Bewitching time arrives

Popular Broadway show 'Wicked' to open for 3-week run
2013-03-14T00:00:00Z 2013-03-14T11:50:06Z Bewitching time arrivesJohanna Willett For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Green is nothing new for actress Dee Roscioli, who plays Elphaba in the Broadway road show of "Wicked."

She has walked in Elphaba's pointy shoes more than 1,000 times (she hit that mark in 2009 and lost count after that). Next week, she and her fellow cast members swing into Tucson for a three-week run.

We spoke to her by phone while she was with the show in Costa Mesa, Calif.

You've played Elphaba more than any other actress. Has your perception of Elphaba or your connection with her changed in that time?

"Well, I feel very fortunate that I've had the time to kind of relax into the role and to keep trying new things with her. ... I can think about what my take on Elphaba was that long ago. It's nothing like it is now. I feel like that has given me time to grow into this character fully. ... I just feel that there's more depth and understanding on who Elphaba is. She's not just this flat character, and I'm able to understand her better."

How long does it take you to become Elphaba?

"Makeup is done in about 25 minutes. I get to the theater about an hour and a half before the performance and do a light physical and vocal warm-up. Hair and makeup then come in, and I put on my costume and do another light warm-up, almost a meditation, then head out."

The fan favorite is "Defying Gravity." What's your favorite moment in the show?

"I enjoy 'The Wizard and I' because she's so joyful at that moment, and she has never experienced that type of joy in her life. I like 'Popular' because I like to watch Glinda be silly. And I like 'No Good Deed' because it is the mirror image of 'The Wizard and I.' It is her declaration of war on Oz."

What have your experiences with the "Wicked" fans been like?

"You cannot feel more love than you feel from the fans of 'Wicked.' They're dedicated and beautiful, and they love the story. And it's not just me: It's universal - everybody in the show and who has ever touched the show. ... They make room for everybody's interpretation, and it's just a testament to how beautiful and touching it is."

"Wicked" is the untold story of the witches of Oz. Are there any untold stories from the set of "Wicked"?

"It was a scene where Glinda and I get in a fight and Fiyero swings in. He says, 'Get out of here!' and the guards drag him off, and it's dramatic, and I run off stage and hand off my broom and my props. I get my water and chug it. I am not a huge burper, but that day I was. The gun is on Glinda and the guards are waiting, and it's this silent moment. Out of nowhere, I burp. Everyone around me was dying of laughter.... They obviously heard it on stage. It echoed. Any other time I would have been very proud I could produce that sound, but I was so horrified. I completely ruined the moment."

So how do you regain focus after something like that happens, or something goes wrong?

"Sometimes you trip and you can regain focus easily. You're just like, 'Whatever.' But there was another time when the oboe broke during 'For Good' and the musician wanted to keep playing, but it just sounded like a dying cat. Patti (Murin, the actress playing Glinda at the time) and I were in hysterics trying to sing 'For Good' and pretend to cry, but we were hysterical and my hands were sweating. I had to hug her, and she had these perfectly green handprints on her back. We were just trying to hold it together."

If you go

•What: The national tour of "Wicked."

• Director: Joe Mantello.

• Presented by: Broadway in Tucson

• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 1 and 7:30 p.m. next Thursday. Continues through April 7.

• Where: Tucson Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center, 260 S. Church Ave.

• Cost: $45-$165.

• Reservations, information: 1-800-745-3000, BroadwayinTucson.com or in person at the TCC box office, where you can avoid the hefty Ticketmaster service charge.

•Running time: About 2 hours and 50 minutes, with intermission.

•Cast: Includes Dee Roscioli, Jenn Gambatese, Curt Hansen.

•Etcetera: 'Wicked' fans on a budget can still grab a seat at the Tucson Music Hall if they show up two hours and 30 minutes before showtime and place their names in a lottery for $25 tickets for orchestra seats, cash only.

- Johanna Willett

Did you know?

Frank Baum penned his "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" 113 years ago, and a massive franchise was born. He followed that initial book with 17 more Oz-centric novels.

In 1939, the movie "The Wizard of Oz" starring Judy Garland brought the story to the masses. The movie still finds a spot on television.

The adventures in Oz don't belong exclusively to Baum. Gregory Maguire wrote "The Wicked Series," four books that center on life in Oz. One of those, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)" became the musical "Wicked."

Last week, Disney released "Oz the Great and Powerful" which stars James Franco and topped the box office, earning $79.1 million.

Harper Design's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" uses new illustrations to tell the old story. And the recently published "Oz Re-imagined: New Tales From the Emerald City and Beyond" (37North) has stories edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen.

Johanna Willett is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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