Sunday, July 4, 2021

Sunday with Sammy - Part 1

The biggest song hit in The Wizard of Oz was not about getting back home, traveling down the yellow brick road, or obtaining brains, heart, or courage. Rather, the hit of the show was "Sammy," a plaintive paean sung by Mabel Barrison, who played the role of former waitress Tryxie Tryfle, to a "fine and dandy" boy that her heart still ached for.

"Sammy" featured music by Edward Hutchison and lyrics by James O'Dea. The sheet music is far and away the most common title from The Wizard of Oz, and the song was also the most recorded number from the show, with over fifteen recordings on cylinder and 78rpm record, as well as music box discs in various sizes and formats.

Advertisement from Chicago Tribune,  July 13, 1902

Click here to listen to "Sammy" as performed in the 1982 concert version

Over the next several installments of this "Sammy" series of posts, I'll be sharing various stories on the creation of the song, its performance history, and some unusual variations of its published form. 

Below is one of the most interesting of the "creation" stories. It comes from L. Frank Baum himself. Unfortunately, little of the Baum's tale is true—entertaining though it may be. As Paul Tietjens's first wife, Eunice Tietjens, said in her autobiography, "Everything that [Frank Baum] said had to be taken with at least a half-pound of salt."

The following article appeared June 11, 1903, in the Birmingham, Alabama, Age-Herald.

"Sammy" Song Written in a Hurry.

"The 'Sammy' song, which is one of the hits of The Wizard of Oz, was composed by Mabel Barrison like a flash of lightning—or, to be more exact, she wrote the words and set them to music in forty-three minutes," said a well-known musician yesterday. Mr. L. Frank Baum, author of the book of The Wizard of Oz, tells the matter thus—whether he is writing seriously or is having fun must be left to the discretion of the reader:

"She completed the work at 5 o'clock on the afternoon of the initial production of The Wizard of Oz. But at that time Mr. Moulton, the musical director, had gone home to put on his dress suit and he did not reach the theatre until late, so that the orchestra was just being rung in when a rough copy of Miss Barrison's forty-three minute song was handed him, with the request that he orchestrate it.

"Realizing that his time was short, Mr. Moulton began orchestrating 'Sammy' between the musical numbers of the Wizard, but only four bars were completed for each of the twenty-four musicians when the time came for Miss Barrison to sing her song. Nothing daunted, however, the intrepid leader signaled to the orchestra to begin, and then, leaving it to conduct itself, he made his pen fairly fly over the paper, with the result that he kept ahead of the orchestra during the entire song, and the musicians were obliged to pause only at the last note—which delay was not noticed by the audience.

"While the house echoed with applause Mr. Moulton turned to me and, shaking the perspiration from the end of his nose, remarked: 'That, I believe, is the quickest orchestration on record.' Yet so excellently was the work done that Messrs. O'Dea and Hutchison (under which nom d'Apollo Miss Barrison composed the song of 'Sammy') did not care afterward to alter the score save in a single instance—Mr. Moulton, in his haste having inadvertently sharped a note for the bass drum instead of flatting it."

Baum's tongue is lodged firmly in his cheek for much of his story. He even ends the tale with a musical joke. A bass drum is not a pitched instrument. You either beat the drum or you don't. The idea of sharping or flatting the drum, much less upon a specified note, is nonsensical. As is the idea that the conductor of the show could orchestrate a number during a performance.

Neil McNeil as Pastoria and Mabel Barrison as Tryxie Tryfle (1902).
But Mabel Barrison had wanted to make the most of landing the role of Tryxie Tryfle, her first featured part in a show. Prior to The Wizard of Oz, her stage roles had been limited to being a member of the chorus. Wizard was her chance to shine and she wanted a standout number in the show. She probably pushed hard for a show-stopping number, which she found in "Sammy," and she may well have told Baum (and others) that she had been instrumental in writing it, though I doubt she wrote any actual lyric, and certainly didn't write a note of the tune.

Next time on "Sunday with Sammy," I'll tell you a different story about the creation of this "fine and dandy" hit from The Wizard of Oz.

 

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Trollkarlen av Oz - the Swedish Production

In my previous post, I discussed the only British production of the 1903 Wizard of Oz extravaganza presented in London over the 1942-'43 holiday pantomime season. That was the only foreign production until 2016, when producer Dick Lundberg presented a Swedish version of the Baum and Tietjens extravaganza.

Trollkarlen av Oz premiered on February 6, 2016. A second performance was given the following evening. I have seen a video of the production, but am not at liberty to share it. Baum's script and lyrics are performed in Swedish. The amateur production features a cast largely made up of young adults and a few younger children—exceptions being a middle-aged woman wearing a tuxedo as the Wizard, producer/director Lundberg playing both the Scarecrow and Sir Wiley Gyle, the latter played against type as a tall and attractive young man. Lundberg says, "I had to blow up Gyle in the end of the Emerald City part to make [my playing the two roles] work."

The show begins with a computer-animated Kansas scene and tornado, utilizing the "Poppy Song" as underscoring. The show features digitally-created musical accompaniment.

The score for Act I includes "Niccolo's Piccolo," "In Michigan" (Lundberg wrote new music; the original music is not known to survive), "Carrie Barrie," "The Scarecrow," "Love is Love," and "When You Love, Love, Love."

Dick Lundberg wrote two additional numbers, including a song for the Good Witch of the North, "Vindarna i kalla nord" [Winds in Cold North], at the end of Act I, omitting the "Poppy Song" and all of Tietjens's Act I "Winter" finale. He also wrote a new Act II finale "Trollkarlen är inte längre kung" [The Wizard is No Longer King] with different lyrics from the Baum/Tietjens version.

The show's second act (merging Acts II and III) begins with an instrumental version of "Guardian of the Gates." An instrumental version of "Tale of a Monkey" is used as underscoring. The pun-filled "Hurrah for Baffin's Bay" becomes "Hurra för Trollkarlen" with new verses sung by the Wizard and choruses by Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Tinman as they get help with at least some of their requests. "Sammy" is included, as are "Traveler and the Pie," "Must You?,"  "The Sweetest Girl in Dixie," and "I Love You All the Time," the last with new lyrics by Lundberg. The show ends with a tiny bonus scene where the Lion and Imogene get a moment and run off together.

Lundberg, the director of this production, has shared a few promotional videos of himself singing a handful of songs from the show. It's rather fun to listen to these songs in Swedish. Enjoy!

 

"Alas for the Wan Without Brains" or "The Scarecrow"

"Love is Love"
 
 "When You Love, Love, Love"
 
"Sammy"
 
 "The Sweetest Girl in Dixie"
 

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.




Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Wizard of Oz in London

From the earliest days of The Wizard of Oz stage show, the producers tried to get the show to London.

David Montgomery, who played the Tin Woodman from the premiere of the show in June 1902 until May 1906, spent his summer vacations from the show in London. He also tried to interest British producers in The Wizard of Oz. The reports back were always optimistic, but the plans always came to nothing. 

Perhaps the probable lack of Montgomery and Stone squelched the deal. David Montgomery would have loved to have taken the show to London. He seems to have much loved his time spent across the pond). But Fred Stone, on the other hand, hated sea travel. He suffered from motion-sickness, and after he returned from England in Spring 1902, he declared he would never cross the ocean again.

There were additional proposals for doing The Wizard of Oz in Paris . . . in Berlin . . . in Australia . . . but all came to nothing.

Exactly why is hard to say. Some contemporary reports theorized the transfer failed because several West End shows had already stolen some of the most popular songs from The Wizard of Oz's score—but this seems an unlikely reason—Hamlin and Mitchell easily replaced "Sammy" in the United States with several successors: "Can't You See I'm Lonely," "The Tale of a Stroll," "Are You Sincere?"

Perhaps the show was just too American, too different.

But when the MGM film version of The Wizard of Oz premiered in London in December 1939, the story and songs and technicolor were a wonderful escape from the World War that England had entered three months earlier. The film spawned an interest in a stage version, perhaps a splendid holiday pantomime!

On September 6, 1940, Paul Tietjens received a letter from Sargent Aborn [1867-1956], head of Tams-Witmark, "regarding new prospect of London production of Wizard." Aborn had also written to Maud Baum. Tietjens replied that he "thought it best to interview Samuel French myself, which seemed to upset [Aborn]. I said I would wait until he had Mrs. Baum's reply."

I've found no further record of what transpired in the correspondence hereafter. And I am not wholly sure why Tietjens wanted to talk to Samuel French. Perhaps Samuel French was handling the Tams-Witmark catalog in England? Or did the Brits want to use the script of the "Junior League" Wizard of Oz play that Samuel French had published in 1928, but with Tietjens's score?

It is not clear when this production was to have been scheduled. But on the afternoon of September 7th, the day after Teitjens got the letter from Sargent Aborn, German planes appeared over London. The "Blitz" had begun, and no doubt, the London premiere of The Wizard of Oz was going to be delayed.

The "Blitz" lasted until mid-May 1941. Finally, a little over two years after the original inquiry into obtaining the stage rights to the Wizard of Oz extravaganza, the following announcement appeared in the December 24, 1942, issues of The Stage:

The Wizard of Oz will be the Christmas attraction at the Grand, Croydon, where it will continue for an indefinite season. The performance on Boxing Day [the day after Christmas] will mark the first production of the dramatized version in this country. Produced by John McCormick under the supervision of Reginald Fogwell, the company include Gus Chevalier (Cowardly Lion), Max Adrian (Scarecrow), Rolfe Slater (Wizard of Oz), Donald Ferguson (Tin Man), and Lorna Dean (Dorothy), supported by Marjorie Page, George Hurley, and Dorothy Kendall. The corps de ballet of the Allied Ballets, with their premiere danseuse, Mela Carter, and Helena Sidonova, Sonia Arova, and Ronni Martin, are in support with new ballets designed for this production by choreographer Jashf [sic] Crandall.

The cast list does not list any character names beyond the typical Wizard of Oz principals that an audience would know from the film version, but the show is clearly represented as being the American stage show. The most important name in the cast is Max Adrian [1903-1973] as the Scarecrow. One clue that this production may not have been following the Baum script very closely is the casting of film actor and comedian Gus Chevalier as the Cowardly Lion—originally a silent part in the stage show.

The following advertisement appeared in The Norwood News on Christmas day 1942.

I have not been able to locate any reviews of the Croydon Wizard of Oz that might tell us exactly what they did, how closely it followed the American stage version. But the show was a hit!

On January 8, 1943, The Norwood News reported: "Owing to previous bookings, the present highly-successful run of The Wizard of Oz must end on Saturday, January 16 . . ." 

Back in the United States, Paul Tietjens was living in New York City, his finances were fairly tight, and he was suffering from bladder cancer—he had already had surgery on his prostate. In May, Paul and his wife Marjorie moved to St. Louis to be with his sister and her husband. Paul Tietjens died a few months later on November 25, 1943.

In his obituary, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of November 26, 1943, reported: "The Wizard of Oz has been produced from time to time since its initial success in 1902. Mr. Tietjens received a royalty check several weeks ago from Croydon, England, where the old play was revived."

The Wizard of Oz became a popular holiday pantomime in London. The following year they switched to the MGM score, though they may have continued to use Tietjens's incidental music. Baum's script was out, a new script having been written by Janet Green. But the holiday pantomimes retained Paul Tietjens's name as creator.

A vintage three-fold program for the Grand Theatre, Croydon.

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Happy Birthday!

On this date, June 16, 1902, Baum's and Tietjens's musical extravaganza The Wizard of Oz opened in Chicago at the Grand Opera House. Happy Birthday!

Covid-world has slowed my blogging over the last year. But much of the time has been spent researching and writing the next chapters of the book (and some other fun discoveries!) and I will be able to start sharing them with you soon.

Peace and Concord! — David Maxine

 

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The dreams that you dare to dream ...

I am ecstatic to announce that I am the happy new owner of an original poster for The Wizard of Oz extravaganza -- and it is from the original 1903 run at the Majestic Theatre in New York!

Posters from the show are exceedingly rare, and most are known by a single example, and few are in private hands.

Another example of this poster is held by the New York Public Library, though mine (above) is in better condition.

The poster measures 19" x 30" and is lithographed in two colors: a warm yellow and a deep navy blue. It was printed by the Gillin - Print Co. of New York and Philadelphia.

Lithographer's Imprint

I strongly suspect this poster was printed for the post-Chicago but pre-Broadway run of the show, since the red "Majestic Theatre" designation at the top is not part of the original lithographic process, but added in a blank space for each theatre to list its own name. Hamlin and Mitchell had an array of new and full-color lithographed posters printed for the Broadway run by the Russell-Morgan Company.

That might make this the earliest known poster for the show to survive. [Note: there is an early Chicago-era poster of "The Poppy Girl," but it was almost certainly not produced for use as advertising the show, but as a saucy pin-up.]

The imagery for this poster is taken from one of the most iconic photographs of Montgomery and Stone used for the original Chicago publicity blitz. The photo was taken by the Windeatt Studio in Chicago in 1902.

I have long dreamed of owning an original poster for this show, which has become such a large part of my life. I am very thankful to the wonderful and generous seller who wanted to make sure it ended up in the right collection.

Copyright © 2021 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Some Sunshine from the Lady Lunatic

Allene Crater as Cynthia Cynch.

Happy Holidays!

Today I share a report on how Allene Crater, who played Cynthia Cynch (the Lady Lunatic), organized a toy drive in The Wizard of Oz company in 1905. 

Allene Crater took over the role of Cynthia during the original Broadway run of The Wizard of Oz, on August 31, 1903. Just less than a year after she joined the show, she married Fred Stone (the Scarecrow) on July 23, 1904. 

A bit less than a year after that, on June 3, 1905, their first child was born—she was named Dorothy after Dorothy Gale.

And six months after that, while performing Wizard in Boston, we find Allene Crater trying to make the holidays as good for Boston's needy children as I'm sure she and Fred made the first Christmas for little Dorothy.

A display of the toys collected by the company.

Here is the report as printed in the Boston Post of December 15, 1905:

Clarity and generosity, which are ever the accompaniment of the Christmas season, find cheerful expression in the action of The Wizard of Oz company at the Boston Theatre. In this case the object is the International Sunshine Society, or, to be more specific, its dependents, the children of the worthy poor.

Thanks to Miss Allene Crater, who in private life is Mrs. Fred Stone, the wife of the famous comedian, a movement was started several days ago to secure a bountiful Christmas box for the Sunshine Society. Every member of The Wizard of Oz company put in his contribution and yesterday the whole collection of Christmas toys and trinkets, as varied as there were individual contributors, was arrayed for inspection in the property room. The apartment itself was beautifully decorated and, filled with all these Christmas offerings, it looked to be a veritable fairyland.

The scope of the International Sunshine Society, in brief, is to care for all classes of unfortunates, more especially the children, and it reaches out its protecting arm to orphans, homeless ones of every color, race and creed, the limp, the blind, the sick and destitute, wherever and whenever found.


Copyright © 2020 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Pandemic Performance of 1918

I am always excited when a later performance of The Wizard of Oz is discovered. I am most grateful to musicologist Joseph Rubin for pointing me toward this one. It couldn't be more timely, given these performances were presented over Thanksgiving week in the midst of a pandemic and after a multi-week shutdown of all the theatres. 

Everything old is new again . . .


One hundred and two years ago, on Thanksgiving day of 1918, the United States was in the midst of the Spanish Flu pandemic. In Columbus, Ohio, audiences threw caution to the wind—the wind of a tornado in The Wizard of Oz.

The "cyclonic success" was playing a full week at the Grand Theater, opening Monday, November 25th, and closing after the Sunday night performance on December 1st. They did three matinees, too: Wednesday, Saturday, and Thanksgiving.

The Columbus Sunday Dispatch of November 24, 1918, laid it all out:

Extravaganza in Stock

The Wizard of Oz, a fairy extravaganza that set a new standard for beauty of staging, and was the cornerstone of the enormous reputation achieved by that famous team of comedians, Montgomery and Stone, is to be this week's production at the Grand. The novelty and originality of its characters, strange eccentric figure of the Scarecrow, which Roger Gray has played oftener than anyone except Stone, [untrue, see below] the weird Tin Man, the screamingly funny antics of the cow, named "Imogene," and the paradoxical figure of the Cowardly Lion, together with the appealing little girl Dorothy, and all the other funny and interesting characters of this piece, made it, and still keep it, one of the oddest, most fascinating and alluring of all musical productions. It is not often attempted by stock companies.

With Mr. Harris' usual desire to procure the very best obtainable for the patrons of the Grand, a special engagement for this one week has been made of Phil Dwyer, one of the foremost pantomimists in this country to play two important silent roles of the lion and the cow. Mr. Dwyer is an animal impersonator of great ability, and made sensation in New York some little time ago, as the lion, in the production of Androcles and the Lion, which was produced by Granville Barker at Wallack's theater.

A postcard advertising Phil Dwyer's vaudeville act (note the lion).

The story of The Wizard of Oz is well known to all, it being an adaptation from the well-known fairy stories of Frank Baum, and tells of the adventures of little Dorothy Gale, who is blown away with her pet cow, Imogene, from her Kansas home during a terrific cyclone. They land in the kingdom of Oz, and there she is befriended by a good fairy, who grants her three wishes. In her loneliness, she unthinkingly wishes that the Scarecrow in the field was alive, and immediately he becomes endowed with life, and joins her in her journey to find the Wizard of Oz, a fakir who rules the Emerald City. In their travels they discover a Man of Tin, who also goes along with them to the Emerald City. Through numerous exciting and funny adventures they wend their way, and become implicated in a conspiracy against the Wizard, [sic] which leads to the subsequent imprisonment of the Scarecrow and the Tin Man, and their release by the novel expedient of dismembering the Scarecrow and putting him together again, and finally, through the good offices of their guardian the good fairy, they are enabled to return to the earth.

All of the many beautiful effects incident to the production of this delightful fairy extravaganza have been built and the cyclone, the snowstorm, the wonderful field of poppies, and all the magical effects of Oz will be given as in the original production.

Among the many beautiful numbers that will enhance the score are 'Niccolo's Piccolo,' 'Love is Love,' 'The Man Without Brains,' 'When you Love, Love, Love,' 'The Traveler and the Pie,' 'Reincarnation,' and a host of clever dancing and singing specialty numbers by Roger Gray, Dan Marble and all the other favorites of the company.

Postcard showing Olentangy Park Theatre, Columbus, Ohio.
That was quite a write-up—no wonder audiences flocked to the theatre. The article is wrong about Roger Gray playing the Scarecrow "oftener than anyone except Stone." Both Bert Swor and George Stone played more performances than Roger Gray. But Gray was an important Scarecrow and he was involved in most of the post-Hurtig and Seamon revivals: Minneapolis; St. Louis; Washington, DC; and this one in Columbus.

Several other members of the cast were also Wizard of Oz veterans. Dan Marble had played the Tin Woodman in the 1915 Park Opera Co. performances in St. Louis, and both Della Rose had played Tryxie Tryfle, and Ralph Nichols had played Sir Wiley Gyle at Poli's Theatre in the Washington, DC, performances of April 1918, only two months before arriving in Columbus.

Sheet music for "Re-Incarnation."

You might, too, have noticed an unfamiliar song title listed--that of "Reincarnation." This new interpolation is almost certainly "Re-Incarnation," a song from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1907 with music by E. Ray Goetz and lyrics by Vincent Bryan.

 Bryan actually wrote many songs used in The Wizard of Oz: "Hurrah for Baffin's Bay," "Football," "Down on the Brandywine," "'Twas Enough to Make a Perfect Lady Mad," and quite a few others, including "Budweiser's a Friend of Mine," which was also interpolated from the Follies of 1907

The song explains about reincarnation and suggests how famous people of the era might be reincarnated, such as Teddy Roosevelt coming back as a teddy bear, and William Randolph Hearst coming back as Democrat! No program for this Wizard revival has surfaced, so it's unclear which character performed the song. I'd like to think the Scarecrow and Tin Man sang "Re-Incarnation" after they dismembered and reassembled the Scarecrow.

The stock company performing Wizard was billed as "The Grand Musical Players," but when they had first arrived in Columbus, six months earlier, they had been the "Grau Musical Comedy Co." The story behind the name change and their lengthy stay in Columbus follows below.

The Columbus Dispatch of May 19, 1918, announced that the Grau Musical Comedy Co. (organized by Matt Grau) would open an extended summer season at the outdoor Olentangy Park theater. The company arrived from New York (in a special train car) on May 26th and began rehearsals for Rudolph Friml's The Firefly, which opened on June 3rd.

The company included: prima donna Ferne Rogers, soubrette Berta Donn, character woman Flavio [sic] Acara, juvenile girl Della Rose, small part girl Mary Dunigan, tenor Arthur Burckly, juvenile man George Nathanson, basso Ditmar Poppen, first comedian Roger Gray, second comedian Dan Marble, general utilities: Ralph Nichols, orchestra leader Sid Riley, scenic artist Earnest Rand, costumer Henrietta Hausen, and parts: Rajal Cuttes. There was also a chorus of sixteen girls and at least eight men.

The principal cast in The Columbus Sunday Dispatch, May 26, 1918.  
The company opened their season with The Firefly, followed by: The Red Mill, A Modern Eve, Robin Hood, The Princess Pat, Naught Marietta, The Folly of Columbus, Little Boy Blue, The Only Girl, The Chocolate Soldier, The Red Widow, and The Mikado.

The company was so popular that Will Harris, manager of the Olentangy Park Theater, asked the company to move to the Grand Theatre and stay for the winter. He spent $10,000 refurbishing the theater, which had been serving as a movie house in recent years.

The Grau Musical Comedy Co. opened at the Grand Theater on August 26, 1918. Rebranded as The Grand Musical Players, their first show was Sweethearts, followed by The Candy Shop, The Lilac Domino, A Waltz Dream, and The Three Twins. 

And then the pandemic shut them down.

*          *          *          *          *

In March 1918, a new flu-like illness began appearing in the United States, with more than a hundred soldiers falling ill at Camp Funston in Fort Riley, Kansas. On April 5, 1918, the public health report mentions influenza by name and reports eighteen severe cases and three deaths. In September, a more lethal "second wave" of the flu emerged and Camp Devens (outside Boston) reported over 14,000 influenza cases and 757 deaths. 

Toward the end of the first week in October, many cities began to order the closure of churches, schools, and theatres to lessen the spread of the disease. Columbus issued their close-down order on October 10th.
 

Columbus Evening Dispatch, October 10, 1918.
That evening the Grand Theater closed its doors after the company's performance of The Girl in the Train. 

The October 11th issue of the Columbus Dispatch outlined the situation and a couple exceptions to the local rule:

The order for the closing of the theaters, which went into effect at last midnight, was no great surprise to most Columbus theater managers. Some of them had already held conferences with Dr. Louis Kahn, city health officer, and had told him that if the action was deemed necessary, they would be only too glad to cooperate on the shortest notice.

As the matter now stands the only exceptions made in the order closing all amusements are the national dairy show at the state fair grounds and the Galli-Curci concert to be given in Memorial Hall tonight . . . The [dairy] show was exempted because of it being such an important institution for which people from all over the country are already arriving in town. The [Galli-Curci] concert was put on the exempted list for somewhat similar reasons as visitors are coming from all over southern and central Ohio, and quite a number from adjoining states.

Then, as now, people were balancing health risks against angering the populace, and doubtless many people became infected at the Dairy show and the Galli-Curci concert. For those unfamiliar with Amelita Galli-Curci [1882-1963] she was one of the biggest opera stars of the era and a major recording star for Victor Records. Below is one of my favorite recordings of her--for those curious. Her final note is simply incredible. Click here to listen or on video below:

With most of the country under "lock down" the Grand Musical Players hunkered down. There was no way to travel, no where to obtain new bookings, so they remained in Columbus "continuing their regular rehearsals, though necessarily abandoning performances," reported the November 11, 1918, Columbus Evening Dispatch. "The Musical Players are rehearsing The Spring Maid, which will be put on the first week that the ban is lifted. However, should it be raised October 28, Halloween week, the projected Hallowe'en Follies will be played that week. Mary's Lamb is another Grand production in prospect."

On October 15th the same paper reported the "Closure in Statu Quo . . . Columbus managers [have] received no word from the health authorities looking to an opening of the theaters . . ." The paper also explained that "traveling companies" salaries stop when they are not performing, but that "Manager Harris, however, paid the full salaries to the Musical Players last week. It is estimated that over 300 people have been thrown out of work in Columbus legitimate theaters by the closing orders."

More than a month after closing down, the company finally held a dress rehearsal for The Hallowe'en Follies.

Columbus Evening Dispatch, November 9, 1918
 

On November 11, 1918, the armistice agreement was signed, effectively ending World War I; and the Grand Theater reopened its doors with The Hallowe'en Follies--eleven days after Halloween. The jubilant crowds poured in. The Columbus Evening Dispatch of November 14th announced: 

That Columbus was waiting the Hallowe'en Follies is evident by the capacity audiences of the week. The matinee yesterday afternoon was the largest in the history of the company since its Columbus engagement began, and the evening audiences are equal to those of state fair week.
The next week The Spring Maid opened, and the week after that was The Wizard of Oz, and we're back to where this blog began. The Grand Players were more popular than ever and audiences flocked to the theater to escape the pandemic. The company extended their stay and continued working their way through a lot of the Witmark stock catalog. 

After The Wizard of Oz, they presented Canary Cottage, The Bohemian Girl, Sergeant Kitty, A. Baldwin Sloane's The Gingerbread Man (another favorite vehicle for Roger Gray), Round the World Follies, Martha, HMS Pinafore, The Chimes of Normandy, Her Regiment, High Jinks, Have a Heart, Katinka, Pom Pom, The Pink Lady, You're in Love, Sari, Very Good Eddie, The Man Who Owns Broadway, and The Fortune Teller.

They originally came to Columbus for a summer season in the park. They stayed for fifty weeks, and had hoped to play another summer in the park.

Columbus Evening Dispatch, April 10, 1919
 Sadly, the April 18, 1918, Columbus Evening Dispatch announced:

No More Musical Stock.

There will be no musical comedy at Olentangy Park this summer, due to the fact that the Park Amusement Co., which has succeeded Will D. Harris in control of that institution, believes it too expensive and doubtful a proposition. . . . Mr. Harris will devote most of his time this summer to the management of the Grand, continuing its present picture program.

*          *          *          *          *

It is estimated that 675,000 Americans died in the Spanish Flu pandemic, and 50,000,000 died worldwide. Please stay safe, wear your mask, and social distance.

Happy Thanksgiving, and don't go to the theatre!


Copyright © 2020 David Maxine. All rights reserved.