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Chrysanthemum

Cover to Original Cast Recording

a melodrama in ragtime by Neville Phillips and Robin Chancellor: Music by Robb Stewart

New Lindsay Theatre, London 14 March 1956 (40 perfs)
Prince of Wales Theatre, London (transferred to Apollo) 13 November, 1959 (148 perfs (total))


Synopsis

The action takes place in Greenwich Park Lane and Limehouse in 1913 - the age of Ragtime, Russian Ballet, William Morris, Suffragettes, Opium Dens, Lloyd George and the White Slave Trade

Story

One morning Chrysanthemum Brown goes out to fetch in the milk but vanishes. It is three years later that she returns with the milk cans, filled this time. Her father accuses her of having been to Buenos Aires and consequently turns her out of his house and onto the streets where she wonders in Limehouse with the other fallen ladies. The secret that Chrysanthemum cannot reveal is that she has been a victim of the white slave trade. She was ensnared by the evil Ma Carroty and when Chrysanthemum learns that the innocent Mary Ann, beloved of her other Bob Brown, she is horrified. Mary Ann has been whisked away by Ma Carroty as she dallied to meet Bob in the park.

Chrysanthemum rushes to Limehouse to rescue Mary Ann and she returns the girl to Bob. Mary Ann is now safe but Chrysanthemum loses her heart to John Blessington-Briggs. Mary Ann, in gratitude for being saved convinces Chrysanthemum's family that she had been at a Paris finishing school during the period she was absent - and not in Buenos Aires at all. A double wedding is on the cards, Mary Ann and Bob, Chrysanthemum and John.

Unfortunately Uncle Fred spoils the celeations by inging in Pepe who recognises Chrysanthemum as the "Flame of Buenos Aires".

Chrysanthemum returns to Limehouse, determined to find Ma Carroty and seek revenge. She disguises herself as a Chinese strip-dancer to enter Ma Carroty's establishment, "The Skull and Chopsticks". However, her disguise is penetrated and she is imprisoned. Back at the Brown household Pepe has revealed the truth to the family. He it was who had saved Chrysanthemum from the bordellos of Argentina. She had become his dancing partner and subsequently famous and rich enough to be able to return home to England.

The judgement of Chrysanthemum is revised and John goes off to find his love. Drama follows as Ma Carroty prepares to immolate the gagged and bound Chrysanthemum. In the nick of time, John, together with Bob and Mary Ann arrive and rescue Chrysanthemum just as the building goes up in flames. Ma Carroty is captured and her true identity revealed.

Musical Numbers:

ACT 1

  1. Overture
  2. Opening Chorus: "Alexander" - The Brown Sisters, Boy Friends & Guests
    2a Melos
  3. Song: "Ships At Sea" - Bob & Guests
    3a - Chysanthemum's Entrance
    3b - Melos
  4. Song: "Sinner Me" - Chrysanthemum & Chorus
    4a Reprise "Sinner Me" Chorus
    4b Ma Carroty Theme (1st Version)
  5. Song:'Watch Your Step" John
    5a John's Exit
  6. Duet: "Mary Ann" - Mary Ann & Bob
    6a Ma Carroty Theme (2nd Version)
    6b Ma Carroty Kidnaps Mary Ann
  7. The Limehouse Ballet
    7a Change of Scene
    7b The Escape
  8. Song: "Sorry You've Been Troubled" - John
  9. 1st Reprise "Mary Ann" - Bob & (off-stage) Chorus
  10. 2nd Reprise "Mary Ann" - Mary Ann & Bob
  11. Duet: "Is This Love" - Chrysanthemum & John
  12. Concerted Number: "Understanding" - Captain Brown, the Brown Sisters & Friends
  13. Duet: "Love Is A Game" - Chrysanthemum & John
  14. Quartet "Double Wedding" - Lily & Daisy, Rose & Lavender
  15. Finale Act 1: - Wedding Guests
    "At The Wedding" - John, Bob & Best Men
    Mimed Scene - Chrysanthemum, Mary Ann, Captain Brown & Violet
    Scena - The Full Company

ACT 2

  1. Intermission Leading To Opening Chorus Act 2: -
    "Saturday Night" - Chorus
  2. Concerted Number: "Thanks To The Weather" - Bob, Mary Ann & Chorus
  3. Song: "No More Love Songs" - Chrysanthemum
  4. Reprise "Saturday Night" - Chrysanthemum & Chorus
    19a Pepe Says: No: Routine
    19b Pepe Routine - Exit
    19c Change Of Scene
  5. Song: "How Can I Find My Love" - John & Chorus
  6. The Skull & Chopsticks
  7. Song: "Shanghai Lil" - Chrysanthemum & Chorus
    22a Incidental Music
    22b Chrysanthemum Enters The Secret Den
    22c Melos - Agitato
  8. Opening Scene 6
    23a Reprise "Love Is A Game" - Lily & Sam, Daisy & Tom, Rose & Joe
    23b Melos - Pepe And The Suffragette
    23c General Panic - Off To Pennyfields
  9. The Secret Den
  10. Concerted Number: "The Fire Brigade" - Chorus of Firemen:
    25a The Fire Scene :
    25b Ma Carroty Is Caught :
  11. Reprise "Understanding" - Chrysanthemum & Full Company:
  12. Finale To Act 2
    Reprise "Double Wedding" - The Company :
  13. Reprise "Love Is A Game" - The Company :
  14. Reprise "Saturday Night" - The Company :
  15. Playout :
Chrysanthemum did make it to America where it starred Patrice Munsel at Palm Beach. Contractual problems scuppered any chance of a Broadway opening. Then came the film Thoroughly Modern Millie which has a plot line too similar to Chrysanthemum for the latter to have succeeded at the time.

Cast:

(in order of appearance)

(daughters of Captain Brown)

(their boy friends)

CompanyCover to Vocal Score

Singers and dancers; Guests & Friends of the Browns, Limehouse Characters, Wedding Guests, Couples in the Park, Passers By., etc.