Exclusive Interview: Fiama Fricano

Today we’re delighted to give you an interview with Fiama Fricano! Ms. Fricano played the Midwife for the entire duration of the San Francisco production, as well as understudying the role of Madame Morrible. Many thanks to Ms. Fricano for the interview!

What was your first professional acting job? What did you learn from the experience?

My first professional acting job was as the niece in Man of La Mancha for Santa Susana Repertory Company in Simi Valley, CA. It’s actually a fun story. I was exhausted after finishing my MFA in Acting at UCLA. My good friend Jim told me about the company and asked if I wanted to audition. I really didn’t want to, but he convinced me to come along for the ride (He did tell me I had to bring a headshot though). When we arrived at the audition space and I saw how relaxed it was. I decided to audition just for a little practice. I ended up getting cast. The first day of rehearsal we were all sitting in a circle getting business done. I was handed a blue folder with the AEA logo on it. An old character actor sitting next to me, leaned over and said, “Welcome to the union. That’s your Equity card.” I was elated and shocked. What good luck.

What did I learn from that show?

1. Trust your friends.
2. Just audition. What can you lose? If you don’t, you’ll never get cast.

How would you describe the character of Madame Morrible? Do you think she’s genuinely evil?

How would I describe Madame Morrible? A lady with an agenda perhaps? Her own agenda to be sure. She wants to be in control. She feels stuck at Shiz University and sees Elphie as her ticket out. I can’t personally view any character as truly evil, it makes it difficult to play. I need to see some reason for her action.

What is your favourite thing about playing Madame Morrible? Favourite thing about your ensemble role?

My favorite thing about playing Madame Morrible is that she is the catalyst for the action. The interesting thing about her is that many of the bad things she does happen off stage. It’s my job to bring the history of those actions and choices on stage. I have to reveal myself as the “mean lady” slowly and only when and how I want to.

My favorite part of the show as an ensemble member was in the Emerald City. The ensemble is setting the scene for Glinda and Elphaba’s arrival and it’s exciting. The fantastic costumes, lighting and orchestrations add to the excitement. I love working with my fan in this scene too!

Fiama Fricano as Madame Morrible

What has been the most memorable blooper you have witnessed – or perhaps been involved in?

Blooper. It think I’ll pass on this one. The next blooper may be my own.

What was the audition process for Wicked like?

The first time I auditioned I didn’t know enough about the show. I audtioned for the LA company and I was just didn’t have a good day. The second time I auditioned I felt I’d done a good job. I had just come off of a frustrating workshop. I think I carried that frustration and anger into my audition. It lit a fire in me and it activated my auditions. I was offered the tour and turned it down. At that point I didn’t think was going to do the show. I told them that if there was an opening in San Francisco I would love to do it. I have a young son and I felt I could commute from LA to SF. They called me back and I was over joyed. I loved doing the show and working SF. It was tough to be away from my husband and son. We made it work. I’m grateful for that. Wicked is a mega hit and I am honored to have done it.

Had you seen Wicked before you originally auditioned for the show?

I hadn’t seen the show the first time I auditioned. I did the second. My good friend Linda Kerns played the same role in LA that I did in SF. I am eternally grateful for her coaching on and insights on the roles.

What were the rehearsal processes for your ensemble role and Madame Morrible like? Was there much of a difference between the two?

I was rehearsed for both roles by our PSM, David Lober. He and I had done Beauty and the Beast at the Shubert Theatre in LA years ago. I like David. He gave me a wealth of information. I learned my movement for the show from Kristen Oei and Allison Leo. They both know the show so well. The were very kind to me and made me laugh. It was wonderful to rehearse at the Pantages in LA. They have a large rehearsal room.

I started rehearsals in LA. I actually rehearsed for 2 weeks, then I had a week off while the LA cast closed their show. I rehearsed again in SF. I’m sure the cast wondered why I was around for so long. Traditionally we only get about 2 weeks of rehearsal before going into a show.

Rehearsal Madame Morrible was a bit more complex. The great thing about it was rehearsing during the day and watching Carol Kane, Patty Duke and Jody Gelb do the show at night. It was built in review.

The SF cast also had an opportunity to work with Joe Mantello. It was a gift that I’ll never forget. Thanks also to Lisa Laguillo.

Which of your costumes in the show is your favourite?

I did love playing the Goat Mid-wife. It was so fun to wear a mask and play an animal.

What were your first performances in the ensemble and as Madame Morrible like?

I had a wonderful first performance of Wicked. I was nervous, but prepared. My first Madame Morrible was right after my Put-in rehearsal. I was tired, but excited to do the show. It’s a fantastic role. Such big shoes to fill. I think I got better as the run went on and I fleshed out the character.

As you know, the San Francisco production of Wicked closed in September. What do you miss the most about the show?

I’m sad that the show closed. I miss the cast and crew. I miss performing. I love hearing the audience. Wicked audiences are fantastic! At the very end of the show I’m up on the stage right platform, after we sing the last big Wicked I would wait just a split second before exiting just to hear the audience applaud. The audience reaction was a wave of love – both astounding and humbling. I felt like a rock star. It was truly amazing.

Are there any dream roles you’d like to portray one day?

I think I would like to play Medea one day. I saw Zoe Caldwell do the show and I was in awe. It would be a challenge. No singing. Gulp.

What advice would you give to aspiring performers?

For the aspiring performers out there – Just keep going. Keep seeing shows, keep doing auditions, keep taking classes. Acting is a lifelong commitment. Follow your dreams they are the pathways to a passionate life.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my Wicked experience!

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