BWW Interviews: Jacquelyn Piro Donovan on Getting Green in THE WIZARD OF OZ
BroadwayWorld Contributing Editor Alan Aronshtam recently sat down for an interview with the Jacquelyn Piro Donovan who is currently playing The Wicked Wich of the West in the National Tour of The Wizard of OZ.
How did you get cast in the Wizard of Oz? Did you have to audition? What was the audition process like?
The audition was an interesting one. First, yes, I needed to audition. Sometimes you get lucky and don't need to, but most jobs require auditions. Usually the creative team is at the audition. But in this case, because the team was spread out in Canada and England, Justin Huff at Telsey Casting put me on tape. Then it was a matter of that tape getting to all the appropriate people including Andrew Lloyd Weber. Amazing that I got the job! I don't know how they all agreed when they are not actually together!!
You've been in rehearsals for a while now and you open in a few days time. What has the rehearsal process and tech process been like?
The rehearsal process for me was a bit unusual. Normally when beginning a tour, there would be a rehearsal process with the entire company. Because the Company has been doing the show together for 9 months in Toronto, this was more like being a replacement than starting a new tour. I had a wonderful Resident Director, Dance Captain and Production Stage Manager who taught me the show. I really didn't get on the actual stage deck with the actors until we were in tech rehearsals in Salt Lake. I had a lot of support from everyone in the cast and crew...that always helps a great deal!
What is it like creating such an iconic role? Do you try to give audiences what they expect, or do something totally new?
I think creating an iconic role brings many challenges and joys. I love a challenge and to me, there is no greater one than trying to bring a fresh perspective to The Wicked Witch while maintaining the integrity of the original character portrayed to perfection by Margaret Hamilton. Learning how far I can stretch the boundaries of this character and then playing inside that sand box has been pure joy! After years of Ingenues, I have been waiting for the day that I could unleash the zany part of my personality...here goes!
Did you catch the show in Toronto before it closed? If so, what did you think?
Yes I rehearsed in Toronto and was able to see the show from the audience's perspective. That is always a welcome chance for an actor. Often you have no real feeling of what the audience is going through. I loved the show! It has always been one of my favorite classics. We used to wait every year for it to come on TV...now I am dating myself!!!! My favorite part of being in Toronto was forging a friendship with Lisa Horner. (Lisa played the Wicked Witch in the Toronto production before it closed.) Not shocking, we have the same sence of humor! I learned the Witch's backstage track from her and she was filled with wonderful bits of information, things she had learned during her 9 month run, to make the show easier. I really valued her input. It always seems that you become the best of friends with the people you replace!!
Obviously, you have to get green for the show. What is the process like? Do you use the same spray on makeup used in Toronto and London?
Going Green, as I like to call it, is quite a show unto itself. Technically there is nearly 15 minutes from when I leave the stage as Gulch to my entrance as The Wicked Witch. The time is further cut down by costume changes and the fact that the Tin Man needs to be made silver during the cyclone. We carry a makeup specialist with the show. His name is Michael. I love him. He has managed to keep with the original London/Toronto makeup plot, but add a little something extra that is just for our production. We both wanted to make my witch a little more glamorous...if that's even possible! He uses a Mac Airbrush for all the green. It is amazing to watch him do his thing!! I am grateful to have him.