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Coming up RosesThe Broadway Musical in the 1950s$
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Ethan Mordden

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140583.001.0001

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(p.78) 5 Kismet
Coming up Roses

Ethan Mordden

Oxford University Press

While operetta was through by the 1950s, there was one more from Edwin Lester—Kismet. Robert Wright and George Forrest wrote the score, as they had done for Song of Norway. But where the earlier show creaked between the singing and dancing, Kismet crackled. For perhaps the first time since Sweet Adeline in 1929, an operetta sported the book of a musical comedy. In place of the stilted, faux-antique dialogue that dogged traditional operetta, Kismet's librettists, Charles Lederer and Luther Davis, wrote in modern colloquial or spoofed Omar Khayyam lingo; and almost all the characters, from leads to bits, contributed to the comedy, whereas operetta's worst quality was its habit of centering all the alleged humor on one or two roles. Most important, where the typical operetta narrative tends to lurch from one setback (to the love plot, usually) to the next, Kismet moves smoothly through an ever-revolving series of rash encounters among five principals, each with his own agenda.

Keywords:   Kismet, Sweet Adeline, Song of Norway, operetta

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