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CHU CHIN CHOW

Cover to Vocal selections "Chu Chin Chow on Ice"

Book and Lyrics - Oscar Asche : Music - Frederic Norton
Opened His Majesty's Theatre, London August 1, 1916 (2238 peformances)
Manhattan Opera House October 22, 1917 (208 performances)


The Story:

Chu Chin Chow is based on the tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The setting is themagnificent Eastern palace of Kasim Baba who welcomes the Chinese merchant Chu Chin Chow. He is, in fact, not who he seems to be but the rascally Abu Hasan, a robber come to glean information that will enable him to rob his host. Hasan has a slave, Zahrat, already spying in the palace. She has made friends with Kasim's chief wife, Alcolom, who in turn is loved by Kasim's poor brother, Ali Baba. Another friend is the slave maid Marjanah who loves Ali's son, Nur Al-Huda. The downfall of Kasim would solve a lot of problems!

Marjanah recognises Abu Hasan and enlists him in a scheme to get rid of Kasim - she wants her freedom and Alcolom wants to be with her beloved Ali. In exchange, Abu Hasan's identity will not be disclosed. Kasim entertains his guests royally. Abu Hasan tries to buy Marjinah as intended, but drunken Ali Baba offers a fortune, forty thousand gold pieces, - which he does not possess - to buy her for his son. The offer is accepted.

Next morning, Ali can't remember anything, but wakes up in a cactus grove with a hangover. Meanwhile, Marjinah and Nur Al-Huda are preparing to escape when they overhear Abu Hasan and his men coming out of a concealed rock entrance. Abu has ordered Zahrat's lover, Omar, to be brought to the desert to ensure her loyalty to him. When the robber band has left, Marhjanah and Nur tell Ali about the concealed cave, its treasure and its password - "Open Sesame". Later the incantation works for the three as well. Now they can acquire enough money to buy Marjinah from Ali. At the sale, Chu Chin Cow believes his identity has been revealed by Zahrat. He proposes to put Zahrat to death. She exposes his real identity and he leaves with her, his robbers and all the bid money.

Ali visits Kasim, his brother, tells him of the cave and brings the promised bid money for Marjanah, who can now wed Nur. The lovers return to the cave, where they discover a chained Zahrat. They are unable to release her as Kasim is ushered in. He goes mad at the sight of the treasure but is captured by Abu Hasan and put to death. Hasan has brought along Zahrat's lover to die with her. Eventually Zahrat is freed; the robbers are killed by boiling oil, and Hasan is stabbed to death. All that remains is for the young lovers to be united - and so are Ali and Alcolom.

Original Cast:

Abu Hasan - the sheik of the robbers - OSCAR ASCCHE
Kasim Baba - a wealthy merchant - JAMES HERBERT
Ali Baba - his poor brother - COURTICE POUNDS
Alcolom - Kasim's head wife - AILEEN D'ORME
Mahbubah - Ali's wife - SYDNEY FAIRBROTHER
Bostan - Mahbubah's Servant - ANNIE MOORE
Nur al-Huda Ali - Ali's son - J.V. BRYANT
Marjanah - a slave - VIOLET ESSEX
Zahrat al-Kulaub - a slave - LILY BRAYTON
Baba Mustafa - a cobbler - FRANK COCHRANE
Abdullah - Kasim's steward - NORMAN WILLIAMS
Mukbil - An auctioneer - W. DAVIDSON
Otbah - A stall-keeper - WILLIAM HOLLES
Musab - member of Abu Hasan's band - SPENCER LLOYD
Khuzaymah - member of Abu Hasan's band - JULIAN CROSS
Zanim - slave dealer - BESSIE MAJOR
Fitnah - slave dealer - LISA COLEMAN

Robbers, Dancers, Slave, etc.

Musical Numbers:

  1. Prelude
  2. Song (Abdullah & Chorus) - HERE BE OYSTERS - Here be oysters stewed in honey
    2a: Zahrat Theme
    2b:(Abdullah) - There be perfumed wines from Persia
    2c: Underscore
    2d: (Abdullah) - Here be bitter juice of orange
  3. Entrance of Chu Chin Chow - I AM CHU CHIN CHOW - I am Chu Chin Chow of China
  4. Javanese Dance and Entrance of Ali
  5. Song (Marjanah & Chorus) - CLEOPATRA'S NILE - When the blood-red sun is gliding o'er the Nile
  6. Finale Scene 1 (Ali Baba & Company) - I'LL SING AND DANCE - I'll sing and dance and dance and sing
  7. Scene 2. Serenade (Nur Al-Huda & Marjanah) - CORRALINE - Marjanah, O list to my sighs
  8. Scene 3. Song (Ali Baba) - MY HEAD, MY HEAD - My head, my head, it weighs like lead
  9. Song (Ali Baba) - WHEN A PULLET IS PLUMP - When a pullet is plump, she's tender
  10. Robbers' March (Robbers Chorus) - WE ARE THE ROBBERS OF THE WOODS - We are the robbers of the woods
  11. Scene 4. Song & Trio (Ali Baba, Marjanah & Nur Al-Huda) - WHY SHOULD I REPINE - Awah! Temperamental am I
  12. Song (Marjanah) - I LOVE THEE SO - Although I've often asked before
  13. Duet (Marjanah & Ali Baba) - ALL MY DAYS TILL END OF LIFE - All my days till end of life
  14. Scene 5 - Underscoring
  15. Song (Abdullah) - BEHOLD - Behold, spare not your gold
    14a. Underscoring
  16. Finale Act I - THE ROBBERS' MARCH

Act II

  1. Scene 1 - Introduction
  2. Dance
  3. Song (Alcolom & chorus) - I LONG FOR THE SUN - How can I sing from a heart that's cold?
  4. Exit music
  5. Ensemble (Ali Baba, Kasim, Alcolom, Marjanah & Chorus) - HAIL THE GRAND WAZIR - Hail to the grand wazir to be
  6. Song (Marjanah, Nur Al-Huda, Alcolom, Kasim & Chorus) - MAHBUBAH - She will say her say all night and day
  7. Change of scene
  8. Scene 2. Song (Marjanah) - I BUILT A FAIRY PALACE IN THE SKY - I built a fairy palace in the sky, all women do
  9. Change of scene - Interlude Music
  10. Jewel Ballet
  11. Chorus - ROBBERS' MARCH - We are the robbers of the woods
  12. Song (Abu Hasan & Chorus) - THE SCIMITAR - I draw my short, sharp scimitar
  13. Scene 4. Interlude Music
  14. Song (Alcolom) - ANYTIME'S KISSING TIME - People have slandered out love serene
  15. Scene 5. Interlude Music - Change of scene
  16. Song (Baba Mustapha) - THE COBBLER'S SONG - I sit and cobble at slippers and shoon
  17. Bazaar Music
  18. Song (Fruit Girls) - WE BRING YE FRUITS - We bring ye fruits of ev'ry clime
  19. Underscoring
  20. Mannequin Scene (Girls) - From Cairo, Baghdad, Khorasan
  21. Reprise - From Cairo … and underscoring
  22. Scene 6. Duet ( Alcolom & Ali Baba) - HOW DEAR IS OUR DAY - How dear is our day now that Kasim's away
  23. Interlude Music - Change of scene
  24. Underscoring
  25. Song ( Abdullah & Chorus) - OLIVE OIL - Sweet olive oil
  26. Underscoring
  27. Finale Act II - WEDDING PROCESSION - On with the wedding let joy be complete

Scenes and Settings

ACT 1

Scene 1: Kasim Baba's Palace
Scene 2: Marjamah's Window
Scene 3: The Cactus Grove
Scene 4: The Silk Stall
Scene 5: Kasim Baba's Palace

ACT II

Scene 1: Kasim Baba's Palace
Scene 2: In the Starlight
Scene 3: The Cave
Scene 4: Picture Set
Scene 5: The Bazaar
Scene 6: Picture Set (Same as Scene 4
Scene 7: Kasim Baba's Palace