TIN PAN ALI
A Musical in 2 Acts: Music by David Nield, book and lyrics by Jeremy James Taylor
It's the familiar story of Ali Baba, the Arabian peasant whose discovery of a magic cave containing a trove of stolen riches leads to wealth and relentless pursuit by a band of forty thieves, except now the setting is Prohibition-era Chicago, our hero is a street sweeper, and the thieves are a bunch of inept gangsters – a tuneful, charming, inspired adaptation of an old chestnut.
Princess Scheherazade is telling the one thousand and first tale to the Sultan - the story of Ali Baba, set in 1930's Chicago. Ali Baba, a street-sweeper, sees some gangsters dump a haul of jewels in a warehouse manned by Sesame. Ali steals the loot and takes it home to his girlfriend, Morgiana. The thieves discover Kassim, Ali Baba's brother, grabbing his share, and, led by Carooni, they search for Ali Baba, disguising themselves as street-sweepers. Just as they think they have caught him, they are outwitted by Morgiana. The ending is happy for everyone as Carooni is unmasked as Oscar, Ali Baba's father, and is reunited with his mother Fatimoma. Combining a witty script with a brilliant score, this show was highly acclaimed in its London and Edinburgh performances.
We begin in a scene right out of Arabian Nights. The Sultan snores and The Executioner anxiously waits as Princess Scheherazade finishes her thousandth tale. The Executioner is ready to do his job on the Princess but the Sultan tells him he must wait until she has run out of stories. The Princess then launches into the tale of Ali Baba.
The action has now switched to the streets of Prohibition era Chicago. Ali Baba, a street sweeper, sings to himself as he works. The street then comes alive with all the usual vendors and characters who join Ali in their daily toil.
Charlie Risenshine reads in the paper that the dreaded Haroun Al Carooni and his Spottie Bowtie Brigade, the Chicagorillas, have pulled off two more big robberies stealing $70,000 worth of goods including the famous diamond, the Stonefeller Rock. Carooni's guard Sesame enters and takes his post outside the warehouse. He clearly is not part of the regular crowd. Someone runs in and warns that some Spottie Bowties have been seen on their way. Everyone but Ali flees and hides.
Two teams of gangsters appear and are trying to outdo each other. Prince informs the guys that Carooni is due any minute and sure enough, right on time, he arrives. Carooni makes a grand entrance with his girl, Doll, showing who is "the boss." All of his men join him dancing and singing his praise. ("Start the Action") The two teams show off their spoils and move in to get Sesame to open the warehouse and give them access to the hidden cave. Sesame does as he is instructed revealing a hidden staircase and the cave where all the treasure is hidden. Ali Baba witnesses this all and moves in to "befriend" Sesame. He tells Sesame he would share the wealth if he would let him into the cave. Ali stands at the entrance and debates the pros and cons of going in. He decides that sharing a little wealth would bring great happiness to many people.
The scene then fades back to The Sultan and The Princess who continues her tale.
The action now takes us to the chaos of Fatimoma's kitchen where she is preparing dinner for Grandma, Grandpa, and many other family members. Fatimoma is Ali’s mother, and we learn that his father is not around. We also learn that Ali has a brother, Kassim, who turned to crime, became very wealthy, and is estranged from the family. Ali shows up with a cart full of jewels and treasure and showers the whole family with gifts, Fatimoma glows in her new fortune as does the whole family. Ali has sent for Morgiana, one of his brother's servants who he is in love with. Now that Ali is rich he hopes to win her over.
Unexpectedly, Kassim has followed Morgiana. He demands to know where the treasure came from and wants some of his own. Ali tells Kassim everything he needs to know then sends him on his way. Ali and Morgiana sing a love song in which she says she loves him, not his fortune.
The scene cuts back to the Sultan and Princess who tirelessly continues her story.
We now find ourselves back on the street where Kassim is approaching Sesame and the cave. After going back and forth, Kassim is let into the cave, however Sesame thinks he is a cop so he closes him in there. Sesame mourns his life and as Ali approaches he tries to cheer him up. ("Sesame, Sesame") Ali describes Kassim and Sesame insists he has not seen him, then he lashes out thinking that Ali squealed to the police.
Carooni and his men come back to the cave where Kassim is locked in. The men find out that he is in there and move in and kill him. Carooni realizes that Sesame has been letting people in and finds out that there is a lot of treasure missing including the Stonefeller Rock. Under pressure, Sesame tells all about the street sweeper he let in. Carooni sends a bunch of men, undercover as street sweepers, to find Ali. Carooni is pleased with himself and sings and dances with Doll.
Ali and Morgiana show up looking for Kassim. They walk in and see the thieves getting into their street sweeper disguises. None of them know how to do the job and they do not know Ali. Ali seizes this chance and teaches the all how to be street sweepers.
This act opens again with Princess telling her tale. It then cuts to a huge, elegant house warming party. We learn that Ali and his family are moving into a new house with their new found fortune. There are waiters there who are headed up by a man we clearly see is Carooni in disguise. The whole family is present including Ali's love, Morgiana. Ali sings a song to entertain his guests.We slowly realize that all the waiters are Carooni's men in disguise and they are working the crowd trying to get leads on what happened to their treasure.
Morgiana informs Carooni that it is also Fatimoma's birthday. Morgiana finds his behaviour strange and is a bit suspicious. Fatimoma seems to think she has seen him somewhere before as well. They all sing Happy Birthday and For She's a Jolly Good Fellow. Then the men wheel out a cake which we know has a spy hidden in it. Before they can keep her from doing so, Fatimoma grabs a knife and thrusts it into the cake to cut it. A loud agonizing scream is heard, and the thieves are sure they are about to be exposed. Grandpa speaks up and laughs thinking it is just a trick cake and the men are relieved that they are off the hook. Ali has given Fatimoma a gift which ends up being the Stonefeller Rock. Only one of the men notices but Carooni will not listen because he is too nervous. Carooni jumps in and tries to keep everyone distracted by doing the Conga.
The men have all changed back and are ready to take off, sure they are making no headway. Morgiana sees them and is confused. Then Carooni realizes that his street sweeping gang has shown up to the party. They tell him they have found out on the street that this party is a house warming for a street sweeper who has moved into his late brother's home. The party starts to break up and Carooni finds out that Ali is the guy who taught his men how to be street sweepers. Sesame confirms this for him, now having betrayed Ali who was his "friend." Carooni mobilizes his men to block all the entrances, turn out the lights and get their revenge.
Sesame is disgusted with himself and decides he is going to help Ali, not Carooni. Morgiana happens upon Sesame. She tells him she is engaged to Ali and finds out that he is the man that let Ali into the cave of treasures. She urges him to join them and that Ali would love to see him. He says here that Carooni's men are there hiding and waiting to attack. Carooni enters disguised as an Arabian oil tycoon and says he is a cousin of Ali's. Morgiana has the plan down, informs Ali, and gets the family ready to battle. She instructs Ali to act natural and not show that he knows that is Carooni that he is speaking to.
Ali and Morgiana sing another love song to give everyone time to fall into place and to make Carooni think that they are clueless about what is happening. Carooni has Sesame turn out the lights, and soon as this happens, Morgiana sends the family in to battle and to help them. Sesame throws the light back on. The family is victorious and they sing a victory song. In their banter, Fatimoma finds something very familiar as does Carooni. She slowly realizes that Carooni is her long lost husband: Ali's long lost father. Everyone seems happy except for Sesame who is still alone. Ali works his magic, gestures toward the house and with the cry of "Open Sesame," the magic staircase is revealed as is Princess Scheherazade, our story teller and Sesame walks off with his Princess. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Principals: 6 female, 10 male
SMALLER / ENSEMBLE CHARACTERS Charlie Risenshine, Cuddles, Joey, Lubin, Blind Beggar, Cop 1, Cop 2, Six Party Guests, Two Solo Voices, Waiter, Champagne Cheryl, Elmer, Large Lady, Shapely Girl, Bloated Business Man, Chorus Of Theives, Street Vendors And Party Guests
- Ali Baba Doupa - Ali Baba, Street Vendors
- We Are Carooni's Boys - Thieves
- Start The Action - Carooni, Thieves
- Maybe I Can - Ali Baba
- The Pride Of Old Chicago Town - Ali Baba, Fatimoma, Baba Family
- What Really Matters Most Is You - Ali Baba, Morgiana
- Sesame, Sesame - Ali Baba, Sesame
- Oh Yeah! - Carooni, Doll
- The Dust Cart Rag - Ali Baba, Morgiana, Thieves
- The Dancing Song
- Move Along
- The Dancing Song - Ali Baba, Fatimoma, Grandma, Party Guests
- For She's A Jolly Good Fellow - Company
- Sesame's Song - Ali Baba, Morgiana
- Ali Baba, Morgiana
- The Conga - Company
- The Repercussion Boogie Blues - Company
Music that would appeal to any generation. - The Daily Telegraph
"Children's Theatre at its best." - Times Educations Supplement
- Reed I (soprano sax, alto sax, opt. baritone sax, clarinet), Reed II
(alto sax, clarinet), Reed III (tenor sax, clarinet, bass clarinet),
Reed IV (tenor sax, clarinet, flute), 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, piano,
Recording: Cassette available on sale from Josef Weinberger