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Interview: It's Not Easy Being Green for WICKED's Deguzman at Ohio Theater

Star is looking forward to return trip to Columbus

Interview: It's Not Easy Being Green for WICKED's Deguzman at Ohio Theater

Some nights Lissa deGuzman (who plays Elphaba in the national tour of WICKED) and Jennafer Newberry (who plays Glinda) walk out of a theater together and run into a throng of fans of the 2003 musical.

Newberry is usually mobbed by autograph seekers and well-wishers while deGuzman becomes invisible once she scrapes off her green make-up.

"Jennafer is very recognizable, but I can walk right past them because no one recognizes me," deGuzman said, laughing. "It's become a joke between she and I. I'm not very recognizable because everyone saw me (in green makeup) on stage."

DeGuzman and Newberry will present composer Stephen Schwartz's spin on the Wizard of Oz. The musical, which tells the backstory of Oz through the eyes of the wicked Witch of the West, begins a 23-show run at the Ohio Theatre (39 E. State Street in downtown Columbus) on May 18.

Applying the green makeup or the "greening" process can be as quick as seven minutes. However, deGuzman's makeup artist likes to take her time, applying dabs of dark green here and there with flecks of purple to add depth and texture.

"The first time I got greened, I said, 'I think I am definitely more beautiful green than in real life,'" deGuzman said. "It's a really cool experience you just can't imagine until it's actually happening.

"Sometimes the theaters have showers (to get the makeup off), but often you're there with a washcloth, a sponge, and coconut oil. I try not to go out in public still wearing green makeup. You tend to get weird looks from people not familiar with the show, but you have to embrace it."

This is the second time deGuzman has been to Columbus with the national Broadway Series. The last time was in 2018 when the Belmont University graduate was playing Jasmine in the show, ALADDIN.

"There are a lot of stairs (at the Ohio Theatre) but I remember loving it," she said. "It's a really nice theater. There's always a learning curve every time you arrive in a new city. You have to acclimate your body to elevation levels, dryness, allergies, and seasonal changes."

Elphaba and Jasmine have a few similarities and many differences, according to deGuzman. Jasmine comes from royalty and has a kingdom to look forward to inheriting. Elphaba isn't "set up for success," and is considered an outsider, deGuzman said.

"But here's what Jasmine and Elphaba have in common: everyone judges them at face value. (Not judging someone) is just a cool lesson to learn over and over again."

Being green is something deGuzman has always dreamed of since she was in second grade. She remembers hearing Schwartz's score to WICKED and memorizing every song in the show.

"I used to sing it all the time and listen to it in every car ride," she said with a laugh. "It fed my dream of wanting to sing, act and dance, so making the cast really became my ultimate dream. It feels amazing to have that ultimate dream come true.

"I was getting ready to leave for work (when I found out I landed the role). No one else was home but it ended up being amazing because I got to have a moment to myself and let all those feelings sink in."

Now every time she performs songs like "Defying Gravity" and "For Good," she can't help wondering about the impact she might be making on someone.

"It's a really special show because everyone truly can connect with it," deGuzman said. "It's mainly about this unique friendship between two people who are so different, but once they get to know each other, there's such a bond that can't be broken. Everyone can identify with laughing with a friend, hurting with a friend, and having to say goodbye to a friend.

"The other day we had this kind person at the stage door talking to us about how she lost her brother recently and how seeing the show was sort of therapeutic. She said she cried through the final song 'For Good,' because that was their song.

"I remind myself every night that this may be the first time someone seeing this show. I want to give them that same amazing experience that I got as a child."

WICKED is scheduled to run at the Ohio Theatre (37 E. State Street in downtown Columbus) with 7:30 shows May 18-19, May 24-26, and May 31-June 2 and 8 p.m. shows May 20-21, May 27-28, and June 3-4. Additionally, WICKED will perform matinees at 1 p.m. May 22, May 29, and June 5; 2 p.m. May 19, 21, 28, and June 4; and 6:30 p.m. May 22, May 29, and June 5.

 



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From This Author - Paul Batterson