Lindsay Mendez and Derek Klena met when they were cast in the 2012 Lucille Lortel Award-winning musical Dogfight, about a socially-awkward, yet charming waitress Rose Fenny (Mendez) who is asked out on a date by Vietnam-bound soldier Eddie Birdlace (Klena) in a cruel attempt to find the ugliest date to bring to the "Dogfight" — the annual dance held on the soldier's final night before deployment.
Under the direction of Joe Mantello (who also directed the Tony Award-nominated Best Musical Wicked), the two became fast friends and were often seen around the theatre circuit, performing alongside one another at various concerts and benefits.
As Dogfight's limited, world-premiere engagement came to a close at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre, Mendez and Klena were unsure that they would reunite in a musical — seeing as how there were no immediate plans for a future life for the 1963-set musical — until they were enlisted by the Wicked creative team for the lead roles of Elphaba and Fiyero, another pair of unlikely lovers who see beyond one's exterior.
In Wicked, Mendez and Klena, who joined the show just in time for the hit musical's tenth birthday on Broadway, team up with Katie Rose Clarke, who began her journey to Oz on the show's national tour in 2007 before transferring to the Broadway company for a year-and-a-half-long run in 2010. Her current stay in the Emerald City remains through Sept. 22.
Playbill.com sat down with Mendez, Klena and Clarke, friends both off and on stage at Broadway's Gershwin Theatre, in Clarke's dressing room, where they spoke about their individual journeys with Wicked, their first performances, dealing with nerves and the show's imminent tenth anniversary.