Drake, Morrow and Diener lead a dreamy cast in exotic Broadw
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 03/01/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"KISMET is a grand old rollicking ride, a thrilling score taken from the immortal themes of Borodin, written by Robert Wright and George 'Chet' Forrest, and starring the big-voiced leading man Alfred Drake as the colourful poet Hajj.
Derived from the play by Edward Knoblock, the story concerns fast-talking poet Hajj and his daughter Marsinah, as they get tangled up with the Wazir and the voluptuous Lalume, amongst others. Dulcet-toned Doretta Morrow (the original Tuptim in THE KING AND I) plays Marsinah with Joan Diener (MAN OF LA MANCHA's original Aldonza) in her Broadway debut as Lalume. Alfred Drake (from the original casts of OKLAHOMA! and KISS ME KATE) has the right amount of attitude and swaggering brag to play Hajj.
The score is best-remembered for delights like "And This is My Beloved", "Stranger in Paradise", "Baubles Bangles and Beads", "Not Since Nineveh" and "Gesticulate". This sparkling reissue of the original 1953 cast album (which is the exact same disc as the 1998 Broadway Masterworks pressing but in a new, "eco-pack" cardboard sleeve) includes a fascinating excerpt from 'Stage Struck', a radio programme of the day which interviewed Drake, Morrow, the composers and album producer Goddard Lieberson during the recording sessions for the cast album, a few days after opening night. KISMET ran for a not-too-shabby 583 performances."