The good, the bad and the yellow brick road

by Lenise Willis

It’s hard to imagine, but in over 80 years of community productions, Twin City Stage has never before done The Wizard of Oz, which is why the Winston-Salem theatre is tackling the show this month as its biggest production yet.

“While we’re in close proximity to Greensboro (and CTG’s annual Oz production), there are many in Winston-Salem who have never seen a staged production of the story, or who love it and would like to see it at their home theatre,” said Maureen Daly, executive director.

So what will make Twin City Stage’s production different than other local productions?

For starters, there’s a couple of fresh faces to the iconic characters: Cessily Evans as the Wicked Witch of the West and Shannon Lashley as Glinda the Good Witch. Here’s how the ladies feel about filling such big shoes:

Yes! Weekly: What is it like getting to play the wicked witch?

Cessily Evans (Wicked Witch/Ms.

Gulch): It has been an entertaining experience for me playing the wicked witch.

She is so different from my own personality, so much so that in the beginning it was hard for me to be mean to Dorothy or the munchkins. After much practice though, I’ve gotten the hang of it!

Y! Do you practice your cackle often?

The cackle is such an iconic part of the wicked witch; how have you made the cackle your own; and was it scary tackling such an iconic aspect of the show?

Evans: I actually don’t practice it outside of rehearsals. To be honest I had never even vocalized the cackle until I stepped on stage during the audition. I just did it and was pleasantly surprised at what came out.

Y! How else have you made your Wicked Witch your own and unique to Twin City Stage?

Evans: I intentionally avoided watching the movie before the audition because I couldn’t remember her demeanor and nuances exactly, and chose to use that to my advantage. I think I bring, as some of my cast mates put it, “the sass” to the character.

Y! How does it feel to get to fly on stage? Is this your first time flying for a performance?

Evans: I have never flown before. The thought of it made me a bit anxious. I still haven’t gotten to that part yet but I am less nervous about it. I have spoken to other cast mates who say it is indeed a fun experience so I’m just excited now to see how it all pans out.

Y! How do you interact with the good witch off stage? Onstage, is there a little competition there?

Evans: Offstage, I am cool with the good witch (Shannon). She is really talented, helpful and kind. Onstage, there is a bit of competition between the characters I think. The wicked witch knows that despite her wickedness, Glinda still holds the power.

Yes! Weekly: What is it like getting to play Glinda, the Good Witch?

Shannon Lashley (Glinda/Aunt Em): I absolutely adore playing Glinda, the Good Witch! She is funny, witty and a little smarty-pants, too. It’s fun being the witch who gets to play with the kids who are the munchkins, also! They are adorable and bring a whole different energy to the show. Plus, I love both our Dorothys and enjoy getting to dance and interact with them every day. We have such a great bond. It’s a little family that grows with each show we do!

Y! How does it feel to get to fly on stage? Is this your first time flying for a performance?

Lashley: Flying is the quintessential magic of theatre. I’ve flown before and it is absolutely thrilling to make that first entrance and hear the gasp from the audience. That’s why we do what we do. We are telling a story and asking those that are watching to be completely transported for a couple of hours. We are asking them to forget their troubles and struggles and distractions of everyday life and let us drive for a while. It is truly the ultimate high.

Y! How do you interact with the wicked witch off stage? Onstage, is there a little competition there?

Lashley: The wicked witch is so much fun! We kid and giggle with each other and I have truly loved getting to work with and know Cessily. She is so mild mannered, kind and considerate — so it is truly fun to see her transform to that fantastically wicked witch on stage. I never feel in competition on stage; I simply come in and do my work and play. We have a blast working together and we all lift each other up and support one another. As a wise man once said, “A flower does not think of competing with the next flower, it just blooms.” !


Twin City Stage performs The Wizard of Oz Friday through May 1 at the Arts Council Theatre, 610 Coliseum Drive, Winston-Salem. Tickets are $25. For tickets and more information visit or call 725-4001.