Miss Gulch Returns!

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Miss Gulch Returns! is a one-man musical comedy written and originally performed by Fred Barton. It is a loose parody of the character of Almira Gulch from the 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz as portrayed by Margaret Hamilton. Although the script alludes to the character of the Wicked Witch of the West (also portrayed by Hamilton in the film) it focuses primarily on Gulch. Blurring the line between fiction and reality, the show builds on the premise that Almira Gulch was an actress—rather than a character portrayed by an actress—who appeared in The Wizard of Oz (as herself), and who has existence beyond that film, most notably as a second-tier nightclub performer.

Plot[edit]

Barton initially appears as himself, and after some brief patter, he takes on the personality of a neurotic single man who encounters Almira Gulch drinking in a cabaret bar, and tries to pick her up. (Being a one-man show, this "encounter" happens through a conversation of which the audience hears one side.) He is so fascinated by Gulch that he adopts her personality for the evening ("You're The Woman I'd Wanna Be"). The number does a slow build until, in a fit of exasperation, Barton turns into "Miss Gulch" before the audience's eyes with a deft "magical" costume change.

As described in the cast recording's liner notes, Almira is an "embittered also-ran." She resents the success and happiness that she perceives in others, most notably Wizard of Oz "costar" Judy Garland, and the show satirizes the cult status of Garland within the gay community. Almira complains that her big musical number ("I'm A Bitch") was cut from the final version of The Wizard of Oz, while Garland achieved immortality by performing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

She describes the evolution of her acid personality by singing of a lonely childhood in Topeka, Kansas ("Born On A Bike"), a parody of Garland's "Born In A Trunk" song from A Star Is Born.

The best-known song from the show is "Pour Me A Man," in which the lead character bemoans to a bartender that he can give her every "liquid entertainment" but the one she wants. The song has been sung in cabaret rooms throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia.

Barton performed a 20th Anniversary version of the show in 2004, adding a song "I Can Be An Icon Too," nominated for a Manhattan Association of Cabarets original song award. The original 1983-5 production won Barton a Back Stage Bistro Award in Musical Comedy Performance.