Baum was a lifelong thespian. After reading about him, I've discovered that he was one of the original "indie" theatre artists. His practice mirrored that of many young artists today in that he worked full-time at a different trade, he allowed his love of theatre to lead him into debt without it bothering him very much and he wore every hat he needed to when producing one of his own works. While recovering from financial shock, Baum would write short stories and children's works but he couldn't stay away from the theatre for too long. It's a good thing his father was a supportive and wealthy businessman because eventually, when Baum was 24 years-old, his father built him a theatre, thereby igniting Baum on the path to becoming a musical theatre legend.
His first seemingly successful work, "The Maid of Arran", a musical melodrama set in Ireland starring and composed by Baum, toured the United States in 1882. Baum's records indicate that the tour was unsuccessful and disappointing. A newlywed and expecting father at the time, Baum returned home from the tour and was pressured by his mother-in-law to stop creating theatre and start working full time again.
Despite derailing him from his craft, Baum's mother-in-law and her fight for women's suffrage ostensibly became a large inspiration for Oz. I, completely Oz-ignorant, couldn't believe that Oz had a political inspiration. Evan I. Schwartz, notable Baum Biographer and Oz historian describes Oz as a "story of a determined girl who leads self-doubting men down a golden road"
(http://bit.ly/YimjCz). Oh right. Well. If you put it that way.
"This is a rare pamphlet of songs with music and lyrics by L. Frank Baum, March 14, 1883." - Taken from rareozbooks.com
In 1900 Baum completed "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in its original story form. In 1901, the original script for the staged play was rejected by Fred R. Hamlin and Baum was forced to re-draft it according to Hamlin's prescriptions. By 1902, the show was produced as a collaborative piece. Baum was reportedly unhappy with the production and its vaudevillian presentation. Moreover, songs were frequently rotated and substituted on a nightly basis leaving Baum without any real control over his work.
To Baum and The Wizard---May there be many more.
See a silent version of The Wizard of Oz: