The Lost Musicals season, directed annually by Ian Marshall-Fisher, continues this month, providing the London debut for another Cole Porter show, the rarely-performed Fifty Million Frenchmen. The musical, with a cast headed by Alan Cox and Laura Michelle Kelly, will receive two performances only at the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio on Sundays 7 and 14 July 2002.

Set in Paris, Fifty Million Frenchmen tells the story of Peter Forbes, a wealthy but naïve American who makes a bet with his friend, Billy Baxter, that he and the object of his affection, Looloo, will be engaged within a month. In pursuit of Looloo, Peter becomes a penniless tour guide in the hopes of wooing her into falling in love with him.

Last year, Marshall-Fisher unearthed Porter's lost musicals Dubarry Was a Lady and Let's Face It, which also had three sold-out performances in New York in the season's first visit to the city. Porter, who wrote 23 Broadway musicals in all, is best known for such favourites as Anything Goes, Gay Divorce and Kiss Me Kate, currently revived at the West End's Victoria Palace Theatre.

Premiered in 1929, Fifty Million Frenchmen was Porter's first Broadway hit, running for 254 performances. This is the first time it has been seen in London. Songs from the show include "You Do Something to Me", "Find Me a Primitive Man" and "Paree What Did You Do to Me". The book is by Herbert Fields, who co-wrote Annie Get Your Gun and Let's Face It.

The Lost Musicals production stars Alan Cox as Peter Forbes and Laura Michelle Kelly as Looloo. Cox, son of actor Brian Cox, has just finished a Chichester Festival run in The Lady's Not for Burning while Kelly is currently starring in the West End production of Mamma Mia!. Also in the cast are Bryan Torfeh (as Billy Baxter), Dilys Laye (Mrs Carroll), Elizabeth Counsell, Morgan Deare, Sarah Redmond, Stewart Permutt, Tim Whalton, Sandra Caron, Jessica Martin, Myra Sands, Rory Copus, Chris Staunton, Louisa McCarthy and Bryan Pillington.

Since founding the Lost Musicals in 1989, Marshall-Fisher has worked closely with the estates and families of the writers to rediscover and reconstruct the shows. To date, he has directed more than 50 musicals, performed by over 600 actors and singers including Henry Goodman, Joanna Riding, Frank Thornton, Denis Quilley, Janie Dee, Desmond Barritt, Louise Gold and Tim Flavin.

- by Kristen Harjung & Terri Paddock