Here comes the Wizard: ‘Wicked’ showing in Dayton, East LansingWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Tony Award-winner Paul Kreppel plays the Wizard in “Wicked” and although he doesn’t appear until later in the show, it’s worth the wait.
“You’ve got to wait a little, but once you get there, I try not to let you down,” Kreppel said during a phone call from Dayton.
“Wicked” is at the Victoria Theatre in Dayton until June 24 before the show travels to the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Mich., from June 27 to July 8. The musical, based on Gregory Maguire’s novel, tells the origin story of the sister witches from “The Wizard of Oz.”
Kreppel, who has mostly been producing and directing in recent years, said he was encouraged to try out for “Wicked” by several people.
“Finally, I looked at my girlfriend and said, ‘I’m gonna give the agent a call,’” Kreppel said.
Kreppel grew up in Kingston, N.Y., population 28,000, where he got involved in a children’s dance class.
“It was something I always did. I was kind of singing and jumping around since I was 2 and a half years old,” he said.
Kreppel originally wanted to be a comedian and perform at nearby resorts, but changed his mind after getting into high school theater. Still, the actor didn’t do musicals until he attended Emerson College in Boston.
“I knew what a musical was because of ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Bye Bye Birdie,’ but I had never seen one live,” Kreppel said. Eventually, Kreppel joined an improv group that took him to New York City.
“Things kind of fell into place, whether you call that luck or following your path,” said Kreppel, who went on to join “Godspell” in May 1971. Noted lyricist Stephen Schwartz composed and wrote lyrics for both “Godspell” and “Wicked.”
“[Stephen Schwartz musicals] are book-ending my career at this point,” Kreppel said, but added that it’s not over yet.
Kreppel received a Tony in 2007 for his work creating, producing and directing “Jay Johnson: The Two & Only” along with his girlfriend, Murphy Cross.
Kreppel and Cross are also developing a “dark” musical about the children of U.S. presidents, he said. The couple met doing the original Tic Tac commercial in 1974.
“It’s been an amazing ride and it’s still going on,” Kreppel said. “When that roller coaster is in that stage where you don’t know what’s gonna happen, I just throw my hands up and say, ‘Whee!’”
Kreppel may be best known for his role as piano-man Sonny Mann in the ’80s sitcom “It’s a Living.” He also directed some of
“Anybody working in television in the ’80s, there’s a good chance that I know them,” Kreppel said.
Kreppel recalled first arriving in warm Los Angeles in 1979 to make it big in television.
“It was just timing. I got off the plane and I had never been out there before and said, ‘Yeah, I like it here,’” he said.
When not touring, Kreppel splits his time between Los Angeles and New York City.
Despite his 40-year career, Kreppel said he hadn’t toured often until joining “Wicked” in March — and he’s having a great time.
“I’m loving every minute of it and it’s a special kind of person that can do [touring],” he said. “It’s like traveling with your own extended family.”
Although Kreppel hasn’t had a lot of time to explore Ohio, he’s liked what he’s seen.
“It’s beautiful and I love the people I’ve known my whole life from Ohio,” said Kreppel, who will celebrate his June 20 birthday in the state.
Kreppel clearly loves his fellow cast members as much as he enjoys touring.
“Most of them are in their 20s and they make me feel young,” he said. “It’s put a nice bounce back in my step.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun playing the role I’m doing,” Kreppel said. “It’s the biggest show I’ve ever been involved in. Every aspect of the show is a little bigger
To learn more or purchase tickets, visit victoriatheatre.com or whartoncenter.com.