The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus is a charming tale about Claus’s life, from his early years to how he became immortal, presented in storytelling fashion by Artistic Director Gayle Stahlhuth, who has been praised by reviewers and audience alike for her portrayals of 30-plus roles in the telling of one tale. When ELTC last produced this one-person tour-de-force in 2010, it was designated an “American Masterpiece” as part of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Masterpieces Series. (This was the final year of this NEA series due to lack of funding.)
Baum gave Claus an exciting life that evokes all the charm, warmth, and fantasy that made his "Oz" stories American classics. He took Claus out of his conventional trappings, and placed him into the world of folklore, complete with fairies, gnomes, and elves. In fact, it is because of Baum’s book, that Santa Claus is believed to have elves to help him.
Lyman Frank Baum, better known as L. Frank Baum, was born on May 15, 1856, in Chittenago, NY. When he was fifteen, his father bought him a printing press, and for most of the rest of his life, he was involved in drama, story writing, or journalism. In 1882, he married Maud Gauge and they moved to South Dakota where he became the publisher of a weekly newspaper. After losing the paper in 1891, the Baum family moved to Chicago. In 1897 Baum published his first novel, Mother Goose in Prose, and 2 years later his Father Goose: His Book became a best seller. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) followed. Baum wrote 13 more novels based on Oz, but he repeatedly declared that he had written his last one and would devote himself to other writing, including The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (1902).
In all his books, Baum tried to update the fairytale genre. Regarding the traditional stories, Baum wrote, “the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as 'historical' in the children's library; for the time has come for a series of newer 'wonder tales' in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf, and fairy are eliminated.” Before his death in Hollywood in 1919, Baum had written about 60 books for children, including 24 stories for girls under the pseudonym “Edith van Dyne.”