Chu Chin Chow



  • One of London's longest running musical comedies, written byOscar Asche with music by Frederic Norton. It opened in 1916 at HisMajesty's Theatre and ran for 2238 performances over nearly five years.Asche devised the plot, a retelling of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves(see Ali Baba), in a Manchester hotel room and completedthe play three weeks later. When Beerbohm Tree, manager of His Majesty's,first saw the revealing costumes during a rehearsal, he shook hishead and commented, "I see - more navel than military."Asche played Abu Hassan, the robber chief, and made a personal profitof more than £200,000 on a production that cost £5,356.

    The story is about the clever robber, Abu Hassan, who disguiseshimself to gain entry into rich homes. He is welcomed into Kasim Baba'shouse in the guise of Chu Chin Chow, a rich Chinese merchant. Kasim'sbrother, Ali Baba, eventually finds Abu Hassan's secret cave of treasures,Sesame, and robs it. Hassan tries to recover his fortune by smugglinghis men into Ali Baba's house in jars of oil, but the plot fails.

    The songs included 'I Am Chu Chin Chow of China', 'Marjanah'sSong', 'Open Sesame!', and 'The Cobbler's Song'.