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

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Everyone’s a Critic!

It’s always amusing to run across an unsolicited comment about a show - whether favorable or not! I picked up a postcard recently whose author had just seen The Wizard of Oz - but found it “rather tame after Humpty Dumpty”. In general, the author “M” seems more concerned about a money order and an upcoming trip to the dentist.

The card is postmarked February 13, 1905, and was sent from East Orange, New Jersey. According to the note, the Oz performance was seen on Friday night, which would have been February 10. Consequently, according to the performance history assembled by David Maxine on his Vintage Broadway page, the performance of Oz that M attended would have been in Newark, New Jersey, and part of the #1 company tour.

Humpty Dumpty was a popular pantomime first presented in New York in 1868. It was revived over the years, but a new version played at the New Amsterdam Theater in New York for several months in the 1904 - 1905 season, returning for another month in 1906. It was a large show - according to publicity, 800 people were necessary to make it run. 

There was spectacle to spare, in scenes like the Submarine Ballet, a tableau that was said to incorporate 350 people. 
Humpty Dumpty himself was a silent clown, getting in and out of scrapes, played by William C. Schrode. I haven't found a link but I imagine it's possible that he may have been related to Joseph Schrode, who played Imogene the cow during the run of The Wizard of Oz, as well as the Giant Spider in Babes in Toyland
There was a lost Princess, a Demon of Misrule, a man-eating Ogre, and plenty of Pierrots and other commedia characters. For sheer scale it probably did make Oz look a little tame!


Anil said...

Hi Bill

This is Anil from the Oz Club. Do you know if “Humpty Dumpty” the musical is related to Anna Alice Chapin’s book “Humpty Dumpty” (aka “ The true story of Humpty Dumpty, how he was rescued by three mortal children in Make Believe Land”)?

I was not aware of this musical but am now very curious if the book is a novelization of it when I’d been assuming it was an original work. (Well maybe semi-original as it has Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose, Santa Claus, etc. as characters like half the books in this style,)

I’m guessing you know it as you’ve blogged about the novelization of “Babes in Toyland” she co-wrote but if you haven’t read it you might like it! It’s very much like an Oz book : https://www.loc.gov/item/05034511/ )


Bill Campbell said...

Good to hear from you! I’ve seen the book Humpty Dumpty, but I haven’t read it so I don’t really know anything about it… My initial guess would be that it was an original story, as expanding nursery rhymes seemed a popular trend at the time - but maybe there’s more to it than that!