The Wizard of Oz has been a strangely important part of my theatrical career. I know, there’s a yellow brick road; it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but still. The Wizard of Oz was the very first show that I was ever in. I was the tiniest munchkin in OZ. At the ripe old age of four-and-a-half, I was still mature enough to be the head munchkin behind my plywood bush. It was my job to make sure the other munchkins popped their little heads up when Glinda sang. That show affirmed that I really did want to be a professional performer. A career goal that never once wavered.
The second time I did the show, I was the tallest munchkin in OZ. Yep, I was twenty-five, and I spent my time skipping in a circle. I was grateful for the job, believe me! But it wasn’t enough to hold my full attention. So, I began writing in earnest, working on a story of a boy waiting in a window that would eventually become The Tethering.
This summer I am returning to OZ, this time as the Wicked Witch of the West! I am super excited to scare small children into peeing their pants. But there are a few things I’m worried about.
One: I’m flammable. I mean that literally. I have caused so many kitchen fires, fried my eyelashes with a gas explosion, and branded (accidentally) a permanent “D” into my arm. And I’m probably going to have to play with fire… onstage… in front of people.
I’m also scared of the dog. Not because I don’t like dogs; I do like some dogs. It’s just the last Toto we had was… not all there. I think she was a sad effect of inbreeding. She had snaggle teeth, and her eyes were a little crossed. She fell asleep in Dorothy’s arms all the time, so when the barking sound cues went off, poor Dorothy would have to jiggle the dog (who was usually upside down in her arms) to make it look as though Toto hadn’t died of boredom in OZ.
Fire – dog slept through it. Basket on the bike – dog just stared off into space.
The only thing that damn dog ever reacted to was when a flying monkey got stuck on stage and had to hide out of sight behind a set piece. Then Toto went crazy. Barking, trying to escape Dorothy, trying to murder the monkey. It was a little awesome. Well, the monkey didn’t think so, but you can’t please everyone.
Our Toto this round is rumored to be a sane and functional dog. The cast is all lined up and should be great. I think it’s going to be a really great summer. But then there’s this little voice in the back of my head that says adventure is on the horizon. OZ is coming, and that means change is in the wind.