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Margaret Hamilton and Donna Vivino: These two witches aren’t so ‘Wicked’

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

643871 At times, we've all thought of our mothers as the Wicked Witch of the West. Hamilton Meserve's mother really was the Wicked Witch – character actress Margaret Hamilton, who 71 years ago terrified Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz..

Since then, the Wicked Witch has “scared the bejesus” out of five generations,
Meserve says. His mom made such a lasting impression, the American Film Institute in 2003 ranked the witch No. 4 on its list of 50 greatest screen villains.

Hamilton, who died in 1985 at age 82, had a great sense of humor and could make fun of herself,'' says Meserve, who was 3 when she filmed Oz in 1938-39.

Like most kids, actress Donna Vivino grew up with Oz and was a big fan of Hamilton's Wicked Witch.

6673217 “I thought it really cool. I actually liked the witch growing up. I thought she was awesome. I gravitated toward her rather than Glinda [the good witch],'' says Vivino, who now stars as Elphaba, the young Wicked Witch, in the touring company of Broadway's hit musical Wicked, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz.

Wicked – in its seventh year at Manhattan's George Gershwin Theatre and returning to Miami on Wednesday for a three-week run at the Adrienne Arsht Center – is still incredibly popular. The New York production recently broke its own Broadway box office record, grossing more than $2 million in one week.

There's little comparison between Hamilton's Wicked Witch and Vivino's, except perhaps for the green skin.

“It takes about 20-25 minutes to get my makeup done and my wig, and about a half-an-hour to take it off,'' says Vivino, who's been with Wicked a little more than two years.

Wicked is also very different from Oz.

The Wizard of Oz is told through the eyes of Dorothy. This is told through a different lens,'' says Vivino, who made her Broadway debut at age 7 in the 1987 original production of Les Misérables.

Wicked is about the early relationship between Elphaba and Glinda. “People keep coming back to this show. It's the story, the friendship between these two women.''

It seems most everyone has seen Wicked, but not Hamilton Meserve, now an antiques dealer with his wife in small-town Boothbay Harbor, Maine.

“We just so rarely get into New York City,'' Meserve says. We want to see it. I'm ashamed I haven't.''

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IF YOU GO

Wicked runs March 3-21 at Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House, Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

Tickets: $41.50 to $153.50. Visit www.arshtcenter.org or call 305-949-6722 for ticket sales and times and dates of performances.

A lottery will be held daily at the box office 2 hours before show time for a limited number of $25 orchestra seats, cash only, two tickets per person.

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