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‘Oz’ witch thrives on villain role

Dorothy and her friends will try to outwit the Wicked Witch of the West when ‘The Wizard of Oz’ comes to the Scranton Cultural Center this week.

She throws fireballs, twists her algae-colored face into a snarl and threatens sweet, young Dorothy and her little dog, too. So, everyone who has seen the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” easily recognizes The Wicked Witch of the West as evil.

Then “Wicked” debuted on Broadway in 2003, and audiences saw the witch as a sympathetic, misunderstood character devoted to helping the less fortunate.

So, which witch will you see when Broadway Scranton brings “The Wizard of Oz” to the Scranton Cultural Center this weekend?

“Oh, she’s a villain,” confirmed Pat Sibley, who plays the green-around-the-gills bad gal. “This production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was derived from the movie, but she comes off a little more sarcastic, with a lot of quips and one-liners.”

Does Sibley mind being Oz’s answer to Cruella De Vil?

“I love it,” she said.

“It’s my bread and butter. I’ve been playing this type since I was 17,” the actress said, ticking off such roles as Cinderella’s stepsister and Hansel and Gretl’s witch, which she may have landed because “I’ve always been tall.”

While it’s fun to “fly” on her broom, Sibley admitted there are challenges to playing the Wicked Witch. She has to turn her head just right during nine pyrotechnic displays, and she has to wear quite a bit of make-up.

“It’s the bane of my existence,” she said of the make-up, which includes an artificial nose. “It only takes seven minutes to get into it; the head of wardrobe and the head of wigs and I work together. The negative side is it takes 30 minutes to get out of it, so I miss out on talkbacks and autograph signing.”

Because she misses all those talkbacks, is there anything she’d like to say to audience members?

At that, Sibley turned her friendly voice into a cackle.

“Warn them I’m gonna get them,” she said.

“I’ll get you, my pretty.”

If you go

What: ‘The Wizard of Oz’

When: 8 tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Scranton Cultural Center, 420 N. Washington Ave., Scranton

Tickets: $55.50, $45.50, $33.50

Reservations: 344-1111

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