It’s easy being green: ‘Wicked’ actress comfortable in iconic character’s skin | Arts and Theater

Lissa deGuzman enjoys being green.

The actress will play Elphaba — the eventual Wicked Witch of the West — in the upcoming North American tour of “Wicked,” coming to Omaha’s Orpheum Theater this week. Steven Schwartz’s Tony Award-winning musical is based on the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” which presents a different perspective of the characters and setting of the classic story, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. ” It tells the story of two women no one ever expected to be friends: Elphaba and Glinda (who would go one to become the Good Witch).

And where there is a wicked witch, there is usually green make-up. deGuzman said the show’s make-up artists can transform her in as little as seven minutes and called the process “incredible.”

“It surprised me the first time when they put it on, that it felt good — it’s something you can’t really prepare for,” she said. “You can’t picture yourself as green until you actually are green … I think it’s super special. I can’t see my face during a performance, but when I see my hands, it’s just another reminder that it’s an extremely important part of (Elphaba’s) story. In a broad spectrum, it’s an important part for a lot of people’s stories. I love being green.”

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It would be difficult to find someone who hasn’t heard the story “The Wizard of Oz,” but the original plot leaves out the backstories of the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch. “Wicked” fills in those blanks in ways the audience may not expect. deGuzman said there is more to the story that literary and film histories have told.

“It goes through a very important friendship between Elphaba and Glinda, how they met, the rollercoaster of their relationship, how much they mean to each other and how they shape each other’s lives,” she said. “It shows an entire journey of growing up and stepping into one’s power.”

Accompanied by widely acclaimed musical numbers, including “Defying Gravity,” “Popular” and “No Good Deed,” deGuzman said “Wicked” is a show that anyone ages “6 to 106” can relate to. She hopes audience members find special meaning in the show.

“There is more to every person, we can’t judge a book by its cover,” she said. “We don’t know what is happening or what has happened in their lives. To judge someone based on looks, just because they are a little bit different, is not helpful to anyone. Take a deep breath and not judge and give everyone a little space to be who they are.”

cbclark@owh.com; 402-444-3118

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