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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 'Wicked Witch of the West'
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SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 'Wicked Witch of the West'

An interview with Wicked star Donna Vivino

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN A&E Writer

Wicked
Paramount Theatre
Through October 4


It's easy to be green with envy for Donna Vivino. Why not? She's been working in television since she was 3 years old, and at 8, created the role of 'Young Cosette' on Broadway in the monstrous hit Les Miserables. Currently she stars in Wicked, playing the misunderstood green gal Elphaba, more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West.



Eric Andrews-Katz: You started doing professional work at age 3. What's your earliest recollection of your work?

Donna Vivino: I remember doing a TV commercial when I was 5 or 6 years old. It was for some doll. I don't remember which one.

Andrews-Katz: There's the old joke that people who do voiceovers get residual checks years later for 35 cents. Have you gotten many of those and when did you receive the last?

Vivino: I have gotten many of those. I got a 10-cent check a month or two ago. But sometimes, you get really nice checks, too!

Andrews-Katz: When originating "Young Cosette" on Broadway, were you aware of the London production and its success before you auditioned?

Vivino: I was 8 years old, so my parents were more aware of the London production, but I remember loving the cast recording. I didn't know what it looked like on stage or what it was about, but I liked to sing along to it.

Andrews-Katz: If there were one major lesson to be learned from being on Broadway so young, what would it be?

Vivino: I learned as a kid that you could be in a Broadway show and then find yourself unemployed for years. When I was doing a show [on Broadway] at 22 and it closed, I didn't freak out when I had to wait on tables. I was aware of how jobs come and go quickly.

Andrews-Katz: What do you enjoy most about playing Elphaba, the green witch in Wicked?

Vivino: I really enjoy having the opportunity to play such a strong character for women. Stage and screen roles aren't always the strongest roles for women, and this character is so unbelievable. I like having the opportunity to play a character that stands up for what she believes.

Andrews-Katz: How do you relate with the character of an outcast or a rebel?

Vivino: I definitely relate to her in many ways. As a child I can relate to being an outcast. I was very bright and mature and not always at the top of the list on the playground. I know I was (a little) strange to my peers. Now I think I relate to her as a rebel because in my family I have always been one with my gypsy lifestyle and I have never been a conformist. Elphaba has an activist streak in her and I have that in me.

Andrews-Katz: What are some of your causes?

Vivino: I act up about anything that gets me angry. We did a huge benefit to reverse Prop 8 and I do a lot of work with that. When I was a kid I did a lot of activism for the AIDS crisis. I was 10 years old and being an activist about that when most kids didn't know what it was. I'm very much an animal activist. I won't go to certain restaurants or buy certain products due to my beliefs on animal rights.

Andrews-Katz: Ever have hesitations about the flight harness and flying in Wicked?

Vivino: Not really. I honestly think it's fun and I have never felt unsafe. Not worried at all.

Andrews-Katz: Have you ever been left hanging in mid-flight or have the harness not work?

Vivino: Nope. I've been lucky enough not to have that happen.

Andrews-Katz: How long does it take to put on and take off Elphaba's green complexion?

Vivino: It takes about 20 minutes to put on and usually takes me 20 minutes to get it all off. It lingers sometimes. My hairline is permanently green because it is stained. When you get painted that much, it's hard to avoid. I wear hats a lot, but no one says anything.

Andrews-Katz: What kind of lesson or allegory do you find within Wicked's musical storyline?

Vivino: Definitely not to take things at face value, especially what our leaders say and what the news tells us. Don't blindly follow; investigate on your own. There's a lot to learn about being true to yourself and not being afraid of whom you are despite how unpopular you may be.

Andrews-Katz: What would you like to see made into a musical, and which role would you play?

Vivino: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I want to play Tulla. I loved her character and think it would be a great musical. I think they should make it whether I play the part or not, but I would love to play the role! Donna Vivino started her Broadway career at age 8 in Les Miserables. Since then she has gone on to many other roles and also stared with Martin Short in Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me on Broadway. Being a natural mimic, Donna can be seen on YouTube often imitating celebrities in alternative roles (i.e. Britney Spears in Les Miserables). As for Wicked's return to the Emerald City, Donna says, "Seattle is the one city I have not been to yet, and I'm very excited about being there."

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