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Broadway's 'Wicked' casts first person of color to play Glinda the Good

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We have news of a milestone now in this country. The Broadway musical "Wicked" has cast the first ever Black actor to play Glinda the Good Witch, which is one of the show's main characters.

BRITTNEY JOHNSON: My first line is, it's good to see me, isn't it? (Laughter) So that's how we're introduced to Glinda.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That is the new Glinda, Brittney Johnson. She's been an understudy for the role, but starting in February, she'll take to the stage full time.

JOHNSON: I'm really excited to get to tackle it nightly. I know that I'm going to learn so much more about her and make that character even deeper and more evolved.

INSKEEP: Johnson says she was first attracted to the role of Glinda because of their vocal similarities.

JOHNSON: I'm classically trained and so just vocally, I was always drawn to Glinda because that was her vocal range.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHNSON: (As Glinda, singing) Popular. You're going to be popular. I'll teach you the proper poise when you talk to boys.

Then as I got older, still loving "Wicked," I became more attracted to Glinda's character arc. I feel like she changes and develops and grows and matures, and it's something that I feel like we can all relate to.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHNSON: (As Glinda, singing) Know the slang you've got to know. So let's start 'cause you've got an awfully long way to go.

INSKEEP: She's hoping her presence can inspire others.

JOHNSON: People don't always get to hear or see themselves represented in all aspects of the media. I hope that it helps people grow and develop their empathy. I hope that people learn that otherness, that our differences are actually what make us the same.

MARTIN: Indeed. Brittney Johnson will be starring as Glinda in the Broadway production of "Wicked."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POPULAR")

KRISTIN CHENOWETH: (As Glinda, singing) ...A pal, a sister, an advisor. There's nobody wiser - not when it comes to popular. I know about popular. And with an assist... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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