Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Caroline Siedle Part 2

This past weekend in New York, I viewed the exhibit Curtain Call at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts. It's an impressive show, with many costume, lighting and set designs as well as actual costumes from theater productions over the past 100 years or so. The exhibition is celebrating the work of women in the technical aspects of the theater, contributions that are often overlooked especially in the early days. Unfortunately, photos were not permitted in the gallery but I did find the image above online at broadwayandme.blogspot.com.

My particular interest was to see costume drawings by Caroline Siedle, who designed the costumes for the 1903 New York production of The Wizard of Oz. There was a nice display of about 16 of her drawings on one wall, as well as a tunic believed to be from an actual costume, although not from Oz. Unfortunately, the information given for Seidle is not terribly good - several costumes are called out as being from The Wizard that I'd be fairly certain are not. A lovely design of a floral costume is labeled as a poppy, when it's clearly a pansy. A costume for a young girl in a large sunbonnet, with a blue-checked dress is labeled as a Wizard design - it's easy to see how this could be confused with Dorothy from the book, but it certainly isn't the stylish young woman that Dorothy was in the musical. A similar design for a country boy in a straw hat is also listed for the Wizard — I think both credits may be wrong.

For those with more current Oz interests, one of the dresses worn by Glinda in Wicked is on display, as well as two of Susan Hilferty's costume drawings for Glinda and Elphaba.

I also picked up a copy of the softcover book written to accompany the show. It can't really be called a catalog since there is no list of all the items in the exhibition, but eight Siedle drawings are shown, including one I don't recall seeing on display. This is a very fun design for a costume and hat with a bumblebee motif, again credited for The Wizard of Oz. Again, I'm doubtful whether this was designed for that particular show.

Siedle designed many costumes for a number of shows, including Babes in Toyland and other extravaganzas. There is little information available on this highly talented woman, and her career was cut short by an early death. Some of the drawings on display bear the stamp of the Metropolitan Opera, where her husband was a prop master. The girl and boy mentioned above and a couple other designs by Siedle, as well as several other women, can be seen at this link - http://www.nypl.org/news/articles/?article_id=255
If anyone is in the area, it's a fascinating exhibit, running until May 2nd.

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