The (Brief) Case Of Babes In Toyland (1986)


In 1903, Producer Fred R. Hamlin and director Julian Mitchell had just found success with their stage musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, based on the L. Frank Baum book. Wanting to keep the momentum, the pair wanted to produce another family-oriented musical production. For help, Julian Mitchell turned to Glen MacDonough to help, since he had worked on revisions of the final text for The Wizard of Oz Musical. MacDonough provided an even greater contribution when he brought composer Victor Herbert into the production. The Operetta would be called, “Babes in Toyland,” and it featured  some of Herbert’s most well-known works such as “Toyland” and “March of the Toys.” “Babes in Toyland” opened in New York in October 1903.

Soon after the Operetta, Glen Macdonough and Anna Alice Chapin released a children’s book with full color illustrated pages. 

The original Operetta follows orphaned siblings Alan and Jane. Their wicked Uncle Barnaby, who has become their caretaker, plans to have them lost at sea in order to steal their inheritance. They are luckily rescued and returned to Contrary Mary’s garden.

Since then it has been made into different forms throughout the years. Each time it is remade the songs and plot change. Some examples are the Laurel and Hardy “March of the Wooden Soldiers” from 1934, a Shirley Temple anthology episode in 1960, the Disney “Babes in Toyland” from 1961, and an animated version by MGM in 1997. 


  • The original run-time for this movie when it aired in 1986 was nearly 3 hours long. Since then, it has been cut down to an hour and thirty-five minutes for video and streaming releases. It has not been officially released on dvd which makes it a relatively rare find. There is however the entire 3-hour glorious movie version available on youtube, which we will link to for you. 
  • It was filmed at Bavaria Studios in Munich, Germany.
  • Most of the original music was cut and a new score and music were put in. It was largely done by Leslie Bricusse. Only a little of Victor Herbert’s music was used, such as “Toyland” and “March of the Toys.”
  • It is clear when listening to the songs that the young 11-year old Drew Barrymore does not sing her own songs as the voice has a more adult vocal range. According to IMDB, Linda Harmon dubbed the singing voice for Barrymore.


  • During a heavy Christmas storm in Cincinnati, a young girl named Lisa (Drew Barrymore) is injured in a car accident and is magically transported to Toyland. There she meets the Toyland counterparts of her sister and friends, each one a storybook character. Lisa learns that the evil Uncle Barnaby plots to marry the young Mary Contrary and steal her away from Jack B. Nimble, also barring Jack from inheriting his family’s cookie company. 


  • Drew Barrymore as Lisa Piper
  • Jill Schoelen as Mary Piper/Mary Contrary
  • Keanu Reeves as Jack Fenton/Jack-be-Nimble
  • Googy Gress as George/Georgie Porgie
  • Eileen Brennan as Mrs. Piper/ Widow Hubbard
  • Richard Mulligan as Barnie/ Barnaby Barnicle
  • Pat Morita as The Toymaster


C-I-N-C-I-N–N-A-T-I !!


  • Shari Weiser, who was in the Labyrinth as part of Hoggle, plays the Trollog in this movie!


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