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Theatre / The Wizard of Oz (1902)

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The first adaptation of the famous Land of Oz franchise, The Wizard Of Oz was a musical based off of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was released just two years after the book, in 1902, and was put on Broadway in 1903. L. Frank Baum himself is the bookwriter, with Glen MacDonough as the jokewriter.

The play tells the story of a girl from Kansas named Dorothy Gale, and her cow Imogene, who lands in the magical country of Oz due to a cyclone. Dorothy must go on an adventure to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz and find her way home. Along the way she meets a cast of colorful characters.

The Wizard Of Oz led directly to Babes in Toyland being produced in 1903 as a Spiritual Successor. The success of the play also led Baum to write The Marvelous Land of Oz. The famous MGM film also takes some inspiration from the play.

The Wizard of Oz provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out:
    • Toto the dog is replaced with a cow named Imogene.
    • Glinda was written out in 1903.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief: The Cowardly Lion is mute and is a pantomime character. He doesn't have his character arc of wanting courage and is mostly comedic relief.
  • Age Lift: Dorothy is now an eighteen year old girl, so that she can have a romantic subplot.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • King Pastoria II is the king of Oz who works as a Kansas motorman with his waitress girlfriend, Trixie Tryfle.
    • Cynthia Cynch is a prototype of Nimmie Amee from the books.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The Cowardly Lion is a bit character.
    • The Wicked Witch of the West is mentioned, but she doesn't actually appear.
  • Deus ex Machina: Dorothy almost gets killed, but another tornado comes out of nowhere and saves her.
  • Early Adaptation Weirdness: The play removes most of the iconic cast of the Oz series. It is a very loose adaptation of the first book with deviations that later adaptations avoid.
  • Fanservice: The production had many chorines, while advertisements promised "GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!" as a way to entice men into seeing the show.
  • Living Statue: Fred Stone spent the entire first half of the show motionless as the Scarecrow in the background. He was so convincing the audience thought he was just a prop — and were amazed when he suddenly hopped off the pole to engage Dorothy.
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • The Tin Woodsman is named "Niccolo Chopper" (the fancy first name exists mostly to rhyme with "piccolo"; there's a whole song about his musical talents). Future books call him "Nick Chopper" for short.
    • Dorothy's surname, "Gale", was first mentioned in this play. It was later noted in canon starting with Ozma of Oz.
    • The Good Witch of the North is named Locasta.
  • Revival: There were revivals in 1934, 1982, 1992, and 2010.
  • Those Two Guys: Fred Stone and Dave Montgomery's roles as the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman were portrayed as this. This production launched them into fame as a comedy team Montgomery and Stone.