State Theatre New Jersey

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Wizard of Oz Fun Facts!

Brush up on your Wizard of Oz knowledge with some of these fun facts before coming to see the show on May 4-5!

  • The beloved classic The Wizard of Oz is based on the 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.
  • The first on-stage version of The Wizard of Oz was a musical comedy by L. Frank Baum (book, lyrics), Paul Tietjens, and A. Baldwin Sloane (music) and premiered in Chicago in 1902.
  • The Wizard of Oz officially opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre on January 21, 1903. 
  • Wildly popular, The Wizard of Oz became the longest running show of the decade, tallying over 290 performances. Following its Broadway engagement it toured the country until 1911.
  • Toto, Dorothy's dog, is actually replaced by a cow named Imogene in the 1903 adaptation. This was most likely done because it was easier to fit an actor inside a cow costume than a dog costume, much less attempt to train a dog for the stage.
  • In the 1903 adaptation, the Cowardly Lion is reduced to a non-speaking role based on the pantomime tradition that animals did not speak. The Cowardly Lion was mainly used as comic relief and to scare off the occasional villain.
  • In 1939 the musical film by MGM debuts. It was directed by Victor Fleming and starred Judy Garland. While not instantly successful, it was critically acclaimed and grew to become one of the most treasured films of all time.  The songs from the on stage musical were not used in the film.
  • Music and lyrics for the film were by Harold Arlen and E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, who won the Academy Award® for Best Song, "Over the Rainbow." In addition, Herbert Stothart, who composed the instrumental underscore, won the Academy Award® for Best Original Score.
  • In 1945 a stage play using songs from the 1939 film was adapted by Frank Gabrielson for the St. Louis Municipal Opera.
  • In 1987 John Kane scripted an adaptation of the 1939 film for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Kane’s version more closely followed the movie script than the 1945 adaptation and played in London's West End.
  • The National Tour of The Wizard of Oz is based on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s celebration of the 1939 MGM movie.
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