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.

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