San Diegan revives 1903 Broadway musicalBottom Highlights, Feature Story Saturday, February 12th, 2011
When David Maxine’s second grade teacher picked up L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to read aloud after recess, the tale of adventure and escapism instantly connected with him. Just like that, he became hooked on the mythical world of Oz.
“There was no real distinction between the parents and the kids,” Maxine said. “I think I found it really appealing that everyone was treated the same.”
Now, years later, Maxine managed to parlay his childhood love into a lifelong career. He’s the owner and operator of Hungry Tiger Press, which publishes many Land of Oz books, comics and CDs. He’s also the producer of the Grammy-nominated Vintage Recordings from the 1903 Broadway Musical The Wizard of Oz.
Fifteen years ago, he stumbled upon an old record catalog that contained listings from the 1903 Broadway production of The Wizard of Oz.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God,’” Maxine said. “I didn’t know these things even existed. I thought they would be impossible to find.”
After several years of searching through New York City record shops, frequenting old recording cylinder auctions and exploring the brand-new eBay, Maxine uncovered enough tracks to fill not one, but two CDs.
The 1903 Broadway musical version may not have anything in common with the famous Judy Garland 1939 movie, as an entirely new score was written for the feature film, but it has its own charms.
“It’s still really catchy and fun now in a very retro way,” Maxine said. “It’s not what people expect. There’s very few songs about getting a heart or getting a brain and there’s nothing like ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’’
“The 1903 version was kind of like MTV, Saturday Night Live and the Wizard of Oz plot stirred up and mashed together,” Maxine continued.
Hungry Tiger Press released the album set in 2003. At the urging of his friends, Maxine decided to submit the CD to the Grammys under the Best Historical Album category. A few months later, he was shocked to see his name on the list of nominees.
“I got an email that said, ‘Congratulations on the nomination’ and I thought, ‘What are you talking about?’ I thought it couldn’t be,” said Maxine. “I was floored!”
Maxine and his partner, Eric Shanower, attended the 2004 Grammys but the album lost to Martin Scorsese’s, The Blues.
Maxine is still researching the 1903 musical, however, now it’s for a book. He’s collecting pictures, the script and other information for a coffee table book that will be released in a couple of years.
Without question, The Land of Oz has made a lasting impact on Maxine’s life.
“My career, my life partner, my whole social life, probably most of my oldest friends are people I met through Oz,” Maxine said.
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