Lost Musicals revives the lesser
known plays of famous playwrights. This time it was the turn of Cole Porter's
interpretation of Aladdin, which was filmed for a
one-off live show for American TV in 1958. It also turned out to be
Porter's last work.
All previous notions of pantomime
Aladdins must be left at the door. This production strips
the story back to the bare bones. The cast are dressed in tuxedo or black
evening gowns. The stage is bare, with just a white-wash light, and the songs
verge on operetta. It is also staged as a kind of rehearsal, with characters
carrying black ring-binders containing their scripts. However, the ring-binders
are moved around with such fluidity that they become a part of the performance,
and take nothing away from the action.
The fourteen-strong cast manage to bring the
story alive through brilliant acting. It is hinting at slightly over-the-top
Broadway style, and nudges at the door of pantomime on occasions, but never
oversteps the mark.
Stand out performances include John Savident
(Coronation Street's Fred Elliot) as the dark magician, who
shows an aptitude for song as well as an evil laugh, whilst Vivienne Martin
as Aladdin's mother and Stewart Permutt as the loveable pick-pocket are the
comic relief with their double act.
This revival puts the tale of Aladdin at the
forefront. It is not swamped by silly songs, farce and choruses of 'he's behind
you'. In fact, the songs are complicated, and complement the story (a tribute
to Porter's Broadway credentials), proving that this is a revival that deserves
to be un-lost.