|Cheyenne Sandau as the Wicked Witch and Elisa Schine as Glinda in "A Wicked Christmas Carol" at the Center Theatre|
This idea had rolled around in my head for a few years. I don't have many Christmas or other holiday plays published, and was brainstorming ideas for possibilities. I cannot recall exactly how I first thought of the idea as the Wicked Witch of the West as a Scrooge-like character, but when I did, it was fun to imagine other Oz characters in different roles--- naturally, the Wicked Witch of the East could make a perfect Jacob Marley, I thought, only, instead of bearing heavy chains, she would be laden with pieces of the house that fell on her... that was an image that really stuck out in my mind.
|Cheyenne Sandau as the Wicked Witch of the West, and Michelle Fisk as the Ghost of the Wicked Witch of the East in Center Theatre's production of "A Wicked Christmas Carol"|
|Cheyenne Sandau as the Wicked Witch of the West and Laney Reardon as Tip/Ozma in Center Theatre's Production of "A Wicked Christmas Carol"|
I thought "A Wicked Christmas Carol" was a clever title, and people seemed to agree. I immediately went back and started reading Baum's fourteen Oz books, paying special attention to the first book, of course, the only one in which the Wicked Witch of the West appears. I wanted to make sure everything in my play was based on Baum's work, as those are the works that are in the public domain. Though I admire Gregory Maguire's "Wicked" books, and the Broadway musical adaptation, I certainly didn't want to be sued for using their work in any way. The same is true for the MGM classic, "The Wizard of Oz." Which is why, in my play, you will find the details are taken directly from Baum: no ruby slippers, for example, but Silver Shoes. In my play, The Wicked Witch of the West (who has no other name in the book) is named Lina, though no one calls her this anymore. It was a name she gave herself in her youth, after the great Fairy Queen Lurline.
I should note that if you have never read Baum's fourteen Oz books, I cannot recommend them enough. They are a true joy, and it was such a journey getting to live in them for a time. I hope to revisit my citizenship in Oz at some point.
The challenge when adapting not one, but two very famous pieces of literature is to be find the balance of being true to the source material, but also being true to your own voice. I set about writing by going to my local library every day with my laptop, my notebook with all of my notes from Baum's Oz books, and a pair of headphones (when I am in a public place, I can only write if I have some way of blocking out the sounds of the rest of the world--- in this case, I was listening to "focus" binaural beats music). I enjoy writing in the library. When I take breaks, I can wander through the shelves at all of the other books that started by someone sitting down with an idea.
|Will Stecher as Jemkiph, Axel Carlson as Wee Willie, and Cheyenne Sandau as The Wicked Witch of the West in Center Theatre's production of "A Wicked Christmas Carol"|
The Center Theatre, similar to most community theaters I have had the pleasure of working with, likes to have large casts for their holiday plays, including children. Fortunately, this story and setting lends itself to having many characters.
And one of the things I am most proud of? The fact that the play, like the world of Oz, is populated by so many strong female characters. Outside of the Wizard in the Emerald City, the power structure of Oz is very female-centered: The Good Witches rule the North and South, the "Bad" Witches rule the East and West. And of course, after the Wizard is exposed as the humbug he is, and after a brief rule under the Scarecrow, even the Emerald City is ruled by it's rightful heir, Princess Ozma.
While I love "A Christmas Carol", I have always found it somewhat unfair that some of the biggest and most complex iconic roles are for men. I cannot even begin to describe how it felt to watch the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West is haunted by the Wicked Witch of the East, based on the infamous Scrooge and Marley scene, and to see these terrific actresses in my production get the opportunity to play this new version of such a classic moment. I honestly got goosebumps.
|Lee Wilber, Cary Libby and Dan Sharrow as the Ghosts of Christmas Present, Cheyenne Sandau as the Wicked Witch of the West, Will Stecher as Jemkiph and Kathleen Reardon as Joslyn Soforth|
|Elora Kares as The Ghost of Christmas Future, Cheyenne Sandau as the Wicked Witch of the West, Jasper Makowski, Will Stecher, Kathleen Reardon, and Abby Kemp as the Soforth family|
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and a big thanks to everyone who helped me along the way with "A Wicked Christmas Carol." You all hold a special place in my heart.
Now let's try and make this a holiday classic, what do you say?