Wicked Witch character still casts a spell

Playing a truly wicked character delights most actors.

So Dani Trinkle was thrilled about winning the coveted role of the Wicked Witch of the West in the Northeast State Community College Department of Theatre’s upcoming production of The Wizard of Oz.

“This is the role I wanted, and I got it,” says Trinkle, an English major at Northeast State. “It is a challenge to play this role because you have to learn to be evil!”

The Wicked Witch of the West (Dani Trinkle) and her flying monkey friend hatch a plan.

The Wicked Witch of the West (Dani Trinkle) and her flying monkey friend hatch a plan.

Taking on a character made iconic by a book, movie, a musical, and a popular revisionist musical, Trinkle studied the character to understand her role in the story.  She says adopting the character means learning all aspects of her character including the walk and voice.

“Every role you make your own,” says Trinkle. “It’s about knowing the character, and as an actor you have to find why she is evil and why she is angry.”

The musical production of Wizard is based on Frank L. Baum’s classic novel first published in 1900.  The film version released in 1939 became a staple on network television and cemented the story’s characters and witticisms into popular culture.

The Wicked Witch character received a makeover in 2003 when the popular musical Wicked hit Broadway.  Adapted by Stephen Schwartz from Winnie Holzman’s book, Wicked told the story of the witch and her sister’s from a sympathetic point of view.

Wicked or misunderstood, the witch’s character makes her a perfect villain to play opposite Dorothy. Evil also flourishes with an army of flying monkeys at your disposal.

“Really she has no one,” Trinkle says of the Wicked Witch. “I decided that her relationship with her monkeys represents the only friends she has.”


Dorothy (Shelby Cade) faces the wrath of the Wicked one.

Like many of her cast mates Trinkle plays a dual character who resides in Kansas and the Land of Oz.  The production opens with her as dog-hating grump Almira Gulch harassing Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and demanding Dorothy give up her dog Toto.  Despite the more mundane costuming and countenance of Gulch as compared to her devilish doppelgänger, Trinkle says the character brought up a new set of challenges.

“Honestly, Miss Gulch is harder to play,” she says.  “I had to get into character of an older woman and do a lot more thinking about how to portray her than the witch.”

This isn’t Trinkle’s first evil stage character. She played a vampiric vixen in Dracula staged last fall by Northeast State Theatre.  She has also performed in The Patchwork Players’ production of Alice in Wonderland at East Tennessee State University as well as Guys and Dolls.

The Wizard of Oz opens the curtain at 7:30 p.m. on April 7-9 and at 2:00 p.m. April 9-10 at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased online now at www.northeaststate.edu.