And we're in the home stretch, so let's talk witches. Oz is known for its witches. I've already talked about Mombi in this series (who, even after she had her powers taken away, came back to cause more mischief in The Lost King of Oz and, indirectly, The Giant Horse of Oz and Lucky Bucky in Oz. Blinkie, meanwhile, was a nasty piece of work in The Scarecrow of Oz, living in the isolated kingdom of Jinxland (and she even had three witch friends who helped her with a spell). Faleero is described as a fairy in Kabumpo in Oz, but let's face it, she's a witch. And Singra tries to make a comeback as the Wicked Witch of the South in the aptly titled The Wicked Witch of Oz. But there is, for many, only one true witch in Oz, and that's the Wicked Witch of the West. Her part is actually very small in the original novel that started this whole Oz phenomenon, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, only appearing in one chapter. Even I was surprised at that, last time I reread the book. She didn't even appear in the 1902 stage musical version, the 1925 movie, or the 1933 cartoon. It was MGM's need to give their famous film version in 1939 an ongoing antagonist, and Margaret Hamilton's classic performance, that cemented the image of the Wicked Witch of the West as the ultimate Oz villain. Writer Gregory Maguire, wanting to write a novel about the nature of evil, originally thought of Adolph Hitler, but realized how problematic that would be, so his next thought was the Wicked Witch of the West. (Ironically, there is now a book about Adolph Hitler in Oz!) Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West was an immediate hit, and almost immediately there was talk about a dramatic adaptation. Movies and television miniseries were first brought up, but eventually it became a Broadway musical that opened on this day in 2003, making this Wicked's fifteenth anniversary. And it's showing no sign of slowing down, so I have no doubt that it can go a lot longer. Last night's Halloween concert and the forthcoming movie adaptation just show how strong the story is. So happy birthday, Wicked.