Idina Menzel as Elphaba and Kristen Chenoweth as Glinda perform Defying Gravity, the green witch's anthem from Wicked, at the 2004 Tony Awards.
For 64 years, we knew how to take The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West: She was the green-skinned meanie who wanted to kill sweet Dorothy, and her little dog, too. She commanded the Flying Monkeys and an iconic cackle. And she looked remarkably like mean old Elmira Gulch, who tried to take little Toto away from Dorothy, before the Kansas girl rode her tornado to Oz.
We hated the Wicked Witch of the West, and a remarkable performance by Margaret Hamilton only enhanced our loathing (ding).
What was that -- "loa-thing, pure and un-adulterated loa-thing."
It's that contempt anthem from Wicked, the hit Broadway musical that turned the whole Wizard of Oz story on its head.
Was the green witch actually wicked? Or was she merely suppressed by a conformist regime led by the Wizard himself? Were she and Glinda actually good friends whose bond was strained by the "good" witch's inability to break away from the establishment? Were they in fact in cahoots to stage the Wizard's banishment from Oz so Glinda could take over and Elphaba could escape with her true love, Fiyero, aka The Scarecrow?
Kinda casts a whole new light on the whole "Wicked" witch deal, eh?
Well, whether you adhere to the original story in L. Frank Baum's novel or the new take, based on Gregory Maguire's 1996 novel, there's no denying the 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz is a bona fide classic and well-worth seeing on a big screen. The transformation from black-and-white Kansas to color Oz is particularly stunning shown floor to ceiling, as it will be at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre. The Wizard is this week's entry in the Kentucky's Summer Classics series. Admission is $3.