Book by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis
Music and Lyrics by George Forrest and Robert Wright
Based on the play by Edward Knoblock

Kismet | Book Musical | Rated G

  • About the Show

    Neither Aladdin nor Ali Baba ever had a day like this! In the span of twenty-four hours, Hajj the beggar manages to escape the clutches of a vengeful bandit, drown the evil Wazir of Police, catch the eye of the Wazir's voluptuous wife, serve as Emir of Baghdad, and see his daughter wed to the handsome Caliph.

    From the original hit Broadway and London productions to the popular MGM film and highly successful revivals around the world, this Arabian fantasy has proven a winner with audiences time and again, thanks to its exotic setting, appealing characters and wry sense of humor, not to mention a lush score adapted from the soaring melodies of Alexander Borodin. Packed with mirth, mayhem and romance, KISMET has enough adventure and delight to last at least 1001 Arabian nights!



    At dawn outside a mosque in eleventh century Baghdad, we meet an old man, the Imam of the Mosque, who descends the steps with lantern in hand and looks to the stars. He sings "Sands of Time." Four muezzins appear, calling the faithful to prayers in song, and waking several beggars who complain of the noise and then more generally of the rigors of a beggar's life: "Get up! Start suffering!" As the beggars begin their day's work, some whirling dervishes appear, as does Omar Khayyam, Court Poet of the Calyph of Baghdad and the author of the Rubaiyat. Omar is disappointed to find that Hajj, his regular beggar, is traveling to Mecca. He withholds the coin from the others: "I'm too old to switch beggars now."

    A cry is heard from afar: "It's the public poet," cries a beggar, "Hide your money!" The Poet sings, "Rhymes Have I," designed to loose a coin from the tightest grasp. He brings his daughter, who appears in rags and smudged face, to help close the sale and secure a breakfast for them both. Despite their efforts the beggars walk away: "A man can sell anything in the world except poems." He sends his daughter off to market to steal oranges.

    The Poet sits on the steps of the Mosque and is approached by a beggar who tells him to move, since he's sitting in the best begging spot in Baghdad which is reserved for the return of old Hajj. Omar returns also surprised to find someone sitting in Hajj's spot. The poet claims to be Hajj's cousin and thus a rightful place-keeper for Hajj. He gives him a coin. A fig seller arrives and the Poet first begs for a fig and then issues a stream of curses until he relents. The Poet seems to have found a new calling. He sings "Fate." "Fate can play a trick with the twine/ to weave the evil and good in one design." Hassan-Ben, a henchman for the evil Master Brigand Jawan, enters looking for Hajj. The Poet again identifies himself thus, and Hassan-Ben roars with rage, throws a bag over his head and carries the Poet away.

    In the desert, Master Brigand Jawan crouches over a red-hot charcoal brazier. We are in the hastily assembled desert encampment of Jawan, a fierce, elderly assassin and caravan robber. Hassan-Ben enters carrying the Poet. Jawan wants 'Hajj' to remove the curse that caused Jawan's son to be stolen many years ago. The Poet offers to remove the curse but reminds him that it must be done voluntarily and only adequate payment will do the trick. He pays and the Poet sings of his newfound wealth in a reprise of "Fate."

    Around a group of caravans just outside the city, tradesmen of every description – including a merchant with four pretty, largely naked, dancing slave girls -- occupy the camp. They all sing "Bazaar of Caravans." Their bacchanalia ends with the arrival of the Wazir of Police. Porcine and petulant, he is menacing but oafish. Always the butt of jibes from any crowd, his threat to have his men break some teeth is interrupted by his wife's grand entrance. She arrives in a silk-draped litter carried by half-naked slave men. She is clothed lightly in silk and scented oil; this is the lascivious and libidinous Lalume. She eyes the new slave hungrily but is interrupted by the Wazir who, deep in debt, demands to know if she’s secured a loan. She hasn’t, but she has been promised ten camels loaded with riches if they can marry three Ababunian princesses to the Commander of the Faithful, our hero the noble Caliph himself. The princesses appear, young and fierce, brandishing swords in an exotic dance. They fall prostrate at the Wazir’s feet. Unfortunately their language is all but unintelligible; it is clear, however, that they are homesick and unhappy Baghdad. Lalume and the Wazir desperately try to convince the young princesses of Baghdad’s charms singing “Not Since Nineveh,” to entice them to stay.

    As they all exit, the merchants resume crying their wares. Marsinah, the Poet’s daughter runs by with her stolen oranges, pursued by the orange merchant. The Poet enters and knocks the merchant down, who runs off in search of police. The Poet asks Marsinah what she would desire if she could have anything in the world. "Breakfast!" she answers unequivocally. Her father suggests that she should bigger, then gives her his gold. She’s overwhelmed as all the merchants gather round to gawk at her riches. She dreams of a life of luxury as the merchants dress her; they sing "Baubles, Bangles and Beads."

    The Caliph admires Marsinah from afar. Omar tells the Caliph to remember the ancient rule about falling in love "If you fall in love in Baghdad—get thee to Damascus. If you fall in love in Damascus —get thee to Baghdad." Marsinah reappears dressed provocatively; the transformation is stunning. The song rises to a climax, Marsinah and others exit, followed by the Caliph, in a trance.

    It is a beautiful garden outside the widow Yussef's house, the home Marsinah has long coveted. The garden features a flowering mulberry tree and a small stone bench with a well beside it. Marsinah asks the widow if the house is for sale. Of course it is – it’s a musical! The widow exits. Marsinah rhapsodizes about how her family could grow here in this garden. The Caliph arrives and they sing "Stranger in Paradise." They embrace.

    The Poet appears on a side street lolling upon a richly cushioned Oriental rickshaw pulled by four beautiful slave girls. He wears a golden turban and a tunic of cloth of gold; he puffs on a hookah. The Wazir's police intercept him and ask his identity. He pauses and then offers a bribe if they'll go away. Their leader seizes his purse and sees that it has the mark of the house of Achmed, who was robbed by Jawan the Brigand. They arrest him and he lamely cries that it’s all a mistake, that he’s a poet. They demand a poem, he offers one of his lesser efforts and they take him off to the Wazir.

    In the throne room of the Wazir of Police; we see the Wazir pacing in front of his throne, the Three Princesses of Ababu are having their hair done. The rivals for the Caliph’s hand are presented to the Wazir, each more deserving than the last. Lalume enters to find a despairing Wazir. He opens his Court of Justice to cheer himself up. The Poet is brought before him, who proceeds to throw himself on the Wazir's mercy and to fawn over Lalume. The Poet proclaims his innocence, relating how he earned the gold pieces by removing a curse from Jawan’s household. The unimpressed Wazir sentences him to having his right hand cut off. The Poet complains that a poet needs his hand to tell his tales in the song "Gesticulate," throughout which he continues to flirt with Lalume. The Wazir is still unimpressed and as the guards take him off to his fate, the Poet curses the Wazir with all his might.

    Suddenly, Jawan is brought before the Wazir and confirms that he had paid the Poet for removing the curse. He continues, complaining that he still hadn’t found his son, when he notices the amulet round the Wazir's neck. He produces a matching amulet. Jawan has found his son! "Of course," says the Poet. But wait, the Wazir recalls that the Poet had cursed him and, yet, it seems to have had no effect.

    The Caliph bursts in announcing that he’s chosen a wife, a wife other than the Ababuh princesses. This is unhappy news indeed for the Wazir and his wife. The Caliph leaves and the Wazir finally impressed with the Poet's powers and convinced that he can use them to stop the Caliph's wedding, grants the Poet the title of Emir. The Wazir is called to confer with a committee of his creditors. The Poet continues to flirt with Lalume and they kiss with considerable enthusiasm. A commotion ensues outside. The Caliph intends to be married right away and is going to claim his bride. The Wazir returns with his entourage and threatens to skewer the Poet unless he does his magic right away. The Poet spins an elaborate verse and sings a reprise of "Fate." His masterful verse has entranced all those present. And as Lalume 'helps' the Wazir to participate in the song by bowing his head, the Poet sneaks out of a side window.


    Outside the Widow Yussef’s house at moonrise, the Caliph and Omar are preparing for his marriage. The Caliph sings "Night of My Nights." Guests arrive with the wedding finery. The Caliph dons a plain "incognito" cloak and leaves. Marsinah enters and sings a reprise of "Stranger in Paradise." Her father the Poet arrives, gives her 90 gold pieces and tells her she must escape to Damascus immediately, as her life is at risk. She tries to tell him that she’s to be wed but, as he is her father, she agrees, hugs him and they both leave in tears. The Caliph and his entourage appear. Caliph tells them to hide themselves until he signals them with the loud snap from the closing of a large silver box filled with jewels for his bride. He sings a reprise of "Baubles, Bangles and Beads." The widow Yussef enters and mistakes the Caliph for a merchant, then, realizing her mistake begs for forgiveness. He grants it and asks if she has seen Marsinah. She tells him that Marsinah had just been here in the embrace of another man. Heartbroken, the Caliph has everyone return to the Palace, feigning happiness, so no one will know that there is no bride.

    The chief of police is waiting impatiently in an anteroom of the Wazir's harem. The Wazir and Lalume rush in. The policeman confirms that spies from all over the city also report that there is not bride. He gestures to three large pots in the background from which rise three black-hooded spies. The Wazir has already heard reports that the Caliph was married, as evidenced by the jovial return of his entourage to the Palace. "A subterfuge," reveals the policeman as he relates that the 'commoner' bride never appeared.

    The Wazir is overjoyed, sends for the Poet to receive his reward and sings how his subtlety has gotten him where he is today in "Was I Wazir." The Poet arrives and the Wazir gives him a crown, a mirror to admire himself and attendants to satisfy every want. Omar enters and the Poet greets him in verse. Omar notes that an Emir who is a poet is rare indeed. The Poet agrees, bragging that someday he will supplant the royal 'old' poet, Omar Khayyam. He continues his insults until he finally realizes to whom he is speaking. "Omar, my friend, there is always something to be learned—even from fools." He sings "The Olive Tree."

    On a terrace atop the Wazir's harem, open to the stars, the Poet is wearing the Emir’s Crown. Lalume has been instructed by her husband the Wazir to 'delight' the Poet. All is right with the world and they and the harem girls sing "Rahadlakum" [Turkish Delight]. The girls leave and the Poet and Lalume discuss where to vent their lust, just as the Wazir is heard coming down the hall. The Poet dives behind the divan. The Wazir cannot find the Poet, when suddenly he pops up, as if by magic, from where he is hiding. "Where did you come from? That would be hard to explain—to a layman." The Wazir leaves, reminding Lalume to keep the Poet happy, and Marsinah enters. The Poet introduces his daughter and Lalume leaves to make arrangements for her quarters. Marsinah explains that she’s in love but that now she cannot have him. The Poet offers that all he has as Emir is hers, but she is heartbroken. Just beyond their hearing the Caliph enters and, giving a poetic if vague description orders his guards to find his missing love in "And This is My Beloved." As they sing, they remain just unaware of the other.

    In the anteroom of the Wazir's harem, the Caliph is rhapsodizing, again, to the Wazir about his lost love. The Wazir tries to console him by offering to peek through a secret mirror into his harem. Though disgusted by this peeping, he looks just as Marsinah is looking for her quarters. The Caliph mistakenly believes that she is just a harem girl and, therefor, unworthy to be his wife. He instructs the Wazir to bring all candidates for his marriage to the Caliph's Diwan tonight and leaves. The Wazir believes that the Poet must have arranged it to clear the way for the Caliph's marriage to the Ababu princesses. He instructs the chief policeman to note his marriage to Marsinah a month ago. When she hears of his plans, Marsinah threatens to kill herself rather than submit.

    The Caliph's Great Audience Hall—a royal, very spacious chamber—dominated by a grand throne, a large bathing pool and fountain in the center of the room, all the nobles of Baghdad have gathered, including the Wazir and Lalume. Omar makes a grand entrance and introduces the Caliph, who takes his place on the throne. The marital candidates are paraded before the Caliph: the beauteous Princesses of Zanzibar and Turkestan perform exotic belly dances. Finally, the three Princesses of Ababu appear, promising that each has committed to marry that third of him that each can serve best. Their dance demonstrates what they mean.

    As Omar reads a selection from his Rubaiyat, Wazir tells the Poet about the circumstances surrounding his 'marriage' to Marsinah. He's stunned. The Wazir misunderstands his reaction and tells him not to worry as he plans to poison her tonight. In a fury, the Poet reaches for his knife, then, noticing the pool thinks of a better plan and returns it to its scabbard. Getting everyone's attention, the Poet holds an empty plaque aloft walks to the pool and sits on the lip. "I will throw this empty plaque into the pool . . . When fetched from the water, this magic plaque will be inscribed with the name of the bride our Caliph will choose!" (Unseen by all but the audience, he writes 'Ababu' on an identical plaque and instructs the Wazir to hide it in his boot.) The Poet has the lights dimmed, throws the empty plaque in, and then grabs the Wazir's foot, holding his head under water. In verse the Poet describes the Wazir’s crimes and asks the Caliph what sentence such crimes would garner. "Death." "I thank you for your verdict! It has been carried out." The Wazir has drowned. The Poet throws the foot into the pool and runs out in darkness. The light returns, Marsinah is brought in followed by the Poet. The lovers are reunited but the Caliph could not possibly have a criminal as...a...father-in-law! They all join in the "Finale," singing "Lovers come, Lovers go/ and all that there is to know/ Lovers know ...only lovers know!"

    Casting Information

    Musical Cast Size:

    Large (over 20)

    Casting Info:

    Cast Type:

    Ethnic Roles, Older Role(s), Showcases trained singers, Star Vehicle - Female, Star Vehicle - Male, Strong/Large Chorus

    Dance requirement:

    Heavy (Extensive Dance Sections/Solos), Standard (Musical Staging/Some Dance/Optional)

    Casting notes:

    Character Breakdown


    The young commander of the faithful and handsome young Prince of Baghdad.
    Male, 18-25 yrs old
    Range: E3 - Bb4




    Charismatic, conniving, and quick-witted King of the Beggars. He is also a caring father.
    Male, 40-55 yrs old
    Range: A2 - F#4


    Wazir's father. A notorious thief and murderer.
    Male, 55-70 yrs old
    Speaking Role


    Wazir's sexy, gorgeous wife. She is a voluptuous and restless seductress.
    Female, 30-40 yrs old
    Range: G#3 - Bb5


    Hajj's young daughter who falls in love with Caliph. Kind, considerate, and innocent.
    Female, 16-21 yrs old
    Range: D4 - A5


    Caliph's elder Adviser and a famous mathematician and poet. Spry, acerbic and quick of wit.
    Male, 50-65 yrs old
    Speaking Role


    A crooked and corrupt political official. Porcine, petulant, menacing.
    Male, 35-45 yrs old
    Range: G#2 - F4

    Performance Group:

    Musical Size:


    Production Material

    Rehearsal Set:




















    HORN 1 & 2







    TRUMPET 1 & 2






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