Second helpings aplenty there were had-- and thirds, fourths, and more. Theatergoers could not get enough of The Wizard of Oz. Critics lavished praise upon the show and its stars, its sets, its costumes, and its songs. It set and broke attendance records, which was rather astounding in a hot Chicago summer before the invention of air conditioning.
As has already been mentioned, changes were made to the show quite frequently throughout its run, and some of them came right after opening night. Though the crowd had loved the spectacle, it did clock in rather long (even taking into account the frequent encores which were common in those days), so it was tightened up. The premiere had run past midnight!
Cast changes came fairly soon as well; in August, John Slavin, feeling he was underused as the Wizard, departed and was replaced by an Irish comedian named Bobby Gaylor. Not long after, Neil McNiel also left, to be succeeded in the role of Pastoria by Carlton King.
In September of 1902 the show began an extensive tour of the Midwestern United States and part of Canada. A train specially outfitted to carry cast, crew, costumes, sets, and all else needed was commissioned. The tour ran almost to the end of the year, with the show returning to Chicago on December 28 with another new Pastoria (Gilbert Clayton) and a new Glinda (Ella Gilroy).
By this time, Producer Fred Hamlin and publicity manager Townsend Walsh had begun working on plans to take the show to Broadway, and Walsh went ahead to start negotiations with the new Majestic Theatre and begin a publicity blitz. “Don’t let anything stop you,” advised Hamlin, “between the time you strike New York and our opening night.”
The word spread quickly and caused intense anticipation. The show was restructured to the extent of changing the locale and much of the action in the third act; originally it had taken place in Glinda’s domain, but now the setting was the border between Oz and her kingdom of Dreamland.
The Wizard of Oz opened in New York on January 20, 1903. Some critics were unkind to the show, and that is putting it mildly; terms such as “inexplicable” and “out of date” were flung at it, and even Stone and Montgomery were dismissed as “evil comedians” and their repartee as “rough and uncouth.” Happily, however, the public was just as enthusiastic about the show as had been the Chicago audiences.
More cast changes took place while in New York, including an alluring singer named Lotta Faust, who quickly became regarded as the definitive Tryxie Tryfle. Cynthia Cynch’s original portrayer Helen Byron also left the show, and the Lady Lunatic came to be played first by Jeanette Lowrie and then by one Allene Crater, who a mere three years later would become Mrs. Fred Stone. In other words, the Scarecrow ended up with the Tin Woodman's gal!