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Top Islington theatre to stage lost musical by great American composer Cole Porter

PUBLISHED: 13:16 17 August 2012

John Savident as the Magician in Aladdin. Photo by Matt Martin Photography.

John Savident as the Magician in Aladdin. Photo by Matt Martin Photography.

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The historic stage premiere of the last musical written by one of America’s greatest composers will be hosted at a top Islington theatre this week.

Cole Porter’s long-forgotten work Aladdin was written in 1958 but has never before been seen in the theatre.

It was performed just once, for a US television special that was broadcast live but not recorded.

Now it is being revived at Sadler’s Wells in Rosebery Avenue by one of the UK’s foremost experts on the musical theatre of the period.

Director and producer Ian Marshall Fisher, who runs the Lost Musicals project, said: “This will be a huge historical moment and an important moment in theatre.

“It’s the last show he ever wrote. It was commissioned because Rodgers and Hammerstein had got 100 million viewers with a live special that caused a power surge in the US.

“The CBS television network wanted to repeat the trick and they called on Porter. It was quite an event – millions of people tuned in to see this live spectacle.

“It was the thing that was going to make everyone stand still, just like the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. It was exactly the same sort of thing.”

The musical, a collaboration between Porter and the famous US writer and humorist S J Perelman, opens on Sunday at Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio.

It stars John Savident, most famous for playing Fred Elliot in Coronation Street for more than a decade, as the magician. The cast of the original CBS broadcast included British actor Basil Rathbone.

Although he lived until 1964, aged 73, Cole Porter never wrote another lyric or note of music after Aladdin.

It has remained buried ever since, but Mr Marshall Fisher believes it deserves to be recognised as a great work alongside his other musicals such as Kiss Me, Kate.

“It’s got beautiful Cole Porter melodies and his smart wit and there’s no question it deserves a place up there in the canon,” he said.

Aladdin opens on Sunday, with performances until September 2.

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