Kismet | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Kismet 

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KISMET, Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre. This is one of those musicals that cry out to be revived before they're forgotten. A 1954 Broadway hit and winner of five Tony awards, it's a broadly written "Arabian Nights" fantasy with a pastiche score, by Robert Wright and George Forrest, broadly borrowed from melodies by Aleksandr Borodin. The merry book, by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis, follows the adventures of a wily 11th-century poet who helps his good-hearted daughter to marry the Caliph of the Abbasids and outwits a nasty Wazir of Police.

Apart from refurbishing such once-huge hits as "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," "And This Is My Beloved," and "Stranger in Paradise," Dominic Missimi's witty, pell-mell staging never skimps on gorgeous spectacle. Indeed, Disney's Aladdin has nothing on Marriott's pseudo-Oriental spectacular. Re-creating a prebombed Baghdad, Thomas Ryan's bazaar set swirls with Kenneth Moore's color-crazed lighting, its rainbows echoed in Nancy Missimi's sumptuous costumes.

The music-hall dialogue, with its Arab stereotypes and sexist situations, is sometimes far from subtle, but the ensemble take it seriously. Timothy Nolen blusters brilliantly as the poet, while Susan Moniz charms her way through assorted scrapes as his deserving daughter. Tony Capone as the crooning Caliph brings a classic tenor to his serenades. And Jim FitzGerald as the bloodthirsty Wazir and Alene Robertson as his salacious first wife never lose a laugh. --Lawrence Bommer

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