From the stage of McCrary Theatre to the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway, one Elon University alumna is preparing to defy gravity — and the odds.
Fifteen years ago, Ginna Claire Mason Moffett saw "Wicked" on Broadway and told her parents at intermission that she was going to play Glinda one day.
Now, she’s preparing to join the cast in just a few weeks.
“I always had this 'yes' mentality of 'This is my dream, and I’m gonna chase after it,'” Mason Moffett said. “It just feels so surreal. I keep saying I won’t believe it’s happening until I’m actually coming down in the bubble. It’s definitely 'pinch me' moments over and over again.”
"Wicked the Musical" tells the story of what happened in Oz before Dorothy arrived in the famous movie "The Wizard of Oz."
Mason Moffett graduated from Elon’s musical theatre program in 2013. After graduation, she moved to New York to begin her career, first touring with "Flashdance the Musical" for nine months.
Then, after a few years of touring with "Newsies the Musical" and performing a show in Las Vegas, Mason Moffett booked the standby Glinda in "Wicked" on Broadway.
As a standby, she was ready to go on for the part in case anything happened to the principle. But after almost a year and a half, Mason Moffett was ready to get off the bench. She auditioned to play the role of Glinda full-time on the national tour for almost two years.
After learning the ins and outs of the character, Mason Moffett says she’s always working to be more like Glinda in her own life.
“I think it’s easy to dismiss her as a ditzy, dumb blonde, and I don’t think that’s true at all,” Mason Moffett said. “I think she has a really big heart. I think she’s very compassionate. I think she’s a good leader.”
At the end of the tour, the directors wanted her to move to the Broadway company. She said she was offered the gig around the holidays and made it official last month.
Mason Moffett said she was never cast as a lead role in all of middle school and high school. It wasn’t until her senior year at Elon that she played a lead role.
“You hear 'no' so many times,” Mason Moffett said. “So it’s one thing to have a big dream, and then it’s another thing to not let rejection get you down.”
Mason Moffett credits much of her success to her college voice teacher, who she said has a heart the size of the universe.
Professor of Performing Arts Cathy McNeela remembers the first day Mason Moffett walked into her office, telling her she wanted to be Glinda on Broadway. But McNeela said what got Mason Moffett to where she is today is more than talent.
“It’s not just that you come in with this talent and you just are,” McNeela said. “It’s all about the work that you put in, and she put the work in. And she flew. And now she’s going to be flying every night in a bubble in the Gershwin Theatre.”
McNeela recalls first meeting Mason Moffett 11 years ago at her audition for the music theatre program.
“People tell me that I’m a really good judge of character and that I always am able to see the kind, loving people in the room,” McNeela said. “And that’s what I saw with Ginna Claire.”
But Mason Moffett left her mark outside the Center for the Arts as well.
President Emeritus Leo Lambert also remembers the first time he met Mason Moffett. She stopped him on the sidewalk, determined he would know her name.
“She was somebody that wanted to be known,” Lambert said. “And she took the initiative to make sure you knew who she was.”
Lambert continued to follow Mason Moffett in both her college and professional career. Looking back at his time as university president, Lambert compares watching students like her succeed to watching his own kids grow.
“You’re proud of people who make that kind of commitment to dedicate years and years of their life and study and hard work to their profession and then realize success at the end of the road,” Lambert said.
McNeela said Broadway isn’t always the determining factor of success. She just wants her students to follow their dreams — whatever they may be.
“Seeing your student succeed and grab the ring and be happy is everything,” McNeela said. “It’s just everything a professor would want.”
In the famous song "For Good" in "Wicked," Glinda and Elphaba sing, “I have been changed for the better. Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” McNeela said this song describes her and Mason Moffett’s relationship. As her student begins to soar into the skies of Broadway stardom, McNeela said she will always be her voice teacher and friend.
“She will always be in my life. Always be in my life. And that is a great thing for any teacher to have,” McNeela said. “Somebody who is always going to be there for you and with you.”
Mason Moffett is currently in rehearsal and will begin her Broadway run on Tuesday, April 9. As for opening night jitters, Mason Moffett feels confident — especially after doing the show 637 times on tour.
“I’ll wiggle my toes in my shoes and get grounded and do my job,” Mason Moffett said. “Keep putting one foot in front of the other, right?”