Thursday, August 8, 2019

Right on Schedule!

One thing I really wanted when I began work on the book was a complete performance schedule of the show listing its various touring companies and any revivals. In the late 1990s amateur Oz researcher Evan McCord sent me a schedule he had created from research he'd done at The New York Public Library by going through their program and handbill files and looking through the New York Dramatic Mirror and New York Times. It was a good start, but was only three pages long. He also sent me another much older schedule, possibly created by Baum biographer Russell MacFall, which covered only 1904.

But in the last several years I have been able to greatly expand the performance schedule thanks to the many online newspaper archives, various magazine digitization projects, and my husband's obsessive streak. I am most grateful to have a live-in research assistant!

The schedule is now over twenty pages long and cites well over two thousand different performances, their locations, and often the theatre name. In my master list it even mentions box-office receipts, crowd size, if an understudy went on as well. There are a handful of conflicts still where sources disagree about what city the tour was in. There also remain sixty-seven blank dates (excluding Sundays). Some of these may well have been days off - but many must have been additional and still undocumented performances.

I have just added a simplified version of the full performance schedule to this website. You can access it by clicking here or via the PERFORMANCE HISTORY link in the right hand column under RESOURCES.

The newly created schedule offers many insights into the show. Touring company No. 1 had a fairly easy time, often playing multiple days, and sometimes weeks, in a given city. But Company No. 2's schedule was grueling! They did many one night stands with no day off in between. This meant performing the show until 11:00 PM, and trying to get a decent night's sleep before an early morning train so they could perform the show the next day in a different city, sometimes beginning with a matinee! Then they would repeat the process all over again, often for days on end.

It was this kind of insight that made the schedule come to life for me. But that was nothing compared to a find a couple years ago when I got copies of the travel diary of Edna Leach, one of the chorus girls touring with Company No. 1.

Travel diary of WIZARD OF OZ chorus girl Edna Leach.
The travel diary is wonderful! It sometimes lists the hotels she stayed in, what she paid for her night's lodging, and often provides explanations for various conflicts in the schedule. The most interesting of those is the quick rearrangement of performance dates after the disastrous Iroquois Theatre fire in Chicago. I'll blog in much more detail on Edna Leach in the near future.

I hope you'll take a few minutes and examine the schedule. Check and see if The Wizard of Oz played in your town! And if by chance you decide to do any research of your own, at an old theatre, the local newspaper, or a historical society, let me know what you find!

Copyright © 2019 David Maxine. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Haha!
    I don't think there's any chance "the Wizard of Oz" moved across the seas to play in Sydney, Australia.

    But that would have been something.