The 1903 Musical Extravaganza
Book and Lyrics by
L. Frank Baum
The Complete Book and Lyrics of the Broadway Musical.
An Oz Unlike Any Other. The Broadway musical sensation of the first part of the last century was L. Frank Baum’s own theatrical adaptation of his novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It was a triumph on Broadway when it opened in 1903. It even won the praises of The New York Times. Baum’s widely imaginative libretto includes an eccentric cast of characters. There is the anarchist whose bombs never explode, an ex-King staging a coup, a lunatic Munchkin looking for her lost love, and a sassy waitress from Topeka who was caught up in the cyclone too. Dorothy spends little time trying to get back to Kansas as she’s caught up in the political intrigue along with the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman.
In 1901, L. Frank Baum, who had been an actor before turning his attention to writing, decided to adapt his new best-selling novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz into a musical with fellow Chicagoan musician Paul Tietjens. The musical opened June 16, 1903 at Chicago’s Grand Opera Theatre to rave reviews. Audiences flocked to it. The Broadway production ran for an impressive 293 performances and made stars of Fred Stone, the Scarecrow, and David C. Montgomery, the Tin Woodman.
Largely forgotten today, and eclipsed by the MGM movie version, Baum’s musical was the most popular musical of its time and stayed that way for two decades.