Time to perfect my wicked cackle

Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton
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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

In my early days with Spalding Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society, I was fortunate to play some wonderful romantic leading roles such as Laurey in Oklahoma and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls.

There comes a time, however, when no amount of stage make-up and clever lighting can disguise the fact that I am no longer a young slip of a girl.

The turning point for me was in 2013 when I accepted the part of Mrs Overall in the society’s production of Acorn Antiques, The Musical. The die was cast. Once you’ve performed in a hairnet with varicose veins and a dowager’s hump, there’s no going back.

I thought I might be the right age to play the mother in our 2015 play, Family Planning, but instead was cast as the Welsh granny; a flatulent fortune-teller in a flannelette nightie.

In 2016, I had a year off to recover or, as we thespians say as we retire, emotionally drained, to our trailers: “I’ve been resting, darling”.

But the lure of the greasepaint has proved too much and, keen to return to the loving arms of the South Holland Centre, I recently auditioned for the society’s next show, The Wizard of Oz.

There was one role I really fancied this year: The Wicked Witch of the West. There was stiff competition for the part and it’s always hard when you’re up against your buddies at the audition.

But I was so delighted to hear that I was successful. I’m going to relish being a real baddie in a few months’ time.

I’ve been looking at clips online of Margaret Hamilton, who played the witch in the 1939 movie. Using her as my guide, I am practising my cackle and famous lines such as “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too”.

Now that I have the part, I am discovering some similarities with the adorable Mrs Overall as regards posture.

They both walk with a stoop and, although one carries a tea tray and the other a broomstick, it’s only green paint and a pointy hat that separates them.

Of course, Mrs O was from Birmingham. The Wicked Witch has an American accent in the original film but I also play her alter-ego, Miss Gultch, who lives in Kansas. So when I appear onstage, I must remember to tell myself I’m from the Mid-West not the west Mid.

I have a good feeling about this production. We have a fantastic cast with a great mix of regulars and newcomers.

Rehearsals are already under way, continuing on Tuesday and Thursday evenings until our performance dates of May 17 to 20. But there’s still time to be part of the show.

We would love to have more children playing the munchkins/flying monkeys, plus older teens and adults who would like to be in the chorus.

If you want to join me on the yellow brick road, please contact our producer, Jodie, by email at sadosmail@googlemail.com.