Somehow, sunny days and Disney just seems to go together. On this sunny Sunday afternoon, we are listening to Aladdin, Disney’s retelling of one of the more familiar tales from One Thousand and One Nights. Alan Menken wrote the music, with lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, who finished the score after Ashman’s death.
It was highly successful, in fact the most successful film of 1992. It won 2 Academy awards for Best Score and Best Song, has sequels, video games, and several stage adaptations.
But the mysterious Middle East has been the vehicle for many shows throughout the years. In 1925, Otto Harbach and Sigmund Romberg wrote The Desert Song, set in Arab North Africa. This was a hot location in the twenties, due to films like The Sheik, Son of the Sheik and Beau Geste. It’s your classic boy has hidden swashbuckling identify, who the girl likes better than his “mild-mannered” persona.
The Desert Song –Kitty Carlisle and Wilbur Evans (1944)
Eastern and Western Love – Nelson Eddy, Wesley Dalton, Lee Cass and Ensemble (1953)
Kismet is one of my all-time favorite musicals. Written in 1953 by Robert Wright and George Forrest, adapted from the music of Alexander Borodin, it is full of wonderful Edwardian claptrap and unbelievable situations, and of course ends happily every after. Except for the wicked Wazir. Something in common with Aladdin!
Fate – Howard Keel
Not since Nineveh – Dolores Gray
Stranger in Paradise – Ann Blyth, Vic Damone