Aladdin (Cole Porter)

Original Television Cast, 1958 (Columbia/Sony) 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) The later-in-life work of most great musical theater writers isn’t up to the quality of their more youthful forays; but with the exception of his score for the film Les Girls, Cole Porter ended his career somewhere close to his high standard. Aladdin was an original television musical, a popular entertainment form at the time. Major teams such as Rodgers & Hammerstein, Bock & Harnick, and other great composers and lyricists contributed to the genre, with mixed results. Porter’s Aladdin, with a libretto by S.J. Perelman, was among the best of the bunch. produced at the end of a wonderful era wherein most entertainment suitable for children was equally enjoyable for adults. Apart from its tuneful and witty score, it had a dream cast: stage veterans Dennis King and Cyril Ritchard, film favorites Una Merkel and Basil Rathbone, and newcomers Anna Maria Alberghetti and Sal Mineo. All of them brought their unique talents to the project. A highlight of the score and the highly enjoyable cast album is “Come to the Supermarket (in Old Peking.” — Ken Bloom

Original London Cast, 1960 (Columbia/DRG) 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) Cole Porter’s Aladdin was never adapted for presentation on Broadway, but the London stage production — tarted up as a Christmas pantomime — yielded this unfortunate recording. It includes a few songs interpolated from other Porter shows, none of which fit the spirit and tone of the original; they’re too jazzy and out-of period. Doretta Morrow displays a wonderful voice on the recording, but it sounds, shall we say, too mature for the character of the princess. (She does offer a first-class rendition of “I Am Loved,” interpolated from Out of This World.) Cyril Ritchard is sorely missed on this recording, as is the maturity and authority of Dennis King. And whereas the original TV production had great orchestrations by Robert Russell Bennett, this one features more “mod” arrangements that haven’t withstood the test of time. — K.B.