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Further Stage Adventures in Oz, Part Thirty-eight: More on Toronto's "Wizard"

As L. Frank Baum and Oscar Diggs.
As L. Frank Baum and Oscar Diggs.

We continue our discussion of the Toronto Civic Light Opera Company's production of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 2002-- which, by the way, was the one hundredth anniversary of the Baum - Tietjens musical extravaganza, The Wizard of Oz. Coincidence? Come on, do you really think it is?

Turning to the costumes worn by the principal characters, Dorothy Gale wore a gray gingham dress in the Kansas sequence, but in Oz it became—pink! A strange departure, I thought, in a show that sought to be closer to the book than any previous version, but one soon got used to it.

The Scarecrow was all plaid and burlap and straw, with shoulder-length straw "hair" hanging from under his straw hat.

The Tin Woodman wore a suit of silver vinyl with the trademark funnel cap.

The Cowardly Lion wore a more elaborate version of the outfits worn by the other animal performers, surmounted by a long curly mane.

(Incidentally, the tiger who, in the book, informs the newly-courageous Lion of the threat of the giant spider, has been long supposed by Oz fans to be the actual Hungry Tiger from Ozma of Oz and later books. In Cascone and Doyle’s Wonderful Wizard it is made plain that he is.)

The Wicked Witch’s apparel has already been described; as for the Good Witches, Locasta wore a diaphanous yellow hooded cloak over a truly kaleidoscopic dress, while Glinda was attired in an elegant white gown with a silver tiara on her long golden hair.

Uncle Henry and Aunt Em wore typical farming gear and the Wizard wore what Baum wore: an elegant suit of clothes featuring a green frock coat and a top hat.

The show itself was a delight to watch and everyone did an excellent job, especially as it was opening weekend. Cynthia and I saw it three times during our stay in Toronto, and enjoyed it immensely. The third night had a significant cast change. Owing to another commitment, Joanne Kennedy could not be there, so the role of Glinda was taken by Catherine Uy, who, for that one performance, embodied the Sorceress of the South splendidly.

Having written before of some of the brilliant-in-their-simplicity special effects in the show, I somehow forgot to include one of the cleverest I'd seen. When the Queen of the Field Mice made her first appearance in the show, a tiny toy mouse on wheels dashed out from under the curtain. Baum walked over and leaned down, looking through a magnifying glass. He stood up, holding the toy, and turned around as Carole Kugler in her Mouse Queen costume strode regally out.

As the characters conversed with her in the two scenes in which she appeared, those who spoke to her looked straight at the ground, while she looked up. A simple means of reinforcing that the Mice were tiny.

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