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Babes In Toyland

Babes in Toyland is an operetta composed by Victor Herbert with a libretto by Glen MacDonough (1870–1924), which wove together various characters from Mother Goose nursery rhymes into a Christmas-themed musical extravaganza. The creators wanted to cash in on the extraordinary success of The Wizard of Oz, on which MacDonough had assisted, which was produced on Broadway beginning in January 1903, with the same producer, Fred R. Hamlin, and director, Julian P. Mitchell. Babes in Toyland features some of Herbert’s most famous songs–among them “Toyland”,

“March of the Toys”, “Go To Sleep, Slumber Deep”, and “I Can’t Do The Sum”. The theme song “Toyland” and “March of the Toys” occasionally show up on Christmas compilations.

The original production opened at the Chicago Grand Opera house on June 17, 1903, playing for three months, then toured east, opening on Broadway on October 13, 1903 and ran for 192 performances. This was followed by many successful tours and revivals.

A new book and lyrics for the show were written for the Light Opera of Manhattan (LOOM) in the 1970s by Alice Hammerstein-Matthias (the daughter of Oscar Hammerstein II) and director-producer William Mount-Burke. LOOM played this operetta as a Christmas show for several weeks each year thereafter for 13 seasons with considerable success, and the rewritten book and lyrics has since been used by other companies, including Troupe America. The ensemble becomes a mechanical militia of toys for the “March of the Toys”, and children from the audience are brought up to help “wind-up” the toy dancers.

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