When Emily Perzan was little, she and her grandfather had a Christmas Eve tradition: They’d watch The Wizard of Oz.
They loved the music, the story, the characters — from Dorothy to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
Although Perzan was young, she didn’t mind the film’s famed green villain, the Wicked Witch of the West.
“I never thought of her as being scary,” Perzan said. “She was just another piece of the puzzle, part of the story.”
That turned out to be a prescient take.
Perzan, now an accomplished actress, plays the Wicked Witch in Jam Theatricals’ tour of The Wizard of Oz.
The tour stops Dec. 7 in Kennewick. Showtime is 7 p.m. at the Retter & Company Theatre at the Toyota Center. Tickets still are available.
Perzan grew up in Connecticut, earning a musical theater degree at The HARTT School at the University of Hartford. She later moved to Texas, earning a second degree in American Sign Language.
Perzan returned to the stage a few years ago, and soon earned a spot on the Wizard of Oz tour. It’s been thrilling, she said.
“For me, it’s all about the audience. It’s all about giving back,” Perzan said.
She loves to see little ones marveling at the songs, costumes and performances. And for many adults, the show brings back sweet childhood memories.
“It’s something nostalgic. It was the first movie they ever saw or the first time they saw color on TV,” Perzan said. “There’s such a connection to this story.”
As the Wicked Witch, Perzan sings and plots and earns some big laughs. Behind the scenes, she also performs an impressive feat nightly, transforming from the aged Miss Gulch — Dorothy’s cruel Kansas neighbor — into the bright green Wicked Witch. She can do the makeup turnaround in 12 minutes flat.
The green makeup has a habit of stubbornly sticking around even after she scrubs her face and hands post-show. “The insides of my ears, I think, are going to permanently be green,” Perzan said with a laugh.
But, “I love it,” she said, adding that, “it is an honor to follow in the witchy footsteps” of Margaret Hamilton, who played the part on screen.
The Wicked Witch has an important role to play.
“She’s the person who’s going to help Dorothy figure out there’s no place like home,” Perzan said. “That there are lessons she needs to learn.”
Tickets range from $37 to $72. They’re available through Ticketmaster and the Toyota Center box office. Those purchased through the box office avoid service charges.