Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités


In Old Baghdad, the bandit chief Abu Hasan disguises himself as a Chinese merchant, Chu Chin Chow, to gain access to the palace of Kasim Baba. But his identity is revealed by his slave, Zahrat, and his hideout under a rock (opened only by the password ‘Open Sesame’) is discovered by the slave Marjhana together with her lover, Nur Al-Huda and her father, Ali Baba. After killing Kasim, Abu Hasan attends the wedding of Marjhana and Nur disguised as an oil merchant with 40 jars supposedly full of oil. But there is a thief in every jar ready to commit more murder. However, Zahrat foils the plot by pouring boiling oil on them all and then finishes the job by stabbing Abu Hasan to death.


Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

The success of the "Arabian Nights" adaptation Kismet, a 1911 play by Edward Knoblock, inspired Oscar Asche to write and produce Chu Chin Chow. Asche also played the lead role of Abu Hasan, leader of the forty thieves (the "Chu Chin Chow" of the title refers to the robber chief when impersonating one of his victims). Besides Asche, the production starred his wife, Lily Brayton, and Courtice Pounds. Costumes were by the designer Percy Anderson.

Chu Chin Chow was described as a combination of musical comedy and pantomime. It was a big budget spectacular costing £5,300, with over a dozen scene changes, fantastic sets, big dance routines, exotic costumes and Asche's well-known innovative lighting designs. The design for the show was influenced by the English taste for all things connected with Asia (known as "orientalism") which had originated with Diaghilev’s production of the ballet Scheherazade. Theatre journal The Era said that Norton's music had "a touch of the East but for the most part it was on a level with the tender melody of musical comedy" and "hardly inspired". Nevertheless, many of the songs became hits, and "The Cobbler's Song" and "Any Time’s Kissing Time" in particular entered the repertoire of ballad singers for at least three or four decades.

Tickets to see Chu Chin Chow were particularly eagerly sought by troops on leave from the Western Front. One of the attractions for the on-leave soldiers was the chorus of pretty slave girls who, for the period, were very scantily dressed. Complaints, not by the soldiers, resulted in the Lord Chamberlain (the British theatre censor) viewing the show and requiring "this naughtiness" to be stopped—at least for a while. The cast was large and included a camel, a donkey, poultry and snakes. A total of 2,800,000 people saw the show. The year following the premiere of the musical, a souvenir booklet was prepared, which included a novelized version of the play by Willam A. Page. He included additional background explanations to explain the scenery and physical attributes of the characters.

Chu Chin Chow was one of three hit musical shows that are most associated with the London musical stage during World War I (the others being The Bing Boys Are Here and The Maid of the Mountains), and music or scenes from these have been included as background in many films set in this period. Interestingly, the three shows were each very different from each other. The Bing Boys was a revue, The Maid was essentially an operetta, and Chu Chin Chow is often considered an adult pantomime. Other popular musicals of the period were Theodore & Co (1916), The Boy (1917), and Yes, Uncle! (1917). Audiences wanted light and uplifting entertainment during the war, and all these shows delivered it.



Liste des chansons

Act 1
Here Be Oysters Stewed In Honey (Abdullah and Chorus)
I am Chu Chin Chow (Abu Hasan and Chorus)
Cleopatra's Nile (Marjanah and Chorus)
I'll Sing & Dance (Ali Baba and Company)
Corraline (Nur-Al-Huda and Marjanah)
When a Pullet is Plump (Ali Baba)
We Are The Robbers Of The Woods (Robber's Chorus)
All My Days Till End Of Life (Marjanah and Ali Baba) *
Temperamental am I (Ali Baba, Marjanah and Nur)
Behold (Abdullah)
Desert Song (Zahrat and Chorus)

Act 2
I Long for the Sun (Alcolom and Chorus)
Mahbubah (Ali, Kassim, Marjanah, Nur and Alcolom)
I Built a Fairy Palace (Mahbubah)
The Song Of The Scimitar (Abu Hasan and Chorus)
Any Time's Kissing Time (Alcolom)
The Cobbler's Song (Baba Mustafa)
We Bring Ye Fruits (Fruit Girls)
From Cairo, Baghdad, Khorasan (Otbah)
How Dear Is Our Day (Alcolom and Ali Baba)
Olive Oil (Abdullah and Chorus)
Wedding Procession (Ensemble)

Additional Songs added in the 1940 revival
I Shiver And Shake With Fear (Ali Baba, Marjanah and Nur-Al-Huda)
Beans, Beans, Beans (Mabudah)
At Siesta Time (Marjanah and Chorus)
If I Liken Thy Shape (Marjanah and Nur-Al-Huda)

Textes disponibles on-line

Aucun livret ou texte de chanson disponibles pour le moment

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Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Chu Chin Chow

Version 1

Chu Chin Chow (1916-08-His Majesty's Theatre-London) (Original)
Durée :
Nombre : 2238 représentations
Première Preview : jeudi 03 août 1916
Première : jeudi 03 août 1916
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Oscar Asche (Abu Hasan), Frank Cochrane (Kassim Baba), Courtice Pounds (Ali Baba), J.V. Bryant (Nur Al-Huda Ali), Norman Williams (Abdullah), Violet Essex (Marjanah), Lily Brayton (Zahrat Al-Kulub), Aileen D'Orme (Alcolom), Sydney Fairbrother (Mahbubah)
Commentaires :
Est resté le longest running à Broadway pendant près de 40 ans, jusqu'à ce que Salad Days le dépasse.
The original production at His Majesty’s Theatre in August 1916 ran for an astonishing 2,238 performances, becoming the longest running musical in the West End, a record it held for almost 40 years, until it was finally overtaken by “Salad Days”. The production made a star of Oscar Ashe, but probably owed much of its success to providing battle-weary troops with lavish spectacle, scantily-clad slave girls and a chance to forget the Great War’s trenches. Its incredible success was not repeated on Broadway, in spite of Tyrone Power in the lead, where the New York production in October 1917 managed just 208 performances
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Version 2

Chu Chin Chow (1917-10-Manhattan Opera House-New York) (Revival)
Durée : 6 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 208 représentations
Première Preview : lundi 22 octobre 1917
Première : lundi 22 octobre 1917
Dernière : samedi 27 avril 1918
Mise en scène : E. Lyall Swete
Chorégraphie : Guida • Alexis Kosloff
Avec : Tyrone Power {Abu Hasan), Florence Reed (Zahrat Al-Kulub), Tessa Kosta (Marjanah), Henry E. Dixey (A/i Balm), George Rasely (Jnur Al-Huda), Kate Condon {Alcolom), Al-bert Howson (Kasim Baba), Lucy Beaumont (Mahbubah).
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Version 3

Chu Chin Chow (1940-07-Palace Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 2 mois 1 semaine
Nombre : 80 représentations
Première Preview : mercredi 03 juillet 1940
Première : mercredi 03 juillet 1940
Dernière : mardi 10 septembre 1940
Mise en scène : Nigel Ferguson
Chorégraphie : Michael Martin-Harvey • Katya Burina
Avec : Lyn Harding (Hasan), Rosalinde Fuller (Zahrat), Jerry Verno (Ali), Lev Bario, Peter Bennett, Kay Bourne, Marjorie Brown, Bruce Dargavel, Sydney Fairbrother, Clement Hamelin, Jill Hands, Katie Kemp, Tom Kinniburgh, Dennis Noble, Raymond Rollett, Hugh Thurston, Dorothy Vernon
Commentaires :
This revival at the Palace Theatre in July 1940 was withdrawn two months later because of the Blitz. It returned in July the following year and played till November.
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Version 4

Chu Chin Chow (1941-07-Palace Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 4 mois
Nombre : 158 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 22 juillet 1941
Première : mardi 22 juillet 1941
Dernière : samedi 22 novembre 1941
Mise en scène : Nigel Ferguson
Chorégraphie : Michael Martin-Harvey • Katya Burina
Avec : Peter Bennett, Kay Bourne, Marjorie Brown, Rosalinde Fuller, Jill Hands, Lyn Harding, Mr Jetsam, Katie Kemp, Noel Leyland, Henry Luscombe, Michael Martin-Harvey, Raymond Rollett, Jerry Verno, Dorothy Vernon, Albert Ward, Edith Woods
Commentaires :
This revival at the Palace Theatre in July 1940 was withdrawn two months later because of the Blitz. It returned in July the following year and played till November.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 5

Chu Chin Chow (1953-07-Empire Pool-Wembley) (Revival)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : Inconnu
Première : Inconnu
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène :
Chorégraphie :
Avec :
Commentaires :
Une version sur glace…
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Version 6

Chu Chin Chow (2008-07-Finborough Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée :
Nombre : 5 représentations
Première Preview : lundi 14 juillet 2008
Première : lundi 14 juillet 2008
Dernière : vendredi 18 juillet 2008
Mise en scène : Alex Sutton
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Edward Handoll (Abu Hasan), Camilla Bard ( Zahrat Al-Kalub ), Victoria Kruger ( Marjanah), Alan Cox ( Ali Baba), Will Barratt (Nur Al-Huda) , Alex Dower ( Kasim Baba ), Esther Biddle ( Alcolom), Adele Anderson (Mahbubah), David John Watton, Sarah Jo Carter, Hannah Richmond
Commentaires :
5 performances, Sundays & Mondays
This present semi-staged and reduced scale production provided a welcome chance for musical buffs to re-visit one of the cornerstones of early musical theatre.
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Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Chu Chin Chow


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Principaux CD du musical

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Captations du musical