A TALENT TO AMUSE
Record Company:Single CD featuring Peter Greenwell - Noel Coward's last accompanist. Cat No:SILVAD3009
Notes
Noel Coward, once described by Arnold Bennett as "the Congreve of our time". and by Terence Rattigan as a "phenomenon", was born in Teddington on 16th December 1899. His parents were not well off and his education was scrappy, but his mother taught him to sing and dance and he made his first appearance before an audience in 1907 at the end of a term concert singing "Coo" from A COUNTRY GIRL. As a child he sang in choirs and trained for the Chapel Royal Choir but failed to gain admittance. His first professional appearance was at the Little Theatre in January 1911 when he played Prince Mussel in a children's fairy-tale play called THE GOLDFISH, having answered a newspaper advertisement for the part. In the same year he was engaged by Charles Hawtrey and continued until he was eighteen as a boy actor playing such parts as Slightly in PETER PAN, William in WHERE THE RAINBOW ENDS and Charley Wykenharn in CHARLEY~S AUNT. He was called-up for military service in 1918 but was discharged a few months later because of a head injury.

By now he had written a number of songs, a novel or two and some short stories; his first play THE LAST TRICK (1918) was written in a week and bought by an American agent but was never produced. His comedy I'LL LEAVE IT TO YOU was presented in London in 1920 with Coward playing one of the leading roles. This was followed by THE YOUNG IDEA (1922) inspired by Shaw's YOU NEVER CAN TELL - but his real break~through was in 1923 with the Charlot Revue, LONDON'S CALLING. His early plays, including THE VORTEX (1924) and FALLEN ANGELS (1925), aroused a great deal of controversy, as did HAY FEVER (also 1925). Coward wrote, several revues for C.B.Cochran including ON WITH THE DANCE (1925) and THE YEAR OF GRACE (1928). The reaction to this success culminated in a riot on the first night of SIROCCO (1927) but he was again successful in 1929 with the sentimental romance BITTER SWEET, in 1930 with PRIVATE LIVES and in 1931 with the Patriotic CAVALCADE. Coward became one of the most prolific authors of his time with an almost non-stop outpouring of plays, revues, sketches and lyrics. DESIGN FOR LIVING and CONVERSATION P~)~iece both appeared in the early thirties, to be followed by the nine one act plays of TONIGHT AT 8.30 (l~35) and BLITHE Spirit (1941). PRESENT LAUGHTER and THIS HAPPY BREED were both produced in 1942 and later works include RELATIVE VALUES (1951), NUDE WITH VIOLIN (1956), WAITING IN THE WINGS (1960) and SAIL AWAY (1962). In 1966 a triple bill, SUITE IN THREE KEYS, was seen in London.

Coward, had a successful career in films as both actor and director and often appeared in the first production of many of his own plays. He was also the author of two volumes of autobiography, PRESENT INDICATIVE (1937) and FUTURE INDEFINITE (1954), which have been successfully published with PAST CONDITIONAL, written in the mod-1960's, in one volume. In December 1969 a midnight matinee in honour of his seventieth birthday was given under the title A TALENT TO AMUSE and in January 1970 he was knighted for serv ice to t he theatre. He died in 1973.
Peter first came to prominence as a composer with his score for the musical THE CROOKED MILE which was produced with great success at the Cambridge Theatre, London and the Theatre am Gartnerplau, in Munich. His other West End musicals were TWENTY MINUTES SOUTH at the St.Martin's Theatre, HOUSE OF CARDS at the Phoenix and THE THREE CASKETS and ANTARCTICA for the Players Theatre.

His film scores include THE VIRGIN SOLDIERS and for his musical arrangement for Ken Russell's film THE BOYFRIEND he received an Academy Award Oscar nomination.

Among numerous television credits for composition and arrangements are the award-winning series THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS, NOT SO MUCH A PROGRAMME, BBC 3, VICTORIA REGINA, ALICE eic. and more recently two series of SONG BY SONG highly acclaimed both here an in the USA.
For many years Peter collaborated with the late Caryl Brahms and Ned Sherrin both on radio TV and in the theatre, and their musical THE MITFORD GIRLS was one of the great successes at the Chichester Festival Theatre, subsequently transferring to the Globe Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue. It was while auditioning the show for the Mitford sisters themselves that Debo, Duchess of Devonshire, said to Peter, 'Where do you ,sing, as a rule?". "Nowhere", he said and she said ---Well,you should!" - that was the beginning of Peter's performing career.

Peter's first solo stage app~arance came in April 1984 when he was seen in NOEL, the charity performance honouring Noel Coward at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. He sang and played a number of Coward songs - a fitting tribute as Peter himself accompanied Noel Coward in his own cabaret performances.

In July 1984 he made his West End cabaret debut at London's famous Pizza on the Park. He opened for two weeks to unanimous acclaim from press and public: "A must - his command of Noel Coward is unmatched' said The Sunday Times. "A piano entertainer of the highest class" (Financial Times), "A cabaret turn in infinitely nostalgic charm" (Punch). The season was sell out and this success has been repeated on many occasions since.

Radio and TV appearances followed with more concert and cabaret engagements, including Marbella and Memphis, Tennessee. In 1985 he again collaborated with Ned Sherrin on the SLOANE RANGER REVUE, produced at the Duchess Theatre.

Peter delighted Chichester Festival Theatre audience in the.. summer of 1994 in the popular musical NOEL/COLE - LET'S DO IT. In the Minerva Studio Theatre he played his one-man show A TALENT TO AMUSE to capacity audiences and in February 1995 he returned for a repeat performance, by public demand, to the main Festival Theatre.

This album was recorded in July 1995 in StratfordUpon-Avon just before Peter was preparing to embark on a UK tour with A TALENT TO AMUSE
The Shakespeare Institute
The University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute is unique in the. world. Situated in Shakespeare"s home town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, close to his birthplace and the theatres of the Royal Shakespeare Company, it is dedicated to the advanced study of the work of Williant Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

The Institute has a world-wide reputation. Successive Directors have been general editors of the principal editions of Shakespeare's works of the last few decades. Scholars from all over the world attend the Institute for the International Shakespeare Conference, held every two years.. As the centre for graduate study, the Institute has invaluable resources for research.

The Institute is housed at Mason Croft, an attractive eighteenth^century building in Church Street; 8 tratford-Upon -Avon. To accommodate increasing demand for Institute courses and its growing collection of books, microfilms and unique research material, the University has planned a new Shakespeare Institute Library in the grounds of Mason Croft. The aim of the Shakespeare Development Campaign is to raise the funds to build the new library and to confirm its Position as a major international resource.
1,1 the short time since it was launched in October 1993 the Campaign has met with a considerable degree of success. Funds to cover the construction of the library building have been provided by the Johymic Johnson Trust. In recognition of its supp'ort and the personal involvement of Mr.V.H. (Johnnic) Johnson, the library will be named the Johnson Library of the Shakespeare Institute. In addition donations have been received from charitable trusts, companies, and the former students and friends of the Institute, augmented from the University's own funds. It is planned that the John Library will be open for use in September 1995.

Despite this impressive progress there is still some way to go before the Campaign's goals are fully achieved. Funds are required for a courtyard reading room to link the library to the existing building. The equipping of the new 1Anary with the most recent developments in information technology also remains to be provided for. Finally support is needed to enable the University to offer financial assistance to well-qualified students who wish to study at the, Institute.
Tracks
Medley
If love Were All
Dance Little Lady
Poor little Rich Girl
Play Orchestra Play
2. Uncle Harry
3. Sail away
4. "I first met Noel ..."
5. Mad Dogs and Englishmen
6. A Room With a View
7. London medley
London is a Little Bit of All Right
What-ho Mrs. Brisket
London at Night
London Pride
8. Could You Please ObligeUs With a Bren Gun
9. That Is The End of The News
10. Any Little Fish
11. Why Must The Show Go On
12. He was very much involved ..."
13. Wordl Weary
14. In a Bar on the Piccola Marina
15. Mrs. Worthington
16. Where Are The Songs We Sung
17. Mad About the Boy
18. The Party's Over Now

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001