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Plays and Musicals
Noël Coward was a master playwright whose prodigious talent dominated the theatre of the 1920's & 30's. 'The Vortex' made him an immediate hit!, and controversial sensation. 'Hay Fever', 'Private Lives' and 'Design for Living' are as popular today with professional and amateur companies, as when they were first performed. Listed here are his plays, revues, musical plays and productions that use his words and music.
Samuel French have kindly supplied a list of the plays currently published by their London and New York Offices.


London
Bitter Sweet (Libretto)
Blithe Spirit
Come In To The Garden Maud (1 act)
Fumed Oak (1 Act)
Hay Fever
Present Laughter
Private Lives
Relative Values
Still Life (1 Act)
This Happy Breed
Waiting In The Wings
I'll Leave It To You


New York
Astonished Heart (1 Act)
Blithe Spirit
Fallen Angels (US Text)
Family Album (1 Act)
Fumed Oak (1 Act)
Hands Across The Sea (1 Act)
Hay Fever
Nude With Violin
Present Laughter
Private Lives
Red Peppers (1 Act)
Shadow Play (1 Act)
Shadows Of The Evening (1 Act)
Still Life (1 Act)
Ways And Means (1 Act)
We Were Dancing (1 Act)
Noël Coward In Two Keys
("Come Into The Garden Maud" and shortened version of "Song At Twilight")
Cowardly Custard (Revue) Libretto
Noël & Gertie (Revue) Libretto


Play compilations
Play Parade Vols. 1 - 6 - produced from 1933 onwards These are the earliest compilations published by Heinemann.

Methuen Plays series - (the ‘Black’ series) books of collected plays that were first published as a series in 1983 in both hardback and paperback (5 volumes). Since then reissued in paperback (‘Black & Blue’ series) with an introduction by Sheridan Morley in 1994 and again in 1999, in eight paperback volumes, as part of the Centenary publications series by Methuen (Terracotta & Gold), with additional volumes for Sketches & Parodies and Verse and a revised introduction and chronology. (The latter are listed below).

PLAYS 1: Hay Fever, The Vortex, Fallen Angels, Easy Virtue.

PLAYS 2: Private Lives, Bitter-Sweet, The Marquise, Post-Mortem.

PLAYS 3: Design For Living, Cavalcade, Conversation Piece, and from Tonight At 8.30 (Pt. I) Hands Across The Sea, Still Life, Fumed Oak.

PLAYS 4: Blithe Spirit, Present Laughter, This Happy Breed, and from Tonight At 8.30 (Pt. II) Ways And Means, The Astonished Heart, “Red Peppers.”

PLAYS 5: Relative Values, Look After Lulu, Waiting in the Wings, Suite in Three Keys.

PLAYS 6: Semi-Monde, Point Valaine, South Sea Bubble, Nude With Violin.

PLAYS 7: Quadrille, Peace In Our Time, and from Tonight at 8.30 (Pt. III) We Were Dancing, Shadow Play, Family Album, Star Chamber.

PLAYS 8: I’ll Leave It To You, The Young Idea, This Was A Man.

 

Plays, Revues & Musicals
Ida Collaborates - 1917 by Coward and Esmé Wynne.

Women and Whisky - 1918 by Coward and Esmé Wynne.

The Rat Trap - 1918. The first performance at the Everyman Theatre and starred George Carr, Raymond Massey & Allan Wade

I'll Leave It To You - 1919. First production at the Gaiety Theatre, Manchester, actors included Kate Cutler, Noël Coward as Bobbie and Esmé Wynne.

The Young Idea - Sep 25 1922 Opened at the Prince's Theatre, Bristol - actors included Herbert Marshall, Kate Cutler and Noël Coward as Sholto. went on to the Savoy Theatre, London on Feb 1 1923.

Sirocco 1921 - (Revised in 1927). First presented at Daly's Theatre, London and included Ada King, Margaret Watson and Ivor Novello.

The Better Half May 311922. A one act play first seen in the Eighth Series of London's Grand Guignol at the Little Theatre, London. Starred Auriol Lee, Ivy Williams and Ian Fleming.

The Queen Was In The Parlour 1922. First seen at the St. Martin's Theatre, London and included Herbert Marshall and Madge Titheradge in the cast.

Mild Oats - 1922. A one act play that was never produced. Published in 'Collected Sketches and Lyrics'

Weatherwise -1923 Presented by the Noël Coward Company at the Festival Theatre, Malvern with James Mason in an early role.

Fallen Angels - 1923. First seen at the Globe Theatre, London. Comment from John Gielgud's 'Notes From The Gods' - "Brilliantly clever - and brilliant performance by Miss Bankhead. Rest not so good. Last act the best - second act very amusing - first rather gabbled and less well rounded off. The set and theatre both slightly too big for so very light a play, but it was delightfully entertaining all the same."

The Vortex - 1923. First produced at the Everyman
Theatre, Hampstead and after 'overnight success' transferred to Royalty Theatre, London. Kenneth Tynan said in 'Curtains'; " The Vortex, a jeremiad against narcotics with dialogue that sounds not so much stilted as high-heeled, was described by Beverley Nicholls as "immortal." Others, whom it shocked, were encouraged in their heresy by an unfortunate photograph for which Coward posed supine on a knobbly brass bedstead, wearing a dressing-gown and "looking", as he said, "like a heavily-doped Chinese illusionist." From this sprang the myth that he wrote all his plays in an absinthe-drenched coma; in fact, as he has been patiently explaining for nearly thirty years, he drinks little and usually starts punishing his typewriter at seven a.m.

Hay Fever - 1924. Opened at the Ambassador's Theatre, London with Marie Tempest as Judith Bliss. Comedy by Noël Coward.

Easy Virtue - 1924. First presented in the USA at the Broad Theatre, Newark. Joyce Carey was in the cast.

This Was a Man - 1926. First seen at the Klaw Theatre, New York with Terence Neill and A. E. Matthews amongst the cast.

The Marquise - 1926. Produced at the Criterion Theatre, London starring W. Graham Browne, Eileen Sharp and Robert Harris.

Home Chat - 1927. First seen at the Duke of York's Theatre, London.

Bitter-Sweet - 1928-29. An operette presented by Charles Cochran at the Palace Theatre, Manchester with a large cast and featuring the songs 'I'll See You Again' and 'If Love Were All'. The complete score dedicated to Miss Elsie April thus ' My Dear Elsie, I am dedicating this score to you in gratitude for all the unfailing help and encouragement you have given me in music.'

Private Lives - 1929. First seen at the King's Theatre , Edinburgh and starring Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Oliver and Adrianne Allen.

Post-Mortem - 1930. First published 1931 Coward was inspired to write this play after performing in 'Journey's End' with The Quaints, who included John Mills, in Singapore. Although written in 1930 it did not receive its first professional stage premier until 1992 at The King's Head Theatre in London directed by Richard Stirling with some of the great actor names of the past four decades, such as Avril Angers and Sylvia Syms, taking part.

Some Other Private Lives - 1930. This parody sketch of 'Private Lives' was written and directed by Coward and played near the end of the first run of the original play. It featured the cast of the original version and changed the two leads into Fred and Flossie - cockney characters. Also performed later by 'The Noël Coward Company' on tour in Britain.

Cavalcade - 1930-31. Produced by Charles Cochran and using the Drury Lane stage to the full, this spectacular cavalcade of British history from 1899 to 1931 (Coward's life time to that date) inspired with its patriotic themes, icons and fervour.

Design for Living - 1932. Written for Coward, Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Conversation Piece - 1933. Romantic comedy with music. Period piece set in Regency Brighton.

Point Valaine - 1934. A dark comment on the fickleness of love and how we are all made fools by it - even unto death. Set in a hotel on a secluded Island near Trinidad.

Tonight at 8.30 parts I, II & III - 1935 Designed as three evenings of one-act plays and became a treasure-trove for later theatre productions, film and television adaptations. Highlights are: The Astonished Heart, Red Peppers, Still Life (later filmed as 'Brief Encounter',) Fumed Oak and Shadow Play. Originally entitled on tour Tonight at 7.30 and Today at 2.30 (for matinee performances).

Operette - 1937. A musical comedy with a plot that shows the triumph of the head over the heart. Contains the song 'The Stately Home of England' (also used in 'Set to Music'). With musical parodies of the waltz. To some Bitter-Sweet revisited. Noël Coward thought it his least successful musical play.

Present Laughter - 1939. Of the first London production The Daily Telegraph said, " a production gleaming with polish like a lacquer cabinet' Noël as Gary Essendine or as some, less kindly, say, himself, playing a very theatrical actor about to set off on a theatrical tour of Africa. Love plays him for a fool but he returns to all that is dear!

This Happy Breed 1939 Depicts the heroism of ordinary folk as they cope with war, death, love, denial and survival.

Blithe Spirit - 1941. First produced with Cecil Parker in the Charles Condomine role and Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati a role she repeated in the film adaptation.

Pacific 1860 - 1946. Samolo is the setting for this musical romance between a visiting diva (Mary Martin) and a planter's son (Graham Payn). Age difference causes problems but love conquers all.

Peace In Our Time - 1946. What life in England might have been like under the Nazis. The original production at the Lyric was directed by Alan Webb under Coward's supervision. and starred amongst many, Helen Horsey, Kenneth More, Bernard Lee, Elspeth March and Maureen Pryor.

Island Fling - 1951. (South Sea Bubble 1956) 1949 Started life as 'Home and Colonial' then 'Island Fling' and finally 'South Sea Bubble'. A light comedy that ran for 8 performances in Westport, USA and did not last long under its final name and first production in London. Written for Gertrude Lawrence who never played it.

Ace of Clubs - 1949. A complex gangster plot set in the Soho of 1949 in the 'Ace of Clubs' a nightclub, (providing the excuse for every type of song and dance) and environs. Most of the plot twists involve a lost vital package in a mackintosh some jewels and male female tension. The police get their man or men, the girl gets her man and everyone sings their socks off!

Relative Values - 1951. Above and below stairs sisters meet following the marriage of one (film star from Hollywood) to the son of the other's Countess mistress. Newly married sister's murky past is revealed by her servant sister and she then scuttles back to America and the class system status quo resumes.

Quadrille - 1951-52. A comedy in which a Marquess runs away with wife of a rail magnate. Their spouses follow and fall in love. A four hander in 'Private Lives' vein. Alfred starred in performance at the Phoenix Theatre, London.

After the Ball - 1953. Musical play based on Oscar Wilde's 'Lady Windermere's Fan'. Morality and the appearance of morality are not the same thing - Lady Windermere in a family intrigue involving husband 'seeing' a 'tarnished' woman she later discovers is her mother. This prompts her to run of with an Earl. Her mother helps her see the light!

Nude With Violin - 1954. A light comedy about a famous modern painter who hasn't - painted that is. After his demise it is revealed that his work has been done by anyone including a small child. Coward's barbed attack on 'Modern Art' and the 'values' placed on such paintings.

Volcano - 1956. A previously unproduced play produced at Westcliff, England in 2001 and set in the same island of Samolo as in the novel 'Pomp & Circumstance', and play 'South Sea Bubble'. Philip Hoare in 'Noël Coward a Biography' says that it was inspired by Blanche Blackwell's affair with Ian Fleming. Sweat and sex work through the volcano analogy.

Look After Lulu - 1958. A farce based on "Occupe-toi d'Amelie" by Feydeau. An attractive tart is entrusted to a friend by her lover Phillipe when he goes into the army. The friend tricks her into a mock wedding and then all is farce. Originally staged at the Henry Miller Theatre, New York with Tammy Grimes as the eponymous, deceived, heroine who gets her Phillipe in the end.

London Morning - 1959. Coward's only ballet - he wrote the music.

Waiting In The Wings - 1959. The Wings a home for retired actresses experiences all kinds of luvvie excess and star studded politics in getting a new solarium. Funny and sad. Produced by Michael Redgrave after Coward failed to get Binkie Beaumont to produce it.

Sail Away - 1961. A popular vehicle for song and dance and the American actress, Elaine Stricht. A recent concert version with Miss Stricht that took place during the Centenary year was well received.

Suite In Three Keys - (In the USA Noël Coward In Two Keys) 1965. Includes three short plays: 'A Song at Twilight' (was produced recently at the Gielgud Theatre in the West End), 'Shadows of the Evening', and 'Come Into the Garden Maud'.

Star Quality - (stage version) 1966.

Revues with dates and notes

London Calling - Sep 4 1923. A review first seen at the Duke of York's Theatre, London.

On With The Dance - 1924-25. Presented by Charles Cochran at the Palace, Manchester with Douglas Byng and Hermione Baddeley amongst the cast.

This Year of Grace! - 1927-28. A Charles Cochran produced review at the Palace, Manchester and later at the London Pavilion.

Words and Music - 1932. Coward at the peak of his career. A very successful revue.

Set to Music - 1932-38.

Sigh No More - 1945. Opened at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, starred, Cyril Richard, Madge Elliott, Joyce Grenfell and Graham Payn who sang 'Matelot'. Songs included 'Nina' and 'Indian Army Officer'. Item 19. Blithe Spirit was a ballet in this Coward revue choreographed by Wendy Toye and written by Richard Addinsell for nothing!


Revues to which Coward contributed
Tails Up! -1918.

The Co-optimists - 1922-23. At the Palace Theatre, London. Coward contributed two items to the third edition of the revue: 'The Co-communists' and 'Down with the Damn Lot!'.

Charlot's Revue -1924-25. Times Square Theatre, New York. Coward contributed 'There's Life In The Old Girl Yet', 'Parisian Pierrot' and 'Sentiment' (lyrics).

Yoiks! - June 11 1924. Contained two items by Coward: 'I'd Like to See You Try' and 'Its The Peach' used later in the film 'Star' with Julie Andrews and Daniel Massey.

Whitebirds - 1927. A Lew Leslie revue to which Coward contributed one song 'What's Going to Become of the Children' - sung by Maisie Gay. The song was rewritten for 'Together With Music as 'What's Going to Become of the Tots'.

Charles B. Cochran's 1931 Revue - 1931 London Pavilion, London. Coward contributed the following songs: 'Opening Chorus', 'City', 'Any Little Fish', 'Bright Young People', 'Half Caste Woman'. The song 'Foolish Virgins' was only used for the try out performance at Manchester on 18 Feb, 1931.

The Third Little Show - 1931. Music Box Theatre, New York. Coward wrote, 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' sung by Beatrice Lillie and a sketch called 'Cat's Cradle' performed by Ernest Truex who also sang 'Any Little Fish' at they tryout at the Shubert Theatre, New Haven, CT on 4 May, 1931

All Clear 1939 Queens Theatre, London. Coward's offerings were: 'Cat's Cradle' sung by Beatrice Lillie and Bobby Howes, a sketch called 'Secret Service', Marvellous Party sung by Beatrice Lillie and 'Weary Of It All' sung by Lillie and Moya Nugent.

Up and Doing - 1940. Saville Theatre, London. Coward provided, 'London Pride' sung by Binnie Hale.

The Lyric Revue - 1951. Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Coward contributed one quartet, 'Don't Make Fun of the Festival' sung by Graham Payn, Dora Bryan, Robert Huby and Ian Carmichael.

The Globe Revue - 1952. Coward wrote 'There Are Bad Times Just Around the Corner'.

 

Copyright - The Noël Coward Society - May 2001