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A 'Wickedly' Good Guy

July 26, 2007 By:
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Brad Weinstock
"Wicked" star Brad Weinstock proves his mettle on stage, wearing his latest role as a tin badge of honor. After all, how many Jewish Munchkins grow up to be the Tin Man?

"I did," chuckles the boyish Bergen County native -- now appearing as Boq, the Munchkin with heart who evolves into the Tin Man in the award-winning Broadway musical that has won hearts worldwide, now on stage at the Academy of Music.

How did the 23-year-old get such an important role just a year out of college? He followed his heart -- and the yellow brick road -- which has led him to sterling acceptance in this "back story" of a Broadway hit based on Gregory Maguire's same-titled 1995 book, which took the novel idea of exploring the origins of L. Frank Baum's original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz characters and expanded it in a wonderfully wicked way.

If he only had a brain ... well, Weinstock certainly does, a good one at that, doing well at Northwestern University, then seguing into the Chicago Company of "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," his first professional production.

Can you spell b-a-s-h-e-r-t?

"You know, I think Chip and Boq would get along," says Weinstock of his two characters -- Isaac "Chip" Berkowitz, winner of the 24th spelling-bee championship on a return mission; and Boq, the backward Munchkin -- "who both are dealing with unrequited love."

Which Witch Is Which?
In Boq's case, the galoot's ga-ga over Galinda -- later to become Glinda the Good Witch -- while nosing up to Nessarose -- the Wicked Witch of the East -- to get closer to Galinda.

Which witch is his?

No choice: When Nessarose discovers that Galinda has stolen his heart, she does the same -- turning him into the Tin Man. Ah, when bad things happen to good Munchkins ... it's a story Rabbi Harold Kushner would have appreciated had he fallen right off the bimah into Oz.

Weinstock has certainly fallen for the production -- and the rust-proof plot.

"I seem to keep coming back to 'The Wizard of Oz,' " he says of having first seen it at age 5, "and then playing the Tin Man at camp when I was 10."

Click his heels three times? Weinstock's head over heels with his whole personal history with the hard metal muse.

Does this mean he's celebrating his ... tin ... anniversary with the character?

More like his Bar Mitzvah birthday; it's been 13 years since Weinstock first wondered what he would do if he only had a heart.

No wonder that his own Bar Mitzvah mixed Broadway with the brachahs: For the post-rites ritual, his parents let the future "Spelling Bee" star make a bee-line straight from the bimah for Broadway.

He and his parents got a bus "and took it right into the city [New York] with 50 kids [as guests], and went to see 'Blue Man Group.' Then we all went to dinner in the Village."

Did this Jersey boy know what a big man he'd be when his career would dawn 10 years later?

"I'm surprised myself," he says at the wickedly entertaining path that he's so successfully traversed in so short a time.

And there's no end in sight, he hopes. After all, as for that Yellow Brick Road ... "I'm still at the beginning." And that stage that puts the "Wicked" welcome mat out for him?

"There's no place like home."

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