Edinburgh Playhouse is being delighted with another musical tonight – The Wizard of Oz, starring The Vivienne. The wholesome story of Dorothy getting whisked away to a foreign land is brought back to life with a stellar cast between February 13 and 17.
The Vivienne, the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 1, is playing The Wicked Witch of the West at The Wizard of Oz musical, bringing the iconic villain to life on stage. So, The Vivienne has given us some tips, tricks and insider knowledge on what it’s like to play the role of The Wizard of Oz, how to channel your inner witch her colourful career and more.
How did winning RuPaul’s Drag Race UK change your life?
“Well, for starters I’m talking to you from a dressing room doing an Andrew Lloyd Webber-written
musical. Every day there’s another thing where I go “What is going on?”. I was very, very lucky to be on the first series and it put me on a platform where people could see what I do. It showed people that drag isn’t just having a laugh in a nightclub.”
“I was joking about the nightclubs being a university but there’s nowhere really you can go and learn drag. There are no courses and it’s not something you can do at theatre school. It’s just something you’ve got to learn yourself and that’s why you’re constantly growing and evolving as a drag queen.”
What couldn’t you be on the road without?
“My stick-on eyebrows. I shaved my eyebrows off because I’m a drag queen, so I have these transfer tattoos – you know, like the ones you had when you were a kid, fake tattoos that look real.
Without them on I look insane walking down the street.”
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. I’ve seen so many interviews where actors say that we all steal and borrow from each other and then put our own spin on things. So 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.”
What makes The Wicked Witch such an iconic character?
“Speaking as a gay man, I was always obsessed with the villain. I wanted to be Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty and Ursula in The Little Mermaid. I was never bothered about the heroine, I wanted to be the evil one. And now here I am, literally painting myself green. It’s fabulous. I’m sure it’s a lot of fun playing the hero in a story but I always wanted to be the baddie, and now here I am playing one of the biggest baddies of them all.”
What can audiences expect when they come to see this version of The Wizard of Oz?
“It’s the most iconic story ever told, isn’t it? And it’s definitely very true to the original material, especially the movie that we all know and love with the amazing Judy Garland. But it’s been kind of brought forward by I’d say, maybe 20 or 30 years. It feels very 50s. It’s got this Vegas-y feel to it.”
You can book your tickets on the Edinburgh Playhouse website.