Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dorothy Gale "Edition De Luxe"

My fellow blogger Bill Campbell over at The Oz Enthusiast is almost as obsessed with the 1903 Wizard of Oz musical as I am. He's a fellow collector of stage-oriented Oz material and he's even built a tremendously fun toy-theatre version of the show.

In researching for the toy theatre, Bill became quite interested in Carolyn Siedle's costume sketches for the 1903 Wizard of Oz. On a recent trip to New York, Bill took photos of most of the surviving costume sketches and assembled them all in a blog post. He later did another blog comparing and contrasting the sketches with the finished costumes as seen in assorted production photos. But at least one of the sketches was rather a stumper for Bill - an unknown Act III dress for Dorothy.

Carolyn Siedle's original costume sketch.

The image shows Dorothy in a sort of "baby-doll" dress. It's short, like a very young girl's would be at the time, all white, with assorted ruffles and bands of applied ribbon, and most oddly, black knee-socks with little white shoes. It's not a look we've associated with Dorothy in that show and doesn't match any of actress Anna Laughlin's Dorothy dresses that we know from the Broadway stage photos.

Bill wondered if it was a preliminary design, perhaps cut from the show. But I had an idea it might be something else. I had a sneaky suspicion that a number of the sketches were not from the Broadway version of the show but from the revised version of the show dubbed "Edition de Luxe" prepared in the Spring of 1904. The show got many new songs, many new costumes, and a general freshening. So I started digging through my photo archive trying to prove my theory. Finally I remembered a photo from Act III of the Hurtig and Seaman touring production circa late 1906. Lo and behold we get a picture of Dorothy Gale kneeling during the finale, and I think she is wearing this mystery frock!

Dorothy at the end of Act III in the Hurtig and Seaman production circa late 1906.

The hat seems similar enough, but the banding on the hem seems spot on. The Hurtig and Seaman production is also just a bit dowdier than the original Julian Mitchell version, too. Hence the slightly frumpy look (though she is kneeling and pleading for help from the Witch of the North).  Below you can see Anna Laughlin in the original Act III dress at the same moment from the show.

Anna Laughlin Act III original Broadway version of the dress.

I strongly suspect that Anna Laughlin made the request for a new Act III dress in Edition de Luxe. The dress above looks heavy and hot, while the little white frock looks quite breezy and cool. A good thing when playing in warm theatres, under the lights with no air-conditioning.

One reason I think the request may have come directly from Anna Laughlin is that the new Act III dress bears a striking resemblance to a dress Anna Laughlin had worn onstage back in August of 1900.

Anna Laughlin in The Casino Boy, circa August 1900

I was fairly convinced several of the sketches Bill found were from the post-Broadway "Edition De Luxe" but he just obtained a photo of another sketch that is explicitly from "Edition De Luxe," one of the Cowgirls from the "Sitting Bull" number introduced in the new 1904 edition. I'm sharing a photo of one of the chorus girls (Theresa Van Brune) in the realized costume. Note that the Ozzy cowgirl in the photo is having a smoke!


In closing, I must say that the Oz Cowboy chorus girl is a really lovely and very modern looking costume. I can see why they called it "Edition de Luxe!"

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