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.

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