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Previn & Porter Shows 'Found' by Lost Musicals

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Lost Musicals returns again this year to Sadler's Wells' Lilian Baylis Studio, featuring a long-forgotten revue originally written for Fred Astaire, a musical about Coco Chanel with music by André Previn, and Mexican Hayride, a rediscovered Broadway hit by Cole Porter.

Established by director Ian Marshall Fisher in 1989, Lost Musicals presents semi-staged productions of rarely performed works. Fisher has reconstructed and produced over 70 different shows over the years including work by Stephen Sondheim, Orson Welles, Kurt Weill, Ogden Nash, Richard Rodgers, John Steinbeck and the Gershwins.

First up this year is The Band Wagon (weekends only from 27 March to 17 April 2011). Written in 1931 by Arthur Schwartz (music), Howard Dietz (lyrics and book) and George S Kaufman (book) as a revue for siblings Fred and Adele Astaire, the score includes “Dancing In The Dark”, “I Love Louisa”, and “High And Low”. MGM used a few of the songs in a subsequent a film, with the same title, but the sketches haven't been seen since the original run.

Gale Dixon & Katherine Hepburn in the original production of Coco

It's followed, from 15 May to 12 June (weekends only), by Coco, a musical featuring music by André Previn and a book by Alan Jay Lerner. In 1969, Lerner (My Fair Lady) and Previn wrote this as a vehicle for Katherine Hepburn (a role later played by Danielle Darrieux and Ginger Rogers) but also for Coco Chanel herself.

Coco is about Chanel’s dilemma, which occurred in her 60s, as she attempted to maintain her worldclass status as a fashion leader while newer, younger designers began to usurp her place. This will be the show's European premiere.

This year's Lost Musicals' season concludes with Mexican Hayride (Sundays only from 5 June to 7 August), a "forgotten hit" with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Herbert and Dorothy Fields. Written in 1944, it's the uplifting tale of a fifth rate racketeer, Joe Bascom, who mistakenly becomes a Mexican hero.

It originally starred Bobby Clark and June Havoc (the original 'Baby June', whose early life is essayed in the musical Gypsy) and spawned the hit song “I Love You”, though it hasn't been revived since its original run.


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