Klaw and Erlanger’s decision to purchase
Drury Lane’s Mr.
Bluebeard sets and costumes was spurred by two
tale themed box office hits: The Wizard of Oz
and Babes in Toyland.
The Wizard of Oz premiered in Chicago in 1902
and moved to Broadway in 1903 where it ran for 293
performances before going on tour.
Comprised of nursery rhymes set to music, Babes was a Chicago creation, composed by Victor
Herbert with a Glen MacDonough libretto, produced by
Fred R. Hamlin and directed by Julian P. Mitchell.
It opened in Chicago at the Grand Opera House in
June and ran until Sep when it headed for
192 performances in New York.
three shows involved huge casts and elaborate
costumes. Babes and Oz were well received and a
financial success, Bluebeard not so much.
Mr. Bluebeard had been a successful Christmas
pageant in London in 1902 and had done okay at the Knickerbocker in New York early in
1903. By year
end, however, maybe the public’s taste for
children’s shows was saturated. Or maybe one of the
grimmest of the Grimm brother’s tales was too grim
for the Midwest. Whatever the cause, despite an
audience bump during Christmas vacation, Klaw &
Erlanger decided to pull the plug on its pricey
investment and the Mr. Bluebeard cast was to be disbanded in mid
Jan, 1904, to be replaced by Ben Hur in K&E's
road company rotation .