Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sold Out!

Tik-Tok and Button-Bright by John R. Neill, The Road to Oz,  1909
Full Three-Day Memberships for Winkie Con 50, which include seats at the Saturday evening performance of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, sold out last Thursday. We'll be playing to a packed house. Woo-hoo!

Daytime Memberships are still available, but seating at the evening programs is not guaranteed. Nevertheless, there's still plenty to do and see at Winkie Con 50.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Multiple Faces of Betsy and Hank



Dorothy and Toto by W. W. Denslow, 1900
Betsy by John R. Neill, 1914
L. Frank Baum’s characters of Betsy Bobbin and her mule Hank in The Tik-Tok Man of Oz are variations on Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, who originally appeared in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Betsy from Oklahoma is simply Dorothy from Kansas with a new name and place of origin.

Hank by John R. Neill, 1914
Betsy’s genesis as Dorothy is most apparent in the storm at sea that starts Betsy on her way to Oz in Tik-Tok Man. Baum based this storm at sea on the one that sends Dorothy on her second Oz adventure in the book Ozma of Oz.

In the 1909 version of the stage script Betsy’s last name is Baker, but when the show reached the stage in 1913, she had attained her official last name of Bobbin—perhaps because she enters the story bobbin’ upon the waves.

It’s easy to see that Betsy is actually Dorothy in a different guise. But how in the world did Toto the dog become Hank the Mule? To understand the answer, you’ll need a little history.

Betsy and Hank, 1913
Soon after Baum’s first Oz book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was published in 1900, he set about turning it into a stage musical. The Wizard of Oz opened on Broadway in January 1903, directed by Julian Mitchell of later Follies fame, and produced by Fred Hamlin. The pantomime animal role of a cow was easier than that of a little black dog for an actor to play, so Toto was cut from the play and Imogene, Dorothy’s pet cow, was introduced. In the Broadway show Imogene accompanied Dorothy from Kansas to Oz. The cow’s antics of repeatedly trying to eat the Scarecrow’s straw evidently set the audience roaring with laughter.

Imogene, the Scarecrow, and Dorothy on Broadway, 1903
Ten years later in 1913 The Tik-Tok Man of Oz was one of Baum’s many attempts to repeat the success of the Broadway Wizard of Oz. The reviews of Tik-Tok Man in the Chicago newspapers in particular pointed out the glaring parallels between the two shows. Hank the Mule, as the pantomime animal role, was merely one more of those parallels.

So that’s how a dog became a mule. There was an intermediate step in between—a pet cow named Imogene.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Evolution of the Rose Princess

Portrait of Ozma by John R. Neill, Ozma of Oz, 1907.
L. Frank Baum originally introduced the character Ozma, rightful ruler of the Land of Oz, briefly toward the end of his second Oz book, The Marvelous Land of Oz. In the third book in his Oz series, Ozma of Oz, published in 1907, Ozma takes a much larger role in the story. Baum originally based his stage musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz on that third Oz book.

The earliest surviving version of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is titled The Rainbow's Daughter; Or The Magnet of Love. It's a scenario by Baum dated February 23, 1909. Ozma in that scenario bears little resemblance to the Ozma readers know from the Oz books.

She also differs a bit from Ozma in The Tik-Tok Man of Oz as it was finally produced. In the musical Ozma, the Rose Princess, grows on the royal rose bush in the Rose Kingdom, but the rose inhabitants don't want a female ruler and refuse to pick her. In the Rainbow's Daughter scenario, Ozma instead grows on a bush in a vegetable kingdom, but the vegetable inhabitants refuse to pick her. In both versions Betsy and the Shaggy Man pick Ozma anyway.

Illustration by Neill, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, 1908.
Readers of Baum's 1908 Oz book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz may find the episode familiar. In that story an unnamed royal princess of the Vegetable Kingdom of the Mangaboos grows in the Royal Gardens. But the Mangaboo Prince refuses to pick her. Dorothy and the Wizard pick the princess anyway. The similarity to The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is obvious.

As in the cases of the Shaggy Man and Polychrome, discussed in previous posts, it's unclear which instance of this "Picking the Princess" episode Baum wrote first. Baum conceived of what eventually became The Tik-Tok Man of Oz stage musical as early as 1907. The "Picking the Princess" episode might have been part of Baum's idea for the show before he used it in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Or Baum could have invented the episode for Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz and later incorporated it into The Rainbow's Daughter scenario. Or he may have used the "Picking the Princess" idea in both projects at the same time.

The Rose Princess, illustration by John R. Neill, Tik-Tok of Oz, 1914.
The Ozma who audiences watched on stage in 1913-14 was no longer the same Ozma from the Oz books. So when Baum turned The Tik-Tok Man of Oz stage musical into his Oz book for 1914, Tik-Tok of Oz, he changed the name of the Rose Princess from Ozma to Ozga and made her a distant cousin of Ozma, ruler of Oz.

You can see a fully staged production of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz by L. Frank Baum at Winkie Con 50, August 9, 2014, in San Diego, California. Everyone registered for a three-day membership to the convention will have a guaranteed seat at the show. For details and to register, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Rainbow's Daughter of Oz

Polychrome's first appearance by John R. Neill, The Road to Oz, 1909.
Polychrome, Daughter of the Rainbow, is in a situation similar to that of the Shaggy Man, which I discussed in my previous blog post. Polychrome's first published appearance was in L. Frank Baum's book The Road to Oz in 1909. But did Baum create Polychrome for that book or did he create the character for the stage musical eventually known as The Tik-Tok Man of Oz? 

In 1907 the planned stage musical had been titled Ozma of Oz, but the August 1909 issue of The Theatre Magazine printed an interview with Baum and quoted him as saying, "An extravaganza that will go either by the name of 'Ozma of Oz' or 'The Rainbow's Daughter,' will be put on the first week in October." Baum sometimes exaggerated in his publicity, and here it's clear he exaggerated the timing of this show. It would take until 1913, rather than October of 1909, for it to reach the stage. But Baum was correct in naming the two alternatives for the title of the work. His scenario for The Rainbow's Daughter--dated February 23, 1909, according to Michael Patrick Hearn in The Annotated Wizard of Oz--survives. The action it describes is similar to the stage musical known intermittently as Ozma of Oz and titled finally The Tik-Tok Man of Oz.

The title The Rainbow's Daughter makes it seem that for a little while at least Baum may have considered Polychrome, the Rainbow's Daughter, as the main character in this stage musical. If her role was originally that important, perhaps this indicates that Baum invented the character early in his development of the show, even as early as 1907, and only later inserted her into his manuscript for The Road to Oz. Alternatively, Baum might have created Polychrome for The Road to Oz and been so taken with the character that he integrated her into the stage script, even going so far as to consider titling the show after her. Or maybe Baum simply came up with the character and used her in both projects at once.

Polychrome by John R. Neill, The Road to Oz, 1909.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

First Appearance of the Shaggy Man of Oz

John R. Neill's illustration of the Shaggy Man in The Road to Oz, 1909.
What project did L. Frank Baum create the character of the Shaggy Man for? Was it for the script of the stage musical eventually titled The Tik-Tok Man of Oz? Or was it for the 1909 book in his Oz series, The Road to Oz?

The first published appearance of the Shaggy Man was certainly in the first chapter of The Road to Oz where he meets Dorothy Gale and Toto on their Kansas farm.

But the earliest surviving script for what became The Tik-Tok Man of Oz is titled Ozma of Oz: A Musical Extravaganza in Two Acts and dated April 15th, 1909. It's labeled "second writing" and the Shaggy Man is a principal character in this script.

Which came first, the book or the stage script, both dated 1909? There's probably no way to tell now, but most likely L. Frank Baum was working on both projects at about the same time.

It's possible that Baum created the Shaggy Man for the play and then inserted the character into his manuscript for The Road to Oz. I think the timing makes it unlikely that Baum first put the Shaggy Man into The Road to Oz then later transferred the character to his musical script--but he could have.

We'll probably never know the sequence for sure.

Monday, April 21, 2014

First Draft of the Script

According to this newspaper article, the first draft of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz was written by L. Frank Baum in 1907. It was based on his third Oz book, Ozma of Oz, and the stage show originally had the same title.

The book Ozma of Oz was published in 1907, so Baum seems to have written the first draft of the show about the same time he was writing the manuscript of the book. How detailed the earliest draft of the show was, however, is uncertain, since it doesn't seem to have survived. Baum might have produced no more than a general scenario. He often seems to have exaggerated the truth to make a good story for the press, so perhaps the show was actually no more than a few notes when this article was published in the San Diego, California, Evening Tribune on November 6, 1907. Similar articles about the show appeared in newspapers nationwide about the same time.

The article reads in part:
Friends of L. Frank Baum, the well known composer, have received word to the effect that within the near future the American Extravaganza company, composed of New York and Chicago capitalists, is to produce a new opera from the pen of the gifted Chicagoan.

The name of the new comic opera is "Ozma of Oz," and those who have read the manuscript predict for it an even greater success than attended the "Wizard of Oz," which was also composed by Mr. Baum.

San Diego and Coronado people will be particularly interested in the production of the new opera, inasmuch as it may be termed a Coronado product. Mr. Baum spends his winters every year at Coronado and it was while putting in the winter months here last winter that he composed the opera.

While some of the old "Wizard of Oz" characters, notably the scarecrow and tin man, are to appear in the new story, there are several others that are, Mr. Baum thinks, destined to supersede them, such as a clockwork man called "Tiktok," who thinks, speaks and acts by means of three separate mechanical appliances.
Clearly Tik-Tok seems to have been a prominent feature of the show from the very beginning. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman, stars of The Wizard of Oz, still touring in 1907 after its smash Broadway run, didn't reach the final version of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. In fact, little mention of Oz ended up in the show at all.

Baum had earlier adapted his first two Oz books to stage musicals. The first, The Wizard of Oz, was one of the biggest hits of the twentieth century's first decade and made Baum at the time far more famous as a playwright and composer than as a children's author. The show Baum adapted from his second Oz book was a failure, but that didn't stop him. This third Oz stage adaptation, based on his third Oz book, was destined to be another hit, although it would take a half dozen more years to reach the stage. The newspaper article calls these shows "operas," but they're what we'd call musicals today. 

I'm particularly delighted to be bringing The Tik-Tok Man of Oz back to its place of birth for Oz Con International. It will return to San Diego for one night only on Saturday, August 9, 2014, as part of Winkie Con 50.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Tik-Tok's First Appearance

Here's a color illustration by John R. Neill from L. Frank Baum's 1907 Oz book Ozma of Oz. We see Dorothy Gale and Billina the Yellow Hen discovering Tik-Tok. The copper, clockwork man had been locked in a cave by the King of Ev. Billina found the key to the lock, Dorothy found the cave, and Tik-Tok was introduced to the world.


Neill had a little trouble with the spatial relationship between Dorothy's wrist and Tik-Tok's forearm, but who cares? The bold color and clear, decisive linework make Neill's illustrations for Ozma of Oz delightful to behold.