Shows K

KISMET Book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davies: based on a play by Edward Knoblock: Music and Lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest from the themes of Alexander Borodin Ziegfeld Theatre, Broadway - 3 December, 1953 (583 perfs) Stoll Theatre, London, 20 April, 1955 (648 perfs) SYNOPSIS: A day in the life of a glib-tongued street poet in old Baghdad. He accidentally inherits the city's most lucrative begging site, is captured by brigands from whom he tricks a small fortune in gold, hands most of it to his beloved daughter to spend on baubles, bangles and beads, purchases slave-girls and bids for a palace, gets arrested for theft and condemned to have his right hand lopped off, briefly reconciles an erring father and a hard-hearted son, thus winning a reprieve-and the lustful affection of the shapely wife of the Wazir of Police-undertakes to prevent the marriage of a love-sick Caliph, no less, and finally murders the aforementioned Wazir. Since he finds himself about to become the Caliph's father-in-law, he pronounces the only fitting sentence for such a crime, and is banished to a lonely oasis with Lalume, the Wazir's recent, willing widow, to spend the rest of his days compensating for her deprivation. For a street poet in old Baghdad, some days were like that. For the Chorus An exciting and dynamic score includes a fair amount of chorus work demanding careful rehearsal. There is enough work to keep dancers happily busy, and there is colourful crowd work throughout. The chorus appear as muezzins, beggars, worshippers at a mosque, citizens of Baghdad, brigands, tribesmen and shoppers, street-market hawkers, policemen, slaves and slave-masters, Asiatic maidens, merchants, members of the Wazir's household, officials, guards, prosecutors and prosecuted, and women of the harem. STORY Act 1 At a mosque, an imam prays as the sun rises (“The Sands of Time”). Three beggars sit outside the temple, but the fourth, Hajj, has gone to Mecca. Crying “Rhymes! Fine Rhymes!”, a poet enters to sell his verses. His beautiful daughter Marsinah joins in the sales pitch, but they have no success (“Rhymes Have I”). Marsinah is sent to steal oranges in the Bazaar for their breakfast, while her father sits down to beg. When the beggars object to the poet’s taking Hajj’s place, he claims to be a cousin of Hajj. The poet threatens to curse those who do not give him money and soon earns a few coins (“Fate”). Hassen-Ben, a huge man from the desert, mistakes him for Hajj and kidnaps him. The poet (who is referred to as Hajj thereafter) is taken to Jawan, a notorious brigand. Fifteen years ago, the real Hajj had placed a curse on Jawan that resulted in the disappearance of the brigand’s little son. Now he wants the curse removed. The new Hajj, seeing an opportunity to make some money, promises to do so for 100 gold pieces. Jawan leaves for Baghdad to search for his son, and Hajj rejoices in his new-found riches (“Fate” (reprise)). Back in the city, the wazir of police comes through the busy bazaar (“Bazaar of the Caravans”). The evil wazir and his seductive, beautiful wife-of-wives, Lalume, discuss a loan he desperately needs. In return for the money lent from the king of Ababu, the wazir must arrange for the caliph to marry one (or all three) of the princesses of Ababu, who perform a sexy dance. Through their amah, the princesses tell Lalume that they wish to return home. Lalume convinces them that Baghdad is much more exciting than any other place on earth (“Not Since Nineveh”).