In a season dedicated to ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night, the very first pleasurable fright remembered by most American kids remains a certain green-skinned lady knows as The Wicked Witch of the West.
Certainly Jacquelyn Piro Donovan understands why this particular witch casts such a long and crooked shadow across so many childhoods. She plays the dual role of Miss Gulch and The WIcked Witch of the West in the current tour of The Wizard of Oz, now playing at the Paramount Theatre.
So who is your favorite witch in television, movie, or books?
The Wicked Witch of the West, for sure. No competition!
How old were you when you saw The Wizard of Oz movie for the first time?
I must have been four years old. My parents are big musical fans so we grew up with the influence of The Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady. I think I was five when I went to my first Broadway show. But The Wizard of Oz was special. We would wait every year, around Thanksgiving, for the movie to be aired.
So what was your first reaction to the Witch?
The Wicked Witch really scared me. Her flying monkeys made me bury my head in my mother’s lap!
It’s such an iconic role. Almost everyone can quote at least one or two of the lines such as "...and your little dog too." What is your favorite quote?
My favorite is a random one! When the Witch is melting, she goes “Oh what a world, what a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness." I love it. She is so evil and self centered and she still can’t understand how Dorothy beat her!
So which scene is your biggest challenge in this production?
I have a few. Riding the bike across the stage in a straight line, believe it or not. Singing the new Andrew Lloyd Weber song on a raked castle ten feet up in the air. And melting with a lot of smoke into a closet until the crew gets me out! Oh the glamour of theater! All worth it, every time!
After a tour of "beautiful wickedness," would you like to avoid such characters in the future?
No, no, no! I love these characters. I have waited a long time through many ingénues and leading lady portrayals to finally arrive at this point in my career! I love character parts. The witches have all the fun. I am completely enjoying myself!
Developed from the classic MGM movie musical, the current touring production of The Wizard of Oz contains new songs by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber as well as such old favorites as Over The Rainbow.
The production plays tonight through October 13 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle. See the theater's website for times and more ticket information.