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Choreographer Withdraws From English National Opera's Kismet; Dress Rehearsal Canceled

By John Nathan
22 Jun 2007

Choreographer Javier de Frutos
photo by Chris Nash

The forthcoming English National Opera production of Kismet — starring Broadway's Faith Prince and the West End's Michael Ball — has been affected by "creative differences" between American director Gary Griffin and Venezuelan choreographer Javier de Frutos, resulting in De Frutos's withdrawal from the production and the cancellation of tonight's dress rehearsal.

Reports in London's Daily Mail that friction between choreographer and director climaxed with De Frutos refusing Griffin access to dance rehearsals have not been denied by the ENO spokesperson.

An official statement from ENO and De Frutos — who this year won an Olivier Award for his choreography for the London revival of Cabaret — said, "By mutual agreement Javier de Frutos has withdrawn from English National Opera's production of Kismet as a result of creative differences."

It was also agreed that De Frutos's name and biography would be removed from the production's program. Nikki Woollaston has been brought in to finish preparations for the dance sequences and will be credited with "Musical Staging."

The ENO's spokesman told Playbill.com, "The dress rehearsal scheduled for June 22 has been moved to June 25, but the official opening night remains June 27 as previously scheduled and announced." The first preview will now be June 26 rather than June 25.

The ENO staging marks the first new West End production of the musical in nearly three decades. This revised version of Kismet has been conceived by director Griffin, writer-performer Kit Hesketh-Harvey and Luther Davis, who penned the original book with Charles Lederer.

Kismet, originally billed as "a Musical Arabian Night" in 1953, is a rollicking and romantic look at Middle-Eastern life borrowing melodies from the Russian composer Alexander Borodin.

The book is by Lederer and Davis, drawn from a play by Edward Knoblock, with music and lyrics by Wright and Forrest (Grand Hotel, Song of Norway, Kean). The score includes "Stranger in Paradise," "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" and the raucous "Not Since Nineveh."

Faith Prince won a Tony Award for her performance as Adelaide in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls and starred Off-Broadway in the Lincoln Center production of A Man of No Importance. Her numerous Broadway credits include Noises Off, Bells Are Ringing, James Joyce's The Dead, Little Me, The King and I, What's Wrong with This Picture?, Nick & Nora and Jerome Robbins' Broadway. Her solo recording, "Leap of Faith," was recorded live at Joe's Pub and is available from DRG Records. Prince will return to Broadway later this season in the new musical A Catered Affair.

Information on and tickets for Kismet are available at www.eno.org.





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