Why a Software Engineer Has Stepped in to Star in Broadway's 'Wicked'
With 24 hours' notice, Carla Stickler was on a plane from Michigan on one of the worst travel days of the years to New York City to star on Broadway as Elphaba in “Wicked.” “I was like, ‘I've got to go. I've got to do this,'" she told Inside Edition.
Software Engineer by day. Broadway Star by night.
Having been given only 24 hours' notice, Carla Stickler was on a plane from northern Michigan on one of the worst travel days of the years to New York City to star on Broadway as Elphaba in “Wicked.”
“I was like, ‘I've got to go. I've got to do this,'" she told Inside Edition. "I love this company. I love the show, and if they need help, I would love to help them.”
Stickler was on her holiday vacation from her full-time job as a software engineer when she got the call on Sunday, Dec. 26. By Monday night, she was sitting in the audience at the Gershwin Theatre. Tuesday, she had rehearsals. And on Saturday, Jan. 1, she put on the costume and went on stage in the leading role.
“I’m not going to lie. I think it might have been one of the best shows I've ever done,” she said, noting the adrenaline rush might have helped with that.
Stickler nailed every line the part has, but for those who know her, that's not surprising. She knows the entire show by heart. Yes, every single role.
“I've been joking that I will be able to do the show when I'm 100 years old. I can do the whole show from beginning to end, every character,” Stickler said.
Stickler is no stranger to Broadway or “Wicked,” the musical that prequels “The Wizard of Oz.” She starred as the green witch in 2015, which happens to be the last time she ever performed the role. She has stepped in over the years as a vacation relief swing and emergency covers other roles, having most recently done so in 2019.
It was in 2015 when she left her full-time career on Broadway industry for new opportunities. She got her master’s degree in education at New York University and taught in the city for while. Then, she took up coding “randomly.”
“It’s been really fun getting to flex a different part of my brain and prove to myself that I am more than just this one thing,” she said, referring to acting.
Returning to “Wicked” in this particular role of Elphaba helped bring her some closure to an old chapter in her life.
“It was really overwhelming and calming, which is kind of an odd thing to say,” Stickler said. “If I never do it again, I'd be really, really happy. At our curtain call at the end, our Glinda, Ginna Claire, said, ‘I don't know how you've been so calm.’ I was like, ‘I don't either, but it's been really wonderful.’”
Stickler was brought back to the show for 10 days. It comes at a time when understudies and swings are being recognized more than ever, as many principal actors have been absent from the theater amid the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Stickler's last show is Friday. During the day, she's worked as an engineer from a hotel room.
“They think it's great,” she said of the company for which she works as an engineer. “They've been really supportive.”
She hopes sharing her story of success inspires young girls to dream big.
“I just hope that they take away that they can love science, they can love math, and they can also love theater,” she said.
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