usually the next Wednesday, we open. And, good luck, because you’ve never rehearsed it with orchestra, and sometimes you’ve never had lights or full sound. So, you just really better be prepared. We call it, in the business, a machine — one person leaves, and the next person comes in. We all just kind of help each other out.”
Aside from “Wicked,” Podschun appeared in the original Broadway musical “Chaplin.”
“[With ‘Chaplin’], it’s fun because you’re creating a role that’s never been played before,” she said. “You’re learning music that’s never been heard by an audience. You’re doing dances that look good with your body type. I think that’s what is thrilling about creating a new musical, and you know if there are certain lines you say differently that the director likes, then maybe that can be used forever. We learn the music, and then we open and get reviewed. We hope people like it.”
Having been in both musicals and a movie, Podschun discussed the differences.
“We’d finish a dance number [when filming ‘Hairspray’], and all of us dancers would be like, ‘Where’s the audience?’ because it was so silent,” she said. “All of us were theater kids, so we missed that reaction from the audience.”
Podschun has worked with many big-name actors such as Zac Efron, John Travolta and various others.
“John Travolta was great — he was like a dad,” she said. “[About Zac Efron,] you have no idea. He’s… those eyes. He’s gorgeous. For me, I feel like whenever I’m around big stars I try not to get star-struck because whenever they go out, they get bombarded by fans 24/7. I try to treat them as equals because it must be nice for them to come to work and be treated just like everyone else.”
Podschun said she taught herself the role of Glinda in ‘Wicked’ from watching YouTube videos.
“I taught myself the show off Youtube because I was so scared — I wanted this role so badly for so long — and I didn’t want to mess it up,” she said. “I knew I had four weeks to learn the show, and I could do it in a day if I needed to because I will do that, but I was so nervous that I would mess it up that I found clips from the show from YouTube, and I put them together. I would run my lines with the characters so I could hear the lines from other people or hear the cues or sounds — a bell or something — and highlight my lines and stuff.”
Podschun said directors typically encourage their actors to bring themselves to each character they play.
“They don’t want you to do something that anyone else has done,” she said. “It’s hard because you have seen so many other things, and, for me being a dancer, my eye goes to certain things a lot quicker. So there’s little things that I’ve learned from, but I’ve always made it my own. I think what’s nice is [the directors] do encourage that, so I’m able to walk away from it feeling like I’ve created it myself, rather than copying someone else before me. Trying to find direction from a show that’s been going on for so long is kind of difficult. You’ll find it easier by playing your own emotions and what you’ve been through in your life personally.”