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Further Stage Adventures in Oz, Part Forty-four: Doyle's Legacy, Part Two

In Memoriam: James Patrick Doyle
In Memoriam: James Patrick Doylemontage by Peter Heimsoth

Having, after hours of research, collating, and making choices both difficult and easy, pulled together a complete libretto of the best of the Baum – Tietjens The Wizard of Oz, James Doyle and David Maxine moved onto the obvious question, “What do we do with it?”

Maxine arranged with his website Hungry Tiger Press to publish the score. That has yet to happen, but in recent times the show has been done both in concert form and as a full stage production. Inspired by the whole process, Doyle turned his attention to compiling an audio collection of music from Baum’s other stage projects, like The Maid of Arran and The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, and from his silent films. These numbers were recorded by the Utensia Ensemble (named, of course, for the land of living cutlery visited by Dorothy, Billina, and Toto in The Emerald City of Oz) and put onto a compact disc entitled Before the Rainbow: The Original Music of Oz.

Now on a roll, Doyle plunged into other Oz-related projects, which included composing scores for two of L. Frank Baum’s silent films, His Majesty the Scarecrow of Oz and The Magic Cloak of Oz (which is not an actual Oz story, but an adaptation of Queen Zixi of Ix, a tale of one of Oz’s neighboring countries).

We have now reached the time of that momentous event when Doyle first communicated with Joe Cascone and set in motion the culmination of another of Doyle’s Oz dreams.

As I mentioned in an earlier article, James and Joe were introduced to each other via e-mail by David Maxine. Quite independently of each other, the two had wanted to create a brand-new adaptation of Wonderful Wizard containing nothing redolent of the MGM version; Doyle had even written some music. Their collaboration, done entirely by correspondence both postal and digital, produced the delightful show about which you’ve already read.

After The Wonderful Wizard of Oz proved a success with audiences, plans were made to adapt more of the Oz canon in the style established by the two men, who only met each other for the first time shortly before the 2000 production premiered.

“We had talked about the possibility of doing (Ozma of Oz) and (The Emerald City of Oz) as well,” Joe says. “Our intention was that each of the musicals would end with the same finale, ‘This Land of Oz,’ with revised lyrics to reflect the current dramatic situation. At the end of The Emerald City of Oz, where Glinda cuts off Oz from the rest of the outside world, we were going to have the Guardian of the Gates come downstage with a large emerald key and lock the gate to the city once and for all. It would have been a nice dramatic effect had we had the chance.”

Sadly, the chance never came. James Patrick Doyle died unexpectedly in his home in Houston, Texas, in January of 2002. He is survived by his beloved wife Kate.