The Moneymaker: Jacqueline Hughes, “Wicked” Witch of the West

Scottish thespian Jacqueline Hughes, who goes green as Elphaba, lets us in on her Wicked buys


The Moneymaker
Jacqueline Hughes, 30, defies gravity as Wicked’s green-tinged protagonist, Elphaba. The hit musical, which hits our shores Sep 29, tells the story of the oft-maligned, self-deprecating (not so) Wicked Witch of the West of Wizard of Oz notoriety. The jovial London-based actress, who identifies with her character’s quick wit and humour (“I like to take the mickey out of myself, and Elphaba’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m green. So what?’”), has watched the show about 400 times. “I’ve been on Wicked for six years and started out as swing [an understudy doing various roles], including a standby Elphaba. It meant that I wasn’t on stage every night, and was waiting in the wings preparing to go on at any time if they needed me to. This [international tour with the UK cast] is my first time playing Elphaba and having the role all to myself. It’s an absolute dream come true,” she gushes.

HOME IS: A country home in Berkshire just west of London where she lives with her husband and her dog.

HER RIDE IS: Mostly trains and the Tube, “especially when I’m travelling in and out of London, ’cos it’s quicker than driving”.

WHAT’S IN HER WALLET: She keeps credit and debit cards, membership cards (“but I don’t sign up for that many”) and cash in her Mulberry wallet.

“To prepare my voice for each performance, I have to steam my vocal cords twice a day. I do it with a little ceramic pot with a glass spout that I fill with boiling water [and inhale the steam]. It’s a common item that singers use. Besides that, I drink about four litres of water a day and do a full vocal warm-up for about 10 to 20 minutes before the show.”

“This was my congratulations present to myself when I first [landed the job in] Wicked five years ago. It’s my most-prized possession. I’ve got a few Mulberry handbags — they’re my downfall in life. (Laughs) But they last and the leather ages well.”

“[These Chinese herbal] syrup and candy are probably the best thing I’ve bought in Singapore for [a few dollars]. It’s great for soothing the throat. We get it in Chinatown in London too, but over here, it was all over the pharmacies, and [co-star Carly Anderson, who plays Glinda] and I were like, ‘Yes, take them all!’”

“I really need to look after my skin, especially because taking off the green make-up every night can be quite abrasive. The ‘greenifying’ process takes about half an hour. It takes about 20 minutes to get it all off. It gets stuck in my ears and my hairline, so I have a green halo. (Laughs) I use an organic oil from Dr Bronner’s to remove the green make-up. I have sensitive skin and it makes it easy to take it off.”

“There’s no way I’d ever dress up as Elphaba for Halloween! I dress up every night, and it’s like Halloween every day, so I haven’t dressed up for Halloween for quite a while. But if someone wants to dress up as Elphaba, [I’d advise them to] stand tall and wear that witch’s hat with pride. To greenify the face, we use a green foundation from MAC made especially for Wicked. It’s usually applied on my face, chest, top of my neck and my hands. Make sure you get into all those nooks and crannies and that the colour is evenly spread out ’cos it can get quite patchy.”

Wicked is on from Sep 29 to Oct 16, at the Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands. Tix from Sistic and 

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