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Oz and the Musical


Performing the American Fairy Tale

Ryan Bunch

08 February 2023

ISBN: 9780190843144

232 pages

In Stock

Price: £22.99


How has The Wizard of Oz become so popular on film, television, and stage? This book offers new insights into American identity through the special relationship between musicals and L. Frank Baum's children's novel. Drawing on personal experience, Ryan Bunch offers new readings of the MGM film (1939), The Wiz (1975), Wicked (2003), and other Oz musicals to reveal how the performative magic of the fairy tale musical, with its implied inclusions and exclusions, imagines an American utopia.

  • Presents a new perspective on why Oz persists in American popular culture
  • Offers a fresh way of thinking about musicals by looking to an influential set of performance texts to theorize the practices of the genre
  • Draws evidence from multiple methods, combining interviews, personal experience, textual analysis, material culture, and performance theory
  • Brings new attention to the performativity of childhood and its centrality to the practices of musical theater, fairy tales, and the negotiation of national mythologies

About the Author(s)

Ryan Bunch, PhD Candidate, Rutgers University

Ryan Bunch studies musical theater as well as children's music, media, literature, and performance cultures. He studied historical musicology at the University of Maryland and is completing a Ph.D. in childhood studies at Rutgers University-Camden. He is an active member of the International Wizard of Oz Club.

Table of Contents

    About the Companion Website
    Introduction: The Fairy Tale, the Musical, and "America"
    1. The Man Behind the Curtain: L. Frank Baum's Theatrical Fairy Tale
    2. My Own Backyard: MGM's The Wizard of Oz
    3. Easing Down the Road: The Soul of The Wiz
    4. Wicked: The Witch's Turn
    5. "And Then There Was Oz Again": Making Believe Between Oz and Home
    Epilogue: What Have You Learned, Dorothy?


"Bringing together his expertise in American musical theatre and childhood studies, Bunch walks readers through a culturally-grounded understanding of the world of Oz as found in books, on stages, on screens, in homes, and in communities. Deep scholarship and deep engagement with fan culture create a persuasive reading of the Oz fairy tale as quintessentially American, consciously performative, and full of a kind of theatrical humbug that makes the story perpetually adaptable and reflective of our changing society." - Dr. Jessica Sternfeld, Associate Professor of Music, Chapman University

"Oz and the Musical beautifully analyzes the utopian possibility of the Oz story in forging a sense of American belonging. Exploring the form of the musical and its participatory potential, Bunch embraces the value of make believe and the performative to American inclusiveness. In engaging, lively prose, he reads Oz, The Wiz, and Wicked as fabulous expressions of the variety of the American imagination." - Katharine Capshaw, Professor of English and Africana Studies Affiliate, University of Connecticut