BWW Interview: Dee Roscioli Chats Orlando Shakespeare's SPAMALOT, WICKED, Hawaiian 'Vog'

BWW Interview: Dee Roscioli Chats Orlando Shakespeare's SPAMALOT, WICKED, Hawaiian 'Vog'

Dee Roscioli has a knack for playing powerful women. Having performed the role of WICKED's "green girl" Elphaba more than any other woman, Roscioli is now taking on the mysterious Lady of the Lake in Orlando Shakespeare's production of Monty Python's SPAMALOT, running from September 9th-October 11th. Visit Orlando Shakes' website to get tickets to see Roscioli and long-time PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Davis Gaines in his Orlando return.

Recently, I spoke with Roscioli about taking a working vacation in Central Florida, and reflected on some of her fondest, if not most dangerous, memories of Oz.

BWW: Welcome to Orlando? How long have you been down here?

D.R.: Thank you. About a week and a half

Ok, so a decent amount of time. Have you gotten to do anything touristy type stuff?

Oh yes I did. I went to Harry Potter World (laughs).

Oh wow, that's exciting.

Yea, that's like the first thing I did on my day off. A lot of the kids in the ensemble work at Universal and Disney, so they had some extra passes; so they really generously lent them to me and another cast member. We had a great time going to Universal, we went to Islands of Adventure; it was awesome.

That's great, and New York is pretty hot in the summer, so this heat shouldn't have been too big of a shock for you, right?

No, no, no, no, this is like a swamp here; I could cut the air. I don't know, New York is not real humid. New York is hot and gross in its own way, because it's dirty, but the air here is definitely a lot thicker. But, you know, the rain is warm, so that's nice. I walked through a puddle yesterday, and I was like, "Oh, it's warm," so that's nice.

I guess there is always a silver lining to everything. How have rehearsals been going so far?

BWW Interview: Dee Roscioli Chats Orlando Shakespeare's SPAMALOT, WICKED, Hawaiian 'Vog'
Dee Roscioli, Davis Gaines and Brad DePlanche.
Photo by Landon St. Gordon

Good. We are all working very, very hard. This show is not one of those shows where you can just learn the lines and put it on its feet and do it. It's very much catered to the actor that is doing it at the time, so we are all finding our way, and coming up with improv, and coming up with stuff that matches the Monty Python style, but is still our own, rather than just regurgitating stuff that other comedians have done. It's been a challenge, but it's fun.

So many people know and love HOLY GRAIL, but that humor is so specific to the MONTY PYTHON actors, how does transition to the stage? Is the humor still something that Python fans will recognize?

Oh, absolutely. All the favorites are still there. I mean, we're not messing with the favorites, it's just the little things here and there that you can update to match pop culture now, as opposed to when the show first came out in 2004.

We have a little bit of freedom with it. You know, you've got to take it all the way to the limit, and fall on your face a few times to figure out what's working and what isn't.

For those unfamiliar with SPAMALOT who is The Lady of the Lake; if memory serves, she's not in HOLY GRAIL, is she?

I don't remember her being in it either. To be honest, I haven't watched the movie in a long time. She might have a little bit in there, but her character is completely new. The take on the character in this show is completely new, that's for sure.

There's a lot of mystery surrounding her, she's the "diva" of the show. She's really the only female lead character. Maybe, she takes herself a little too seriously at times, but that's where the comedy comes alive.

Your King Arthur is Davis Gaines, who is not only an Orlando native, but did LES MIS with Orlando

Shakespeare last year. Has he welcomed you to his home town?

Davis is really wonderful, and he's very welcoming, and so easy to work with. He's a character, and so much fun to work with.

Well, both you and Davis are known for having played iconic characters for a pretty long time; Davis with The Phantom (of the Opera) and you with Elphaba. When you perform a role as many times as you have, what do you do to keep it authentic each time you go out there?
I think part of the trick is keeping it fresh, and remembering that it has to be like the first time every time, but when I was in the mix of doing WICKED, I just reminded myself that it was so much bigger than just me and how I was feeling at that moment. There's always a lot of audience members that hadn't seen the show, and that was actually going to be their first time.

That's part of the job, keeping it fresh. Reminding myself that it wasn't about me gave me the inspiration and the energy to let it do what it needed to do. Each show was kind of slightly different on its own; maybe not to the average theatre-goer, but to me, I allowed it to be like this little amoeba, kind of changing all the time, which let me keep it fresh.

I'm sure that having been a part of the National Tour, going into all of the different cities, and performing for audiences that might not otherwise have the chance to see the show brings a slightly different energy than you get in the sit-down production in Chicago, or on Broadway.

Now, I did hear that one of your favorite tour stops was in Hawaii, but you hated the "vog," am I saying that correctly?

How did you know that (laughs)?

BWW Interview: Dee Roscioli Chats Orlando Shakespeare's SPAMALOT, WICKED, Hawaiian 'Vog'
Patti Murin and Dee Roscioli in Hawaii

A little birdie specifically told me to ask you about that, but I got no other details. So can you give me a little insight into what that's all about?

Oh my gosh! Well, I was so excited to go to Hawaii; it's gorgeous. I was planning on being outside all of the time, and when I got there, my apartment had all of these glorious windows that opened fully, and I was so enamored with them. I opened them all up and for days, I just kept my windows open. It was gorgeous and just the perfect temperature.

And then I started noticing that I was, not getting horse, but sort of raspy. And I was like, "That's weird," 'cause that doesn't ever happen to me. Then I completely lost my voice, but I wasn't sick, and that never happens to me; so I was really baffled.

Then, my dresser was like, "Oh, it's the vog."

And I said, "It's the what?"

She said, "It's the vog, you know, the volcanic ashes that come over from the big island."

And I was like, "Oh yea, of course! What are you talking about?"

So, there's a volcano there that is erupting constantly, but it's always putting this sulfuric acid in the air, and it floats over to Oahu and all of the other islands. They have a vog index, and different days are worse than others.

For the rest of my time (in Hawaii), I had to close my windows and spend a lot of time indoors, because being outside would have affected my voice. So, I'm a little bummed about that.

Oh man, that's gotta be frustrating to be in Hawaii and have to stay inside the whole time.

Yea, I felt like one of those sick kids that has to live in a bubble.
I'd love to know who your birdie is.
Well, before we get to that, do you have any idea how many Glindas you've played opposite?

No, I don't know off hand, I mean with understudies it's been a lot, because I had three when I was on Broadway alone.

I'm sure it's impossible to pick a favorite, but can you tell me a little bit about a few of your Glindas?

BWW Interview: Dee Roscioli Chats Orlando Shakespeare's SPAMALOT, WICKED, Hawaiian 'Vog'
Erin Mackey and Dee Roscioli

I can never really pick my favorite, I loved each and every one of them, because they each brought something really cool and different, and brought something different out of me. So for me to pick someone that is "my favorite to perform with," I would end up naming them all.

Erin Mackey, she was my first one, we'll forever have a bond, because we went to battle together basically learning how to cope with doing these monster roles.

Katie Rose Clarke is just such a great actress. Alli Mauzey, she is such a comedian. The funny stuff that she comes up with, and the way she stays grounded is unbelievable to me. Patti Murin, that girl should be on a sitcom, and has just the biggest heart.

Like I said, there's so many of them, I could just go on and on and on.

Well, I'm glad you ended where you did, because Patti Murin was my little birdie, so she gave me some of the insight on the Hawaii debacle, so I'm glad you got her name in there.

Oh, I love Patti. We have a great time together.

Bringing it back to SPAMALOT, for audience members who are patrons of Orlando Shakespeare, while this show is kind of set around the same time as some Shakespeare shows, this is about as far away from Shakespeare as you can get. So, what can they expect to see from of SPAMALOT?

Well, it's just a lot of downright silliness. If you want a night of laughing, like belly laughing at the most ridiculous nonsensical stuff, and hearing some really great voices and some really awesome songs, and seeing some people who can dance their faces off, then you want to come.

You mentioned the rehearsal process, has there been something that you've seen that has just really knocked you off of your feet, just cracked you up?

Oh, I have to say that Jonathan Weiner as the French Taunter, I saw him do it for the first time the other day, and he is really funny. I laughed out loud. I literally actually laughed, which is a rare case nowadays, and he's gonna be great, because he is also Tim the Enchanter and Lancelot.

Have you seen Dee in WICKED on the road or on Broadway? Are you looking forward to catching her in Orlando? Let me know in the comments below, or by "Liking" and following BWW Orlando on Facebook and Twitter. You can also chat with me about the show on Twitter @BWWMatt. If you want to follow along with my "366 in 366" articles, you can check out #BWW366in366 on Twitter.

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From This Author Matt Tamanini

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