A Musical Arabian Night

Music & Lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest
adapted from themes by Alexander Borodin
Book by Charles Lederer and Luther David
From the play of the same title by Edward Knoblock

INFO:

Opened at the Ziegfeld Theater    December 3, 1953    583 Performances (and numerous professional revivals)
Original Director: Albert Marre
Original Choreographer: Jack Cole
Original Producer: Edwin Lester (Los Angeles Civic Light Opera), Charles Lederer
Original Leads: Hajj: Alfred Drake    Marsinah: Doretta Morrow    Caliph: Richard Kiley (Yes, Drake and Kiley, perhaps the two strongest musical theater male leads of their time in none show!)
Lalume: Joan Diener    Wazir: Henry Calvin
Cast Size Male: 4    Female: 2    Ensemble: At least 16, should be much larger    Total Cast Size: 22 – as large as you can do it.
Orchestra: 23. This can’t be done with piano/bass/drums.
Published Script: Random House, Long out of print but can be found (expensively)
Production Rights: MTI (Music Theater International)
Recordings: Many! The original with Alfred Drake is easily found and inexpensive, and is very good. I also like the 1965 Lincoln Center Recording with Drake and Anne Jeffries. The recording with Sam Ramey has some gorgeous music, and is a much more complete version of the score. But Ramey is too “opera” for the show, I think. Worth listening to if you’re going to do the show, however, to hear the whole score.
Film: 1955, with Keel promoted to the lead, directed by Vincente Minnelli. It’s okay.  :Lots of changes from the musical play, however.
Other shows by the authors: Song Of Norway, The Great Waltz
Awards: 1954 Tony Best Musical; Best Performance by a Lead Actor (Drake); Best Musical Direction

WHO SHOULD DO THIS SHOW:

Kismet is borderline operetta. (I in no way say that to put you off the show, by the way. Operetta can be great fun, with truly gorgeous music. Hey, it’s not called musical theater for nothing.) The music is generally adapted from classical themes by Russian composer Borodin. It is a stunningly beautiful and fun score, and truly challenging in some ways. Almost everyone in this show has to be vocally trained, with large opera-like ranges and voices. This is a fascinating show for Civic Light Operas (I know there aren’t many left), Opera companies (New York City Opera had it in its repertoire for a while), perhaps Summer Stock, semi-pro and professional companies ready to tackle a sizable challenge.

Be Warned:

If you don’t have a large group of highly trained singers (with operatic or near-operatic qualities) at your disposal, this show really isn’t going to work for you. If you don’t have a quite capable orchestra, it won’t work. As to sets and costumes, they could be done very expensively, or not, as you’ll see below.

Also, sex is the popular topic through much of the show, so this is not a show for young casts.

THE STORY:

ACT ONE: The leader of the local mosque, an Imam, looks at the fading night and sings about the passing “Sands of Time,” a riddle only lovers understand. The town awakens, and beggars go about their business, harassing Omar Khayyam (the great poet and scientist) for alms. A poet, a man who sells rhymes (“Rhymes Have I”) with the aid of his daughter, Marsinah, goes unsuccessfully about his own business, earning the respect of the great Khayyam, but no money. They are starving and Marsinah leaves to steal some oranges when the shops open. The poet finds himself accidentally sitting in the spot recently vacated by the most successful beggar in Baghdad, Hajj, and receives a donation. Other beggars object, but he tries his hand begging to a passing businessman. The man refuses, and the new “Hajj” curses him in many effective ways, until he offers up “may your taxes increase!” Then, he gets a large donation, to the confusion of the other beggars (clearly amateurs) who have never seen a man cursed into giving. The Poet (now “Hajj”) contemplates on how quickly ones “Fate” can change. And so it does when mistaken for Hajj, he is suddenly abducted. Inside a tent outside Baghdad, The Poet is confronted by ancient and infamous brigand, Jawan, who claims that Hajj placed a curse on him long ago. Now the man has weeks to live, and wants the curse lifted so he can find his long-lost son. The Poet continues to play at being Hajj, and “lifts the curse”…for 100 gold pieces. The Poet is momentarily rich.

The Wazir (the word basically means “Minister”), a powerful official, confesses to his gorgeous wife, Lalume, that if he cannot get the Caliph (the head of state and, in this case, descended directly from Muhammad) to wed a princess of the Wazir’s choice, one of three sisters from Ababu, he (the Wazir) will be financially ruined. But the three princesses hate Baghdad and wish to go home. Lalume entices them into trying out Baghdad. (“Not Since Nineveh”) They depart the square as Marsinah runs in with stolen oranges, which she quickly tosses away as the Orange Merchant accuses her. The Poet intrudes and pays the man off. He informs his daughter that they are now rich. It’s so much money, she’s sure her father stole it and begs him to return it. But he laughs it off and gives her money to buy her favorite things, “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.” The Caliph happens to see Marsinah in her finery and instant falls in love with her.

On the street, Jawan, in search of his son, is discovered in Baghdad, and the police seek him to take to the Wazir. The Poet has now bought himself clothes, a cushioned litter, and several slave girls. Stopped by the police and asked for his name, he flippantly says “Jawan,” and is arrested. In the meantime, the Caliph approaches Marsinah, they sing “Stranger In Paradise,” and fall in love. He departs, but he will be back for the woman he loves. The town fills with princesses intending to wed the Caliph, but Omar Khayyam,his poet, can see that “He’s In Love,” and the town celebrates. Meanwhile, the Wazir holds court, passing cruel judgments on all who come before him while fretting over the fact that the Ababu princesses don’t seem likely to win the Caliph, and he will lose the fortune he was promised. The Poet comes before the Wazir for judgment, and the Wazir decides to have the man’s hand cut off. The Poet begs to keep his hand. (“Gesticulate”) But he’s too clever, and now the Wazir suspects he must have stolen more than the gold that was found on the Poet’s person. He sends men to the Poet’s abode to search. Afraid for Marsinah, the Poet curses the Wazir…just as the real Jawan is dragged in for judgment. Jawan curses the poet, claiming the curse still keeps him from his son…when he observes the amulet the Wazir has worn since birth. Jawan pulls from his own shirt the other half of the amulet. The Wazir is his son! Amazed, the Wazir sends Jawan off to die, but keeps the now wizard-like Poet close. Then he recalls the curse the Poet placed on his own (the Wazir’s) head, and scoffs. He has no powers, and should be killed. That’s when a Herald enters to announce that the Caliph is to be wed. The Poet’s “curse” has taken effect in the Wazir’s mind! Superstitiously, he tells the Poet that if he lifts the curse and stops the Caliph from marrying, he will make the Poet an Emir (a kind of Muslim chief). Lalume knows the Poet has no magic, just luck. She is attracted instantly to the Poet, and fears her husband will have him brutally killed when the Caliph weds. The Wazir, fearing the impending wedding, wants it stopped now. With Lalume’s assistance, the Poet puts on a show of making great magic…and slips out the window as the Wazir is preoccupied. When asked where he went, Lalume mysteriously points to the ceiling, and all are awed.

ACT TWO: The Caliph prepares to be wed and to enjoy the “Night of My Nights.” Marsinah waits for him, thinking him a simple gardener (as he presented himself to be), in the garden where she met him. (“Stranger In Paradise” reprise.) Her father arrives, giving her all the gold he has and begging her to run away before he is caught. She refuses to leave him to the Wazir, even if she must die as well. The Poet, terrified for her and out of character, threatens to strike his daughter, and with a sob, she runs away. The Caliph approaches with fabulous bridal jewels, knowing Marsinah likes “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” (reprise). He arrives to find Marsinah has fled. Furious, he insists on seeing every princess there to woo him. He will select a bride tonight. The Wazir hears of this, and his faith in his wizard becomes unshakeable. He can still keep his fortune if the Caliph marries an Ababu sister. He celebrates who he is. (“Was I Wazir”, pretty funny song.)

In the Wazir’s harem, the Poet lounges with Lalume and celebrates Turkish Delight (and other things), known in the vernacular as “Rahadlakum.” The two long to run away together. She knows of an oasis a week’s ride away where they could be alone, but fears her husband. The poet hides just as the Wazir enters the room, and wonders how the man vanished this time. The Poet “reappears” to find out what the Wazir wants. The Wazir crowns the poet, making him an Emir, and then departs. Marsinah is brought to the Poet at his demand. Lalume and she like each other instantly, and Lalume heads off to prepare a room for Marsinah. Marsinah informs her father that she’s fallen in love with a gardener. He is displeased. She weeps, admitting she’s now lost the love of her life and will never be able to find him. He leads her out. At that moment, the Caliph enters to speak with the Wazir. He insists the police find the girl he met that night. He tries to describe her but is too starstruck to be accurate. In the meantime, Marsinah tries to describe her love to her father. This is a beautiful quartet. (“And This Is My Beloved”) The Poet promises he will somehow find this man, and Marsinah reprises the gorgeous number, alone.

The Poet pays policemen to bring gardeners to him. They are confused, but will do anything for money. Omar again meets the Poet, now under increased circumstances, and marvels at the man. The Poet, however, is unimpressed with Khayyam’s poetry, and Khayyam understands. Discovering more about the Poet, Khayyam advises him not to be greedy fool, and to run. The Poet claims that it is a fool who does not seek for the entire world, when all he owns is “The Olive Tree.”

The Caliph has promised a marriage, and Marsinah has not been found. The Wazir shows him the princesses in his Harem through a screen, so they do not know they’re observed. And the Caliph sees Marsinah there. He cries out, it’s she! The Wazir, thinking quickly, claims Marsinah is one of his own wives. Bitterly, the Caliph determines to marry someone else, anyone else, and agrees to meet the princesses that evening as he departs. The Wazir illegally has papers drawn up making Marsinah his wife, and back dating it…later planning to have her killed. The Wazir believes that his Poet/Wizard has come through again!

Khayyam shows the Caliph all the candidates for his hand. They dance enticingly for him, but he’s not interested. The Poet approaches Lalume and tells her he is worried, he can’t find his daughter. Lalume goes to fetch her. The Wazir, in the meantime, brags to the Poet about what he did, and happens to mention the girl’s name, Marsinah. Now, the Poet hates the Wazir, and looks for a way to bring him down. The Poet performs a magic trick for the Caliph in which he insists the Wazir participate, and which he claims will reveal the woman the Caliph will marry. In the process of doing the trick, the Poet drowns the Wazir. He is about to be killed when he asks the Caliph what sentence should be given a man who lied to his King? Death, says the Caliph. And with that, he reveals what the Wazir had done to keep Marsinah and the Caliph apart, even as Marsinah enters the room. The Caliph is ecstatic. But the Poet insists on being punished…by being sent to a certain oasis a week’s ride away, with Lalume to “torture” him. His punishment is granted.

THE SONGS: “Sands of Time”; “Rhymes Have I”; “Fate”; “Bazaar of the Caravans”; “Not Since Nineveh”; “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”; “Stranger In Paradise”; “He’s In Love!”; “Gesticulate”; “Night Of My Nights”; “Was I Wazir”; “Rahadlakum”; “And This Is My Beloved”; “The Olive Tree”; “Presentation of the Princesses”; “Finale”

Hits include “Baubles, Bangles and Beads”; “Stranger In Paradise”, “And This Is My Beloved”. (But every song in the score is very strong.)

MY OPINIONS:

As always, feel free to ignore or skip my opinions and rating.  If you do, though, what happens next will be your kismet.

I have always been a fan of this show, especially its score. The music is stunning, one of the most beautiful Musical Theater scores ever composed. The themes are generally adapted from those of Russian classical composer, Borodin (though they are sometimes really jazzed up, which is great), and you will doubtless recognize some of them if you listen at all to classical music. The adapters, Wright and Forrest, did what I think was a sensational job of turning the themes into fully realized, memorable songs. The melodies are often unforgettable. The lyrics are almost all very clever, and sometimes moving, a thoroughly professional and entertaining job. If you were looking for a show to do a concert version, and you had many highly-trained voices, I’d recommend Kismet highly.

This score truly thrills me, and I love listening to it. There’s not one number I don’t enjoy. Some, like “Sands of Time”, and “The Olive Tree” have that unique ability to get in my head and stay there for days. And of course, the love songs are utterly beautiful. The comic numbers work very well, far better than can be claimed by operetta as a rule, which helps firmly place Kismet in the Musical Comedy category. I think the above-average lyrics are largely responsible for the success of the comic numbers.

The book is also clever throughout most of it, with minor lapses which a good director can work through. There are many good laugh lines. It’s entertaining. The logic of the story is charming and inventive. There are certainly some unsavory elements, however, in the story. Sex is everywhere, from scantily-clad harem girls to the wife of the Wazir who is looking for her pleasure anywhere but with her horrible husband. If this disturbs you or your audience, skip Kismet. (That said, the old aphorism “sex sells” still holds true in most places in the world.)

There is also a rather ghoulish murder committed at the end of the show, by all characters, our hero. He drowns the Wazir publicly before our eyes, the eyes of the powers that be in the show. And then, the act is not only justified but almost instantly forgiven. The show does a fair job of making this “acceptable,” and you should read how it’s done before dismissing it. But if you find this morally suspect, you would not be entirely unjustified.

The world seems to have largely forgotten this show, which was an integral part of the “golden age” of musicals. I think that is unfortunate, and the show deserves a far better fate. I can’t believe that audiences that approve of “Phantom of the Opera,” a show I really do not care for, which trades on quasi-classical music and a story that is dark and reeks with implied sex, would not go for Kismet – a much more entertaining show with a far-more accomplished, beautiful and fun score…and plenty of sex. I think Kismet is a show crying out for a clever revival. Over to you.

MY RATING: * (A better-than-average and interesting show, right for many groups.)

PRODUCTION CONCERNS AND IDEAS:

DIFFICULTY OF MUSIC:
Well, your orchestra will be very busy. This is not a show for amateur musicians or singers. You’re going to need serious singers in almost every role. Musically, this is an operetta, and furthermore, the music has classical scope and rich orchestrations. I’m not saying the show requires a symphony orchestra, but I’m not saying that wouldn’t be the best way to fulfill the needs of the score, as at least one concept album of Kismet demonstrated.

You just can’t do this show with a pit band, or worse, a trio. The show is orchestrated for a rather large orchestra, as compared to most Broadway shows, and the original arranger and orchestrator were right. This score is rich with complex, beautiful melodies and even four-part counterpoint. It benefits enormously from an orchestra.

Plan on spending a fair amount of time teaching the score, particularly choral parts. They are very much a part of the feel of this show, and must be tight. To the roles. The first five carry most of your solo singing.

The Poet (Hajj) bass-baritone able to get up to an F#. An legit voice, trained, with a true belt, and able to really get a lyric out clearly and with meaning.

Marsinah is a soprano, must have a beautiful, pure instrument. Does not need to be operatic, high note is only an A.

Lalume, according to the score, needs over two octaves, a true soprano with a lower belt range. Somewhat operatic. Again, she really needs to get a lyric out clearly.

The Caliph is a lyric baritone but must be able to get to a B flat. Operatic, very trained voice.

The Wazir is a large man, usually heavy, a baritone with a top F.

Chief Policeman (sings “He’s In Love”) should have a clean tenor belt.

The ensemble is going to need a fair percentage of legit voices in it. I’d get all ranges covered, there’s a fair amount of ensemble signing, lots of harmonizing, and it should sound operatic. Tend to cast young, try to get people who can move well and look good in scanty costumes, both men (policemen, slaves) and women (in the harem, etc).

DIFFICULTY OF DANCE, CHOREOGRAPHIC CONCERNS:
There is a fair amount of ensemble dance in the show, and it’s a cross between Arabian Nights and American jazz, with some sex thrown in. Your six princesses who compete for the hand of the Caliph all must dance very well along these lines, and look good in the appropriate costumes. It is a selling point for Kismet. (You can lose some of the princesses, perhaps, to shorten the cast needs. But it is a marketing point.) The rest of the ensemble should move decently. You’ll need a few men who dance well to work with the six princesses, which you should double as ensemble for big numbers.

Your choreographer needs to be skilled at stylized dance, as described above. I would say for this show it would be best to turn it over to an experienced choreographer, one who had done a few larger shows. This isn’t exactly a “dance show,” but it’s close.

As to your leads, Lalume must be able to move very well. “Not Since Nineveh” and “Rahadlakum” are dance numbers. That said, you could pull with her character what I call a “Tab Hunter.” (In the film “Damn Yankees,” Hunter wasn’t a dancer. So Bob Fosse has everyone else dance around him in “Two Lost Souls,” while he sits on the floor playing a chair like a drum.) You could have ensemble do the movement on these numbers while Lalume is staged in, but her movement contained so she can focus on singing and acting. Up to you.

Likewise, the Poet (Hajj) has a lot of solos, and talks about using his body to “Gesticulate,” so it would be best if he wasn’t a stick. He should move well.

The Caliph and Marsinah can be almost entirely singers who do a little acting. They do not need to dance. Likewise, the Wazir.

CASTING CONCERNS:
(See vocal and dance concerns above.)

Hajj is 40s-50s, handsome, tall, dark, clever, very quick with a word and a scheme, an older version of Aladdin fallen on hard times. Not a character role so much as a hybrid between character and romantic, mature lead. I think the role calls for a triple threat, a strong actor, strong singer who can move well while looking great.  Could be Black, White, Asian, mixed, it’s wide open.

Marsinah is his daughter, late teens – early twenties. The romantic female lead. Must be very attractive, a perfected version of the girl next door. Keep the casting dark-complected. (A good show to go multi-racial! Oriental, Black, Latino all good. No blondes allowed.)  Could be Black, White, Asian, mixed, it’s wide open.

Lalume is in her 30s or so, sexy as hell, gorgeous, smart, clever, seductive. A match for Hajj. Again, multi-racial casting is possible.

The Caliph is a bit of a virgin, as is Marsinah. Handsome, aristocratic, tall, the romantic male lead.  Multi-racial.

The Wazir is usually played by a large and somewhat overweight man, and appears to be a voluptuary. Menacing, criminal, violent. Anywhere from 30-55.

Omar Khayyam, the famed poet, lived from 1048- 1131, which places the entire musical in time. Brilliant, a great scientist as well as one of the truly historic poets, he is a man of deep wisdom and intelligence. He authored a series of short poems translated literally hundreds of times in every language imaginable, his “Rubaiyat,” and here’s the famous example translated into English and quoted in the play:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit,
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Hajj can quote this line when he meets Omar, so the great poet/scientist is famous already at the start of the play. The character may have been young or old when he authored this, but it seems likely to have been a wise and older man, so I’d cast in that direction.

The three Princesses of Ababu must play self-involved, small-minded, rich, interested in shopping, and gorgeous. Today, they would live in Beverly Hills or Brunai.

Jawan is a desert brigand in his 70s or so, old but fierce and dangerous, even if he is now dying. You’ll double him in ensemble roles.

It’s a big ensemble. As described above, try to skew in the 20s and 30s, and make sure they look good in skimpy clothes. It’s the nature of this show.

SETS:
There are 13 sets indicated in the script, but only a few are distinct…and only one is necessary. These include the steps of a mosque (the opening scene), in a tent, on numerous streets, and in numerous parts of the Wazir’s palace, as well as a garden lit in moonlight. And this, I think, is an area where a great deal of money and effort can be saved, with a simple, creative solution.

The play is “a Musical Arabian Nights.” I’d build a set of long, colorful drapes, perhaps with Islamic lettering stenciled on. (You cannot place human images on any part of the set, the religion forbids it and they wouldn’t have it.) The required opening Mosque could be a set of white drapes suspended straight up and down like a door. The tent for scene II is easy to do with brown and black and gray drapes slashed across the stage. The bazaar for scene III and be blue and white drapes above for the sky, and a few colorful cutaways or carts rolled on. Streets can be surrounded in drapes that are dark, and perhaps stenciled with doors and roofs. You get the idea. Get creative with these so sets are unique. But this is a very inexpensive handle. Have the actors dance on and hang some of these as a part of action, to create transitions, rather than trying to hide them. After all, what are slave boys and slave girls for? (Kidding!)

By the way, Hajj must drown the Wazir in a pool at the end of the show. Blue chiffon or some light and wavy material, with everything carefully choreographed?

If you’re going the full set route, that will be very expensive. Some shops may have some of what you need, but I suspect you’ll be building a fair amount. I’d at least double up some sets, like street sets, or corridors and anterooms. Perhaps a single set with a half wall could serve as two sets, like the corridor and the anteroom in scenes V and VI, Act II, in the Wazir’s palace. A single set could serve as both. And the scene IV rooftop pavilion in his palace could be the same set with a few drapes covering walls and such. You will need to get creative unless you have a great deal of cash, a huge stage, and a very effective grid system to fly everything in.

COSTUMES:
The costumes need to be semi-authentic for the period. You’ve seen lots of Sinbad movies and such. If not, then do so. Keep the princesses clothing able to dance in, and spangly as they’re rich, as well as slightly revealing and seductively alluring. There’s going to be a lot of midriffs. Same for Lalume.

Hajj goes from a threadbare poet to a very rich man, and his clothing tells the tale. The Caliph is usually dressed almost entirely in white, and is descended from Muhammad. Dress him something like a god. The Wazir is a great and terrible power, and is usually dressed in black or darker tones to contrast with the Caliph. Marsinah costume should reveal a beautiful girl, but imply more than it shows. She’s a kid and a virgin. She is also poor, like her father.

The ensemble represent Baghdad as a whole. Merchants, slaves, slave owners, royals, harems, police. Perhaps these can be differentiated by color and cut, and the costumes can generally be built-out dance wear for ensemble. They must be able to sing in their costumes, and the costumes should be as bright and spangly as is reasonable.

PROPS:
Oranges and Turkish Delight (rahadlakum) are just a few dishes you’ll need to prepare in some sort of beautiful bowls. A fine box of fine jewels for the Caliph to give to Marsinah. Swords galore, probably as scimitars. Baubles, bangles and beads for Marsinah to buy, and gold coins to buy them with. Give at least one beggar at the top of he show a false stump or two. The props used should fir in with the richness of the sets and costumes, and the period. Crowns for princesses and kings. Jewelry for all, get a lot of sparkly stuff for hands and arms.

LIGHTING:
I’d go for a lot of saturated colors. The night can be rich blue, with “moonlight” (spotlights) catching the faces of our lovers. There’s a fair amount of full stage dance, you’ll need to be able to wash the stage variously. A follow spot for major solos and some duets would be a good thing, especially “Fate”; “Stranger In Paradise”; “Gesticulate”, and “Was I Wazir”, as well as the Princesses dances near the end of Act II, and you might want to gel those. The show should be imaginatively lit, it should feel somewhat magical in the “Arabian Nights” school of magic.

MAKE-UP:
Kismet is a fantasy in a land long ago and far away. You should not go “realistic” with this show. The Wazir is a bad guy. Give him bags under his eyes and a high stress level. Lalume and the Princesses need to be fantastically seductive. You’ll want to make up more than just their faces. You may also want to look into wigs and falls. Guards and policemen will need muscles. Hajj should have a beard, and if it’s real, so much the better, but it should be trim and appealing. If blondes are cast, make them into brunettes.

KEY PERSONNEL (The ones you MUST get right.):
Director, Music Director, Choreographer, Set Designer, Costume Designer, Stage Manager, Hajj (the Poet), Lalume, Marsinah, the Caliph, the Wazir.

MY THOUGHTS:
This is a great show if you have a large company that can sing well. In casting this one, try to go interracial. It’s a show that will easily support this approach. I would go as creative as possible within the bounds of a musical comedy/operetta in every element. And I wouldn’t tackle Kismet without money and support.

The 1950s were a sort of mother lode for musical comedy. Starting with Guys and Dolls, through shows like Damn Yankees, Pajama Game, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, West Side Story, The King and I, The Sound of Music, The Most Happy Fella, and Gypsy, it can be argued that the American theater had truly figured out how to do great musicals. Large. Fun and interesting musicals with a strong, central concept and memorable scores ruled Broadway stages, precursors that made Harold Prince’s “concept musicals,” starting with Cabaret and Fiddler On The Roof, possible. Kismet falls in the midst of this decade, and fits it like a glove. An “Arabian Nights Musical,” making use of classical music themes for its score that were composed in the first place to evoke far away lands and times. (The “golden age” of musical theater generally goers from around 1943-1968, per most “historians. I disagree. I think it’s longer than that.)

Unlike almost any of the above shows, Kismet relies more on sex appeal than romance, though it does have its share of love story. A good or bad thing? That’s a personal call. But sex is old and venerated in the theater. Look at Aristophanes and “Lysistrata,” a play about 2,500 years old and far more overtly sexual than anything on stage today, and you’ll see what I mean. So it would be rather hypocritical this late in the game to frown on the use of sex appeal in theater. Will your group enjoy or revile this element of Kismet? You’ll need to decide.

I personally really enjoy this period in the Musical Theater, even some of its lesser accomplishments like Bells Are Ringing and Paint Your Wagon. I think that after around 1966, we see a real decline in the overall quality of scores and lyrics in the Musical Theater. And things have not much improved since then. Yes, we have stellar works that stand out as real accomplishments in recent decades, and are competitive with the best musicals ever authored. But they are few and far between when compared to the golden age. I see musicals as a human treasure, a sort of gathering up and perfecting of many art forms in a single package. I think shows like Kismet, not the most perfect stone in the treasure chest, but beautiful and unique, should be taken out from time to time and shown off.