The Vivienne

The Vivienne on Becoming The Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is coming to Newcastle Theatre Royal from 16 until 21 April. Just before the big show, we’re catching up with The Vivienne

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK winner and Dancing on Ice finalist, The Vivienne will play The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz when it visits Newcastle Theatre Royal (16 – 21 April), we caught up with her to find out more about getting into character for her first theatre role…

What can audiences expect when they come to see this version of The Wizard of Oz?

It’s the most iconic story ever told, I think, and this version is definitely very true to the original movie, with the amazing Judy Garland, that we all know and love. This version is beautiful, with the costumes, the numbers, the original songs from the film and the new score from Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s produced by Newcastle’s own Michael Harrison, and we’re also being directed by Nikolai Foster, so we’re in the most amazing hands. It’s a treat for everyone.

The Vivienne The Wizard of Oz

How would you describe your version of The Wicked Witch of the West?

She’s glamorous; a Bette Davis, Joan Crawford-esque kind of character. She’s fabulous, a strong woman and very misunderstood, but Dorothy’s a very strong character too. The costumes are out of this world. I tell Rachael Canning (costume director) it’s like The Wicked Witch of the West is going to The Met Gala!

Is this your first stage acting role? Have you found it challenging?

I’ve acted on TV before, but this is my first theatre role. I pinch myself every day. It’s probably been the best experience of my life so far. Just the rehearsal process alone was wonderful – being surrounded by the most amazing, talented and creative people, and for them to welcome me with open arms I feel very blessed.

I keep feeling as though I’ve ended up in Oz, and I’m going to wake up in Kansas once more, realizing it was all a dream. I find myself screaming those iconic lines like ‘I’m melting’ and ‘Fly, my pretties’ into the abyss, and it’s challenging to locate the spots in my voice where that won’t exhaust me every night!

How do you channel your inner witch?

I’ve been watching some of my favourite witches throughout the years, like Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus, and I kind of borrow from them. Along with Bette, I’m borrowing from Angelica Houston in The Witches, Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest.

I’ve made a concoction of all of them, along with the original Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard of Oz film, of course. I actually have a tattoo of her on my leg.

The Vivienne Wizard of Oz

What are you enjoying most about taking The Wizard of Oz around the country?

I love touring. I tour a lot and it’s the camaraderie between the cast that I really love. It’s like you make a new family every six months once you start a new project, it’s about making those bonds as well as getting to put on an amazing show and put smiles on people’s faces.

Backstage is always so much fun and you can’t beat getting to travel around the country. You can’t match it. I’m so, so lucky.

Featuring the iconic original score from the Oscar-winning MGM film, including Over The Rainbow, Follow The Yellow Brick Road and We’re Off To See the Wizard – with additional songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – this spectacular production will be a magical experience for all the family.

Join The Vivienne as The Wicked Witch of the West, along with Dorothy, Toto and their friends on an unforgettable adventure down the yellow brick road to the merry old Land of Oz. There’s no place like Newcastle Theatre Royal when The Wizard of Oz lands for its weeklong run!

The Wizard of Oz plays Newcastle Theatre Royal 16 – 21 April. Tickets are available here or from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 0191 232 7010.