Noel Coward Sings His Score for The Girl Who Came to Supper
Record Company:
Just a few years ago Noel Coward was interviewed by Dick Cavett on television. Cavett led off by asking, "Sir Noel, how do you account for the fact that you have been so successful all these years in so many fields of the entertainment arts: actor, playwright, composer, lyricist, director in theatre and film, nightclub star, short story writer, and novelist?" Coward, in that clipped, incisive, secure way which was so characteristic of him, replied with one word: "talent."

Thus, Noel Coward described and explained himself. He was being no more than fair, no less than honest. He was, and though alas he is no longer here, the quintessential man of the theatre of this century. No other man or woman combined every facet of theatre to so high a degree. I will not recite his credits. I have not been allowed enough space.

The Girl Who Came To Supper was the last musical for which Coward wrote the score. 1 think it was the only one of his for which he did not write the book; and one of the few in which he did not perform.
How did it come to be?

On a cold night in February 1961, I attended a Philharmonic concert at Carnegie Hall. What triggered the thought I cannot imagine, but at some point during the performance, I said to myself (very quietly) that The Sleeping Prince would make a good musical. Oddly enough, 1 had never seen Terence Rattigan's play, but I had seen the film version (The Prince And The Showgirl) which starred Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. I called the Drama Bookshop, that invaluable repository of dramatic literature, and had them send me the play. Reading it strengthened my resolve and I telephoned Rattigan in London. He was agreeable to granting me an option on the rights, and within a few days after a meeting with his agent, I had made the deal. All I had to do (among other things) was get a librettist, a lyricist, a composer, a scenic designer and sets and props, a costume designer and costumes, an orchestrator, a conductor, a cast, a stage manager, stagehands, a press agent, advertising copy, a theatre (out of town for a tryout, and in New York), and half a million dollars. (Today it would be a million dollars.) Thus, do 1 answer the most persistent and annoying question so often asked by the layman, "What does a producer do?"

One of the dearest friends I've ever had was Harry Kurnitz. After a long career as a successful Hollywood writer he turned to the theatre, and in reasonably quick succession had written Reclining Figure, Once More With Feeling, and A Shot In The Dark, all of which were Broadway successes. 1 put the idea up to Kurnitz and he agreed to write the book.

And now Noel Coward. He was the man I wanted for the score but knowing he had always written the book as well, 1 didn't have the nerve to suggest he only do the score. That fall 1 was in Paris for a few days, and one evening had dinner with a group of friends which included Stanley Donen, the enormously talented film director. "What are you working on?" he asked, and 1 told him, going on to my thoughts about Coward. Donen upbraided me for my hesitancy, pulled out his address book and gave me Coward's number in Switzerland. The next day I phoned; he was most receptive and we went on from there.
The album you are about to hear were demonstration records made by Coward for a variety of uses: for prospective backers, for musical arrangers, and for record companies, etc.

Of the songs which did not remain in the show, one is called "Long Live The King - If He Can." It was sung by the Regent and was perfect for him; it was loved by the audiences. While we were in Philadelphia on our tryout tour in that dark November of 1963, the tragedy of Dallas occurred. The song was never heard again. I have treasured these records for some fourteen years. I hope that now many more than a few close friends will enjoy them as I do. - Herman Levin September, 1977
In his book 'The Lyrics of Noel Coward (1965), Coward made a brief comment on his work for "The Girl Who Came to Dinner":
"Most of the lyrics on this were inspired, as they should be by the book - Harry Kurnitz via Terence Rattigan. I would like to draw the reader's attention, if he is still withy me, to the five 'London ' songs and the intricate rhyming of the 'Coronation Chorale.' There are also some pleasant pastiche lines in the period musical comedy sequence, 'The Coconut Girl'
The Girl Who Came to Supper opened at the Broadway theatre, New York City on December 8, 1963, following engagements ins Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia. It closed on March 14, 1964 after 113 performances.
Acetates intended as demos for prospective backers of the show. A most interesting aural document-- close your eyes and it could be cabaret. Recorded c1963.
1. Time Will Tell
2. Long Live The King - If He Can
3. I've Been Invited To a Party
4. Footman's Sextet ( Title changed to When Foreign Princes Come To Visit Us)
5. Sir or Ma'am
6. If Only Mrs. Applejohn Were Here
7. I'm A Lonely Man
8. London - London Is a Little Bit Of All Right, What Ho, Mrs. Brisker, Saturday Night at the Rose and Crown, What's The Matter With a Nice Beef Stew, Don't Take Our Charlie For The Army
9. Here and Now
10. Westminster Abbey (Title changed to Coronation Chorale)
11. How Do You Do Middle Age?
12. Curt, Clear and Concise
13. Just People
14. I'll Remember Her
15. Come Be My True Love
16. The Coconut Girl - Welcome to Pootzie Van Doyle, The Coconut Girl, Paddy Macneil (and His Automobile), Swing Song, Six Lilies of The Valley, The Walla Walla Boola

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001