A little girl lives in the middle of the great Kansas prairies with her aunt, uncle and a little dog. One day, while she is playing with her pet, she is interrupted by a fierce whirlwind. The little girl and the dog take shelter in the farmhouse, which is whisked away into the stratosphere, plopping down in a strange, alien land.
The plot of the Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum in 1900 is easily recognized. Many children read the Wizard or one of the many Oz books. And is there anyone on the planet who has not seen the 1939 movie version?
The first outing, other than in print, for the Wizard of Oz came just a few years after publication of the book. A musical extravaganza for the stage opened on Broadway on January 21, 1903, and ran for 293 performances, closing at the end of 1904. It starred pretty much forgotten performers: Anna Laughlin as Dorothy, Fred Stone as the Scarecrow and David Montgomery as the Tin Man. The Cowardly Lion was reduced to a bit part, and the Wicked Witch was completely eliminated. (Fans of the current hit musical Wicked might dispute the logic of that move.) Toto was replaced by Dorothy’s pet cow, Imogene (probably because it created work for two actors instead of one little dog). New characters included King Pastoria II and his girlfriend, Trixie Tryfle, a waitress; Cynthia Cynch, a lunatic; Sir Dashemoff Daily, the Oz poet laureate; Sir Wiley Gyle; and General Riskitt.
The main plot of the musical is King Pastoria’s attempts to wrest the throne from the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy and her fellow protagonists become fugitives searching for the Wizard. The music is pretty much forgotten as well. Such tunes as “Just a Simple Girl from the Prairie” and “Budweiser’s a Friend of Mine” haven’t found their way into medleys with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
J. R. “Bob” Dobbs (not of who killed J.R.? fame) did not make as big a splash in the religious world. Founder of the Church of the SubGenius, he died in 1984 at the hands of an assassin. (Okay, somebody probably asked who killed J.R.?) Dobbs early career was that of a salesman until on one fateful day in 1953, he saw a vision of God on a television set, inspiring him to found the religion whose motto was “Eternal Salvation — or triple your money back.” Although he died in 1984, he has come back from the dead a number of times, according to his church.