Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Marianne Benedict | Interview

Marianne Benedict is currently gracing the stage as The Wicked Witch of The West in The Wizard of Oz in which she took over the role from Hannah Waddingham, She was part of the original ensemble in the show and was recently promoted to full time Wicked Witch. She graduated from Arts Educational, Her credits range from playing Vivian in Dirty Dancing, Understudying the role of Killer Queen in We Will Rock You and Debbie in Debbie Does Dallas. Her other include Miss Mackintosh in The Sunshine Boys, Catherine in The Girl Dusty, Gloria and resident MD in Return to the Forbidden Planet, Sophie in the Misfits (film workshop), Alice and understudy Bonnie in Loveshack, Stella and understudy Polly Baker in Crazy for You and singer in West End Musical Theatre Celebration. I was lucky enough to catch up with her and talk to her about her career...


When and how did you realise that you wanted to perform for a living? Very early on in life, I never stopped singing and dancing around at home and putting on shows.

You attended Arts Educational, what did you learn from them that you still practise or use in your career today? So so much. It really is a fantastic college and I still hear words of wisdom from the staff ringing in my ears.

Is there anything that you didn't learn whist in training that you think is important for young performers to know? You can't possibly learn what it's really truly like to work in this business. Only by getting out there and doing it will you know.



Were there any certain people or performers that inspired you to be on the stage? In my home town there were a couple of amazing performers who were a few years older than me and I just watched what they were doing and wanted to be like them. Talent inspires me.

You've got an impressive Resume, but is there any show that holds a special place in your heart? Probably 'Crazy For You' as it was by first UK tour, I made some wonderful friends and got to play the role of Polly Baker which was wonderful.

Being in the Original Company of this production of the Wizard of Oz must have been an exciting experience, but how does it feel to now be taking on the role of The Wicked Witch of the West? Incredible! I adore playing the part and the company are great. Playing a lead role in one of Andrew Lloyd Webbers shows is a little girls dream come true!

You must have been scared of having to drop down from the roof of the Palladium every night! What's it like doing that? The very first time I looked down I came over in a bit of a cold sweat! Now I'm doing it every night it's no bother at all, it's actually one of my favourite parts of the show as I'm right there in amongst to audience.

After following in the footsteps of the legendary Hannah Waddingham and many other actresses who have played The Wicked Witch, how did you create the character and make her your own? It took a while I must admit as she'd done such a great job of making it her own. When you a play a role you're kind of adding layers to yourself, so I've tried to inject some of my own personality and humour into the Witch and also look carefully at what makes someone truly scary.

Performing eight times a week in the London Palladium is a dream for most performers and you've now accomplished that! But is there anything that you still want to accomplish in your future?
So much! It's never ending really. The main accomplishment is just to keep working and stay happy. If I can pay the bills by doing what I love and be happy in the process than I'm winning.

The show received a lot of publicity from doing the Reality TV search to find the shows Dorothy in which both your co-stars (Danielle Hope and Sophie Evans) appeared and succeeded on, but what's your opinion on these types of shows? When they first came out I wasn't too impressed, but now I think it's great that it's got the general public so interested in musical theatre and also brought forward some amazing hidden talent. If it means that shows like 'The Wizard of Oz' can be put on, bring it on.

The preparation you have to do to look like the Wicked Witch must be a great way to get into character, but is there anything else you like to do before each show to prepare yourself?
We do a full physical and vocal warm up every night. In my dressing room I also make sure I'm drinking lots of water, and I actually find putting on my make up quite theraputic - I always need to belt a few high notes before Act 2 starts!

How does the Wicked Witch compare to the other roles you've played?
Physically and technically it's very demanding, the flying can be hard on your back and you're dealing with trick broomsticks and a moving stage, all whilst wearing huge costumes and a fake nose and chin! It's one of the most fun parts I've ever played though which definitely makes it all worth it.

So what would you like to do when you've finished in The Wizard of Oz?
Who knows…watch this space!

Follow Marianne on Twitter: @Legs_Benedict


Left to right: As Killer Queen (We Will Rock You, Dominion), as Miss Mackintosh (The Sunshine Boys, Oldham Coliseum) as Wicked Witch of the West (Wizard of Oz, London Palladium)
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