[ 'Chu Chin Chow', 1916; Musical; WW1] Collection of related material from Norton's papers, including autograph musical scores; signed typescript of song by Asche; newspaper cuttings; correspondence; sheet music. [ London. ]
Between 1916 and circa 1966. 'Chu Chin Chow' was a hugely-popular extravaganza based on 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', which, produced and directed by the Australian actor-manager Oscar Asche (1871-1936), premièred in London in 1916, and ran for five years and 2238 performances (more than twice as many as any previous piece), followed by numerous productions and revivals worldwide, as well as two British feature films. The phenomenal success of the piece may be gauged from the fact that it earned Asche alone £200,000. (For more information, see the entries for Asche and Norton in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.) The present collection (in good overall condition, on aged and worn paper) derives from Norton himself, through his sister Emily, with whom he lived latterly in a cottage in Somerset, and to whom he gave his rights to the piece. Included in the collection are: autograph musical scores by Norton for various parts of the musical; a signed typescript of a song by Asche; Norton's scrapbook of newspaper cuttings; a copy of the agreement between Asche and Norton; copies of letters; sheet music. The following description is divided into 14 parts. ONE: Autograph musical scores by Norton for various parts of 'Chu Chin Chow'. Totalling 134pp., 4to. On loose leaves of Chappell & Co. scored paper. [Circa 1916.] Mostly rough early drafts in pencil, with corrections and emendations. Includes: a folder of 'Chu Chin Chow | New Numbers' (with word 'Suggested' added before second line), including 'New scene'; 'Seventeen'; 'Slave duet contd.'; 'In the Cactus Grove'; 'The Prayer in the Desert' (one of two versions); 'Suggested dance in Chu Chin Chow'; 'New End. Nile Song'); 'Overture' (retitled from 'Ta tao'); 'Theme for Chu Chin Chow Film'; two versions of '"Cleopatra's Nile" (Marjanah and Chorus)', 'Sung by Miss Violet Essex' (one with note: 'Proof wanted by Thursday'); 'I built a fairy palace in the sky'; 'Duet (Alcolom and Ali Baba) "How dear is our day"'; 'Slave duet (Marjanah & Nuralhuda' ('Words by Oscar Asche | Music by Frederic Norton | Holford | Bridgewater | Somerset'); 'Serenade (Nur-al-Huda)'; 'Japanese dance & Ali Baba's entrance'; 'Duet (Marjanaha and Ali Baba) "All my days till end of life"'; 'Duet (Marjana & Nur-al-Huda) "If I liken thy shape &c"'; a folder of material, titled 'Act I | Numbers in order'. TWO: Signed typescript of the words to the 'Chu Chin Chow' song 'I love you so', titled in manuscript 'Stage version of "I love you so"', and signed in pencil at end 'Oscar Asche'. 1p., 4to. Accompanied by the autograph musical score of a piece by Norton with the same title (from which the version in Chu Chin Chow was adapted?), setting 'Words by Hartley Carrick', and with the following at the foot of the first page: 'Copyright MCM+VI [i.e. 1906] Keith, Prowse & Co Ltd.' THREE: Page of draft of Asche's text of 'Chu Chin Chow', with pencil emendations by him. 1p., 4to. The names of the characters 'Marjana' and 'Nur al Huda' have been emended from 'Morgiana' and 'Ganem'. FOUR: Neat manuscript copy of 'Memorandum of agreement made this 23rd. day of August One Thousand nine hundred & sixteen 23:VIII:1916 between Frederic Norton of 55 Carlton Hill, S. John's Wood in the County of London (hereinafter the licensor) of the one part and Oscar Asche of 29 Abercorn Place S. John's Wood in the County of London (hereinafter called the licensee) of the other part.' 9pp.; landscape 12mo. FIVE: Folio 'Ideal Scrap Book' containing 203 newspaper cuttings relating to 'Chu Chin Chow', 1916-1920. Conveying a vivid and immediate picture of the production's phenomenal success. A handful of cuttings from New York periodicals in 1917: all the rest from British ones and dating from between 1916 and 1920. Each British cutting is attached to a cut-down Durrant's Press Cuttings form giving the name of the periodical and the date. Periodicals include: Aberdeen Journal; Birmingham Post; Bristol Times & Mirror; Croydon Advertiser; Daily Chronicle; Daily Express; Daily Mirror; Daily Sketch; Daily Telegraph; Eastern Daily Press; Era; Financial News; Glasgow Evening Citizen; Globe; Graphic; Horse and Hound; Illustrated London News; Kensington News; Lady's Pictorial; Licensed Victualler; Manchester Guardian; Newcastle Chronicle; News of the World; Nottingham Guardian; Pelican; Referee; Scotsman; Sheffield Independent; Sporting & Dramatic News; Stage; Standard; Times; To-day & T.P.'s Weekly; Western Morning News; Westminster Gazette; Winning Post. With a further 19 cuttings from British periodicals in 1920 on full Durrant's forms inserted loosely at the rear. The Glasgow Advertiser, 7 January 1920 carries the following piece, with a photograph of Norton: '"Chu Chin Chow" Composer | Mr. Frederick Norton, the composer of the Oriental music in "Chu Chin Chow," got his "atmosphere," he says, in the Far Eastern district of St. John's Wood, London. He thinks in the circumstances that the remark of one of the critics of the show that the music is about as Oriental as Hampstead is rather a compliment.' SIX: TLS to Norton from the theatrical agent Reginald Golding Bright (c.1874-1941). On Bright's London letterhead; 29 February 1940. The letter discusses how the firm of Samuel French 'acquired a license in 1939 for the sole and exclusive right to produce "Chu Chin Chow" with living actors throughout the world for a period of 7 years. This was done apparently in order to safeguard the play against inferior professional performances which were hurting the leasings for amateurs.' Affixed to the head of the letter is a newspaper cutting relating to 'C.C.C. Play Productions'. SEVEN: Autograph exercise book, signed by Norton on first page, with label on front cover: 'Correspondence relating to Chu Chin Chow & Stone of Destiny chiefly from Gray & Jock Prentice also copies of own replies'. 40pp., small 4to. The first 20pp. contain heavily-corrected drafts of poems, presumably for putting to music. (Example: 'We ran out of soup | We ran out of gravy | The whole of the Navy | Developed the croup | We ran out of rum | We ran into weather | Our lungs were like leather | Our voices were dumb | Then just as we thought we'd a' died o' the cold | A cargo of "Bisto" was found in the 'old.') The following sixteen pages carry transcripts from letters of 1940, several relating to Sir Oswald Stoll's 1940 Drury Lane revival of 'Chu Chin Chow'. In a copy of a letter to R. E. Gray, 16 February 1940, Norton writes: 'In 1921 I settled on my sisters under a trust deed all my rights in Chu Chin Chow.' There are a further 4pp. of draft poems at the rear. EIGHT: Typewritten piece on 'Chu Chin Chow' by Norton's sister [Emily Norton], titled 'A Famous Musical'. Signed at the head of the first page. 3pp., 4to. Written around 1966, the piece begins: 'Nearly fifty years ago on a wet day in the Green Room Club Oscar Asche said to my brother Frederic Norton "I am writing a play on Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, will you do the music?"' NINE: Short Autograph Note by Norton regarding a production (in 1940) of Chu Chin Chow. 1p., 12mo. On Norton's Hare Knap letterhead; undated. Begins: 'Producer Robert Altayn | Manager Guy Charles | Man behind it Harry Isaacs & Fenston, who has Steel works & broke both legs in black out, now on crutches'. A list of seven cast members follows, beginning with '"Chu". Lyn Harding'. TEN: Printed score of 'Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton production. Sung by Mr. George Parker. The Prayer in the Desert. Song. From Chu Chin Chow. A Musical Tale of the East.' (London: Keith, Prowse & Co. Ltd., copyright 1918). With Norton's signature stamp on title-page. ELEVEN: Printed score of 'Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton production. Sung by Miss Violet Essex. "Cleopatra's Nile." Song from Chu Chin Chow. A Musical Tale of the East.' (London: Keith, Prowse & Co. Ltd., copyright 1916). With Norton's signature stamp on title-page. TWELVE: Black and white studio photographic portrait of Norton, 14.5 x 10 cm. Signed by the photographer 'Ava' on the mount, with inscription by Norton on 31.5 x 21.5 cm: 'From [corrected to 'to'] Ethel Williams | (This is a mess) | Dear | Frederic Norton March 1946'. THIRTEEN. Black and white studio photograph of a bust of Norton, 19.5 x 11 cm. Tipped in onto 26 x 15 cm mount, which is signed in pencil 'Basil'. The mount itself laid down on 37.5 x 23.5 cm mount. FOURTEEN: [Printed} Plan of Tables for the Chu-Chin-Chow Dinner, 'The Criterion', Sunday, December 14th, 1919 (The O.P. Club [Old Players)) attended by both Frederic Norton and Oscar Asche (High table).