Last updated
Timbutku! musical playbill.png
Original Broadway Playbill
Music George Forrest
Robert Wright
LyricsGeorge Forrest
Robert Wright
Book Luther Davis
BasisThe musical Kismet
Productions1978 Broadway

Timbuktu! is a musical, with lyrics by George Forrest and Robert Wright, set to music by Borodin, Forrest and Wright. The book is by Luther Davis. It is a resetting of Forrest and Wright's musical Kismet . The musical is set in 1361 in Timbuktu, in the Empire of Mali, West Africa.



The musical premiered on Broadway at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on March 1, 1978, and closed on September 10, 1978, after 221 performances and 22 previews.

The original production starred Eartha Kitt as Shaleem-La-Lume, William Marshall as Hadji, Gilbert Price as the Mansa of Mali, Melba Moore as Marsinah, and George Bell as the Wazir. Ira Hawkins replaced Marshall prior to the Broadway opening. [1] It was directed, choreographed and costume designed by Geoffrey Holder, with sets designed by Tony Straiges. Alan Eichler was associate producer. [1] Gerald Bordman noted that the sets and costumes had "a Ziegfeldian opulence." New songs based on African folk music were added to provide "some tonal verisimiltude." [2]

Following its Broadway run, it toured for more than a year with Kitt continuing in her starring role as Shaleem-La-Lume, Gregg Baker as Hadji, Bruce Hubbard as the Mansa and Vanessa Shaw as Marsinah. [3]


Awards and nominations

1978 Tony Award nominations
1978 Drama Desk Award nominations

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eartha Kitt</span> American singer (1927–2008)

Eartha Mae Kitt was an American singer and actress known for her highly distinctive singing style and her 1953 recordings of "C'est si bon" and the Christmas novelty song "Santa Baby".

<i>Kismet</i> (musical) 1953 US musical by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis

Kismet is a musical adapted by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis from the 1911 play of the same name by Edward Knoblock, with lyrics and musical adaptation by Robert Wright and George Forrest. The music was mostly adapted from several pieces composed by Alexander Borodin. The story concerns a wily poet who talks his way out of trouble several times; meanwhile, his beautiful daughter meets and falls in love with the young caliph.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Luther Henderson</span> Musical artist

Luther Henderson was an American arranger, composer, orchestrator, and pianist best known for his contributions to Broadway musicals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Geoffrey Holder</span> Trinidadian-American actor and dancer (1930–2014)

Geoffrey Lamont Holder was a Trinidadian-American actor, dancer, musician, and artist. He was a principal dancer for the Metropolitan Opera Ballet before his film career began in 1957 with an appearance in Carib Gold. In 1973, he played the villainous Baron Samedi in the Bond film Live and Let Die. He also carried out advertising work as the pitchman for 7 Up.

Richard Eldridge Maltby Jr. is an American theatre director and producer, lyricist, and screenwriter. He conceived and directed the only two musical revues to win the Tony Award for Best Musical: Ain't Misbehavin' and Fosse.

Luther Berryhill Davis was an American playwright and screenwriter.

Donald Holder is an American lighting designer in theatre, opera and dance based in New York. He was born in 1962. He has been nominated for fourteen Tony Awards, winning the 1998 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for The Lion King. He won a second Tony in 2008 for the revival of South Pacific. His lighting design for Paradise Square has been nominated for a 2022 Tony Award for Best Lighting Design of a Musical. Additional Broadway credits include: Tootsie, Anastasia, Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof, The Bridges of Madison County, She Loves Me, The Cherry Orchard, The King and I,Big Fish,Annie , Golden Boy, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Arcadia, The Motherfucker With The Hat, Promises, Promises, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Radio Golf, The Little Dog Laughed, Movin' Out, The Times They Are a-Changin', A Streetcar Named Desire, Holiday, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway credits include Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told. He was the theatrical lighting designer for seasons one and two of the NBC-Universal television series Smash.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">54th Tony Awards</span> 2000 awards ceremony

The 54th Annual Tony Awards was held at Radio City Music Hall on June 4, 2000 and broadcast by CBS. "The First Ten" awards ceremony was telecast on PBS television. The event was hosted, for the 3rd time since 1997, by Rosie O'Donnell, with special guest Nathan Lane.

Christopher Akerlind is an American lighting designer for theatre, opera, and dance. He won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design for Indecent. He also won the Tony Award for Best Lighting Design and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for Light in the Piazza and an Obie Award for sustained excellence for his work Off-Broadway.

Bruce Hubbard was an American operatic baritone. A Drama Desk and Laurence Olivier Award nominee for Best Actor, he performed on Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera, BBC television, in concert and made several recordings. He is most famous for appearing as Joe in Show Boat, and as Jake, as well as Porgy, in Porgy and Bess on Broadway, the West End, and in several major opera houses and regional theatres. He graduated from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

They Knew What They Wanted is a 1924 play written by Sidney Howard. The play premiered on Broadway in 1924 and had three Broadway revivals, as well as a London production.

Tim Hatley is a British set and costume designer for theater and film. He is the winner of the Tony Award for Best Set Design and Best Costume Design, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Set Design, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design, and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Set Design.

Catherine Zuber is a costume designer for the Broadway theater and opera, among other venues. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, and has been referred to as "one of theater's most sought-after costume designers on both coasts."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tom Kitt (musician)</span> American composer and musician

Thomas Robert Kitt is an American composer, conductor, orchestrator, and musician. For his score for the musical Next to Normal, he shared the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Brian Yorkey. He has also won two Tony Awards and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Next to Normal, as well as Tony and Outer Critics Circle nominations for If/Then and SpongeBob SquarePants. He has been nominated for eight Drama Desk Awards, winning one, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for Jagged Little Pill in 2021.

Kismet is a three-act play written in 1911 by Edward Knoblauch. The title means Fate or Destiny in Turkish and Urdu. The play ran for 330 performances in London and later opened in the United States. It was subsequently revived, and the story was later filmed several times and adapted for the 1953 musical.

Raise the Roof is a Broadway producing entity. It is composed of the producers Harriet Leve, Jennifer Isaacson, and the members of WalkRunFly Productions: Brandon Victor Dixon and Warren Adams.

The Philanthropist is a play by Christopher Hampton, written as a response to Molière's The Misanthrope. After opening at the Royal Court Theatre, London in August 1970, the piece, directed by Robert Kidd, transferred to the May Fair Theatre in the West End and ran there for over three years, subsequently going on a regional tour in 1974. In the meantime, the play, directed once again by Kidd, premiered on Broadway in March 1971, running till May of the same year. Kidd had previously collaborated with Hampton on When Did You Last See Your Mother? (1964), which had also been staged at the Royal Court Theatre.

Tony Straiges is a scenic designer for the stage and ballet. He has designed the sets for 17 Broadway musicals, plays and specials. His sets "often have a sparse elegance or sense of fantasy about them." Robert Brustein said of Straiges: "Today, he is considered one of the visual poets of the stage." Straiges attended the Yale School of Drama at Yale University.

Toni-Leslie James is an American costume designer for stage, television and film. James was awarded The Irene Sharaff Young Masters Award and the 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Costume Design. She received a BFA in costume design from The Ohio State University. James was an associate professor and head of design in the theatre department of Virginia Commonwealth University for 12 years, and is currently an assistant professor of design and Yale Repertory Theatre resident costume designer for the Yale School of Drama.

William (Bill) Martin was an American theatre director, playwright, and acting coach. His credits include Tony Award nominated rock opera The Lieutenant. He received a Drama Desk Award nomination for “Best Director.


  1. 1 2 "Timbuktu! – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB". www.ibdb.com.
  2. Bordman, Gerald Martin. American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle, "Act Six:Full Circuit; or, Return of the Brits" American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle (3rd ED.), Oxford University Press US, 2001, ISBN   0-19-513074-X, p. 750
  3. "Geoffrey Holder, actor and Tony-award winning director, dies at 84". Los Angeles Times. October 6, 2014.