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Chu Chin Chow
Chu Chin Chow Pot
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Chu Chin Chow Pot

World War 1 brought a demand for escapist entertainment. The big hits on the London stage were Chu-Chin-Chow, The Maid of the Mountains and The Bing Boys are Here starring George Robey and Violet Loraine who sang the smash hit ‘If you were the Only Girl in the World’. The spectacular musical Chu Chin Chow became the stage’s longest running show with 2,235 performances at His Majesty’s Theatre in London opening on 31 August 1916.

Lily Brayton in Chu Chin Chow
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Lily Brayton in Chu Chin Chow

Oscar Asche in Chu Chin Chow
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Oscar Asche in Chu Chin Chow

Chu Chin Chow was based on the Arabian Nights tale of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. It was a big budget spectacular costing £5,300 with over a dozen scene changes, fantastic sets, big dance routines and exotic costumes. The design for the show had been inspired by the fashion for all things Eastern which had originated with Diaghilev’s production of the ballet Scheherazade. This had starred Nijinsky and the costumes had been designed by Leon Bakst.

Chu Chin Chow costumes
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Chu Chin Chow costumes

The big hits of Chu Chin Chow included ‘Any Time’s Kissing Time’ and ‘The Cobbler’s Song’.

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World War 1

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1914-1918, 'The Great War'. Most of Europe, Britain, Russia and the US, joined forces to defeat Imperial Germany and Austria. Battles were mostly fought using 'trench warfare' resulting in enormous casualties on both sides.