Back to Oz!
A former actor returned to Broadway to play Elphaba in “Wicked” after the show experienced COVID-related cast shortages earlier this week.
Carla Stickler was previously the understudy for Elphaba in the national tour and Broadway companies of “Wicked,” according to her website.
Stickler stepped away in 2015 to begin a new career as a software engineer, but when she was called back to the Broadway stage about seven years later, she didn’t miss a beat.
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“Last night I got the chance to perform Elphaba on Broadway after not having done it since I left the company full time in 2015. To say it was an incredible moment would be an understatement,” Stickler wrote on Instagram, sharing a video of her curtain call.
“I am so overjoyed to have performed with this amazing cast and crew," Stickler continued. "They helped carry me thru the show last night, and without their energy, cheering me on, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Stickler also opened up about her decision to step away from her acting career.
“When I left the company full time, I was battling with a lot of injuries and health issues. Everytime I’ve been able to step away and then pop back into this show having had space to breathe and process, ive been able to fully grasp the beauty and magic of getting to be a part of something so magical,” she wrote on Instagram.
“Having the opportunity to perform her again after having left the biz is giving me the closure I have been missing,” she continued. “If I never performed again, I could rest easy knowing that something out of this world happened last night.”
Lindsay Pearce, who currently stars as Elphaba on Broadway, praised her stand-in’s performance, commenting “yes yes yes” on Stickler’s Instagram post.
Broadway actor Alexandra Silber also celebrated Stickler in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“Are you in need of some inspiration? Behold. This is my friend @sticklercarla,” she tweeted. “Last week (in the midst of everything) Carla flew to NYC from her new home in Chicago, to answer a call from @WICKED_Musical on Broadway.
“Carla has recently pivoted away from showbiz and taken on a new career in coding. She has not played this role in *SEVEN. YEARS.* And kapow: with a performing itch to scratch and an industry in need, Carla DEFIED GRAVITY last night," she wrote. "Some of us might not totally appreciate what a role like this entails—let alone not having done, rehearsed it, or even THOUGHT about it for SEVEN years. But Carla? Did it. On one of the biggest stages ON EARTH."
Silber continued, “She will return to her life in Chicago with her amazing husband, perfect dog and kick ass coder job— but if she never performs in public again? She knows without a shadow of a doubt that THIS BOW was her last bow.”
Today, Stickler works as a software engineer as well as a vocal coach and teacher. She said her unique career path is proof that people don’t have to limit themselves to one dream.
As she wrote on Twitter, “At the end of all of this, I hope some little girl who loves coding/math/science but also loves music/theatre/art saw this story and thought to herself: I can do both, I can be so many things, the possibilities are endless!”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: