NOEL, GERTIE AND BEA
Record Company: Parlophone PMC 7135
Notes
Beatrice Lillie has been described as the funniest woman in the world, Gertrude Lawrence as themost glamorous woman ever to appear on the stage, and Noel Coward is universally known as The Master. Strong cases can be made out for the validity of all three descriptions and this album can only strengthen them. Of course, a mere gramophone record cannot bring you the sheer physical radiance with which Gertie lit up any stage on which she performed, nor can it illustrate how Bea can make the raising of an eyebrow seem like the funniest thing you have ever seen and certainly, to appreciate Noel's artistry to the full, one needs to see him rather than merely to hear him. But even though a record is a one-dimensional thing, when dealing with artists of this calibre half a loaf is very much better than none. Canadian born Beatrice Lillie made her first professional appearance on the stage of the Chatham Music Hall in 1914, when she herself was only 19 years old. Two years later she was featured at London's Vaudeville Theatre in a revue called "Some". The actual stars of the show were an American Vaudeville team, Lee White and Clay Smith and in the chorus (and also under-studying Bea) was a young girl that they had seen working in Swindon and brought to the attention of the producer, André Charlot, Gertrude Lawrence.

On April 26th, 1917, the same stars appeared in another Charlot revue titled "Cheep" with Gertie still there in the chorus. From this came Bea's first records and we have included in this album 'Shoot the Rabbit', a typical ragtime number of the period by the same writers as the well-known 'Ballin' the Jack' and 'Julia' which is a piece of special material written for her showing that already her command of comedy was fully developed. Through the mists of the antique recording this would be instantly recognisable as Beatrice Lillie to someone who had only previously heard her most recent performance.

For "Buzz Buzz", which opened on December 20th, 1918, Charlot had a new line-up of stars including Nelson Keys and Margaret Bannerman and featuring Gertrude Lawrence who sang 'Winnie the Window Cleaner', which became her first recording and is included in this album.

A few weeks after the opening of "Buzz Buzz" Beatrice Lillie appeared at the Kingsway Theatre in "Oh Joy", described as a musical play by Guy Bolton and P.G.Wodehouse with music by Jerome Kern. From this comes the slightly risque 'Rolled Into One'. Bea was now an established star, but although Gertie had made quite a success in "Buzz Buzz" her penchant for high-spirited practical joking made Charlot decide that she needed a lesson and he fired her from the show. Charlot eventually re-engaged her as under-study to Bea in a new show and it was now that she really got her chance, for a few weeks later Bea had a riding accident in which she was injured so badly that she had to be out of the show for several months. Gertie stepped into her place and was such a success that her reputation was made.

In 1921 for the second time Bea's misfortune was to be Gertie's good luck when the former had to withdraw, due to ill-health, from a new revue called "A to Z" and Gertie stepped into the breach. The other stars of the show were Jack Buchanan, Teddie Gerard and the Trix Sisters. Miss Gerard had a song entitled 'Limehouse Blues' with which Gertie made a sensation when, in 1924, Charlot presented his Revue starring Beatrice Lillie, Jack Buchanan and Gertrude Lawrence at the Times Square Theatre, New York. Jack Buchanan took the town by storm and as for the ladies, very soon all New York was singing "Lillie and Lawrence, Lawrence and Lillie. If you haven't seen them. You're perfectly silly".

Gertrude Lawrence first met No61 Coward in the Spring of 1913 when both of them were appearing as child actors at Liverpool in a play called "Hannele". Gertie remembered him at that time as---athin unusually shy boy with a slight lisp- whereas he remembered her as "far from pretty but tremendously alive---. They became good friends and their paths crossed occasionally through the years until, in 1923, when Noel was just beginning to make a name for himself as a writer, composer and actor of promise, Charlot presented a revue called "London Calling", which had largely been written by Noel, and starred them both. In it Gertie sang Parisian Pierrot which Noel sings on this album.
By 1925 Noel was firmly established as one of the leading men of the theatre with no fewer than four shows running at one time in the West End, one a revue entitled "On With the Dance", from which came his first major song hit 'Poor Little Rich Girl' originally sung in London by Alice Delysia and introduced in "Charlot's 1926 Revue" in New York by Bea.

It would take far more space than is available here to go into detail about the subsequent careers of our three stars. The best we can do is mention a few of the major highlights and indicate where they tie in with this album.

"Charlot's Revue" in 1925 starred Gertie and Bea and in it they gave their joint impressions of a typical American sisters act which included a burlesque by Bea of Fanny Brice singing 'I Wonder What's Become of Sally' and Gertie imitating Sophie Tucker singing 'Big Boy'. For the occasion they were known as the Sisters Apple-Seedy and Cora. The partnership of Noel and Gertie was renewed on stage in 1930 with their never-to-be-forgotten success in "Private Lives", from which comes 'Someday I'll Find You', and again in 1933 in 'Tonight at 8.30,' from which we present the 'Family Album Scene' and also 'We Were Dancing'. In that same year Bea sang 'Baby Doesn't Know' in a show called "Please" at the Savoy Theatre.

'What Now' and 'An Hour Ago this Minute' are from a radio play in which Gertie starred in 1934.

Unhappily Gertie died in 1952 at the height of her success while playing in the "King and I' on Broadway. Bea continues to delight us with her one-woman shows and recently appeared in the film "Thoroughly Modern Millie" in which she easily stole the notices. Noel is now of course Sir Noel Coward and has recently scored hits as both author and actor on stage in "Suite in Three Keys" and in such films as "TheItalian Job" and "Boom".

All three have long since earned their places amongst the immortals of the entertainment business. Future generations should be grateful that they have albums like this to show how they did it. Noel Hendrick

NB. Due to the extreme rarity of the original records from which this album has been taken certain tracks have of necessity been dubbed from less than perfect copies. Some surface noise and distortion is therefore inevitable but every effort has been made to minimise this without interfering with the original sound of the 78s
Tracks
Side One:
1. Medley of Noel Coward successes: Noel Coward
Parisian Pierrot (K. Prowso-World Music-Britico-NCB)
Poor Little Rich Girl (Ascherborg-Hopwood &Crew Ltd.)
A Room With A View (Chappell &Co. Ltd.)
Dance Little Lady (Chappell &Co. Ltd.)
Someday I'll Find You (Chappell & Co. Ltd.)
Any Little Fish (Chappell & Co. Ltd.)
If You Could Only Come With Me (ChappelI&Co. Ltd.)
I'll See You Again (Chappell& Co. Ltd.) (All compositions by Noel Coward)

2. Baby Doesn't Know (Gideon-Warren) ... Beatrice Lillie (At the piano: Edward Cooper) Francis Day-MCPS-NCB.
3. What Now? (from "BigBusiness"). (Green-Dyrenforth) . . . Gertrude Lawrence Chappell&Co.ltd.
4. World Weary (Coward)...Noel Coward Chappell & Co.Ltd.
5. A Baby's Best Friend (Rodgers-Hart) . . . Beatrice Lillie (At the piano: Edward Cooper) Chappell- MCPS-Britico-NCB.
6. An Hour Ago This Minute (from "BigBusiness") (Coward) . . . Gertrude Lawrence Chappell & Co. Ltd.
7. Rolled Into One (from "0h Joy") (Wodehouse-Kern) . . . Beatrice Lillie (with Kingsway Theatre Orch., conducted byLeonard Hornsey) FrancisDay-Chappell
8. Winnie the Window Cleaner (from "BuzzBuzz") (Jeans-Darewski) ... Gertrude Lawrence (with Vaudeville Theatre Orchestra) Darewski Music-MCPS-Britico-NCB.
Side Two
1. Medley of Getrude Lawrence Successes: . . . Getrude Lawrence
Limehouse Blues (Braham-Furber) Ascherberg-MCPS-Chappell-NCB.
You Were Meant For Me (Coward-Braham-Blake) K. Prowse-World Music-Britico-NCB.
Do Do Do (Gershwin) Chappell-MCPS-Britico-NCB.
Someone To Watch Over Me (Gershwin) Chappell-MCPS-Britico-NCR.
A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich and You (Mayer) Chappell-MCPS-Britico-NCB.
Wild Thyme (Braham-Furber) Ascherberg-Hopwood & Crew Ltd. Experiment (Potter) Chappell-NCB.

2. The Family Album (Coward) ... Noel Coward & Gertrude Lawrence (with Phoenix Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Clifford Greenwood) Chappell & Co. Ltd.
3. We Were Dancing (Coward) ... Noel Coward Chappell & Co. Ltd.
4. Julia (from "Cheep'') Heard-leFeuvre.) .... Beatrice Lillie (with Vaudeville Theatre Orchestra, conducted byAllbert W. Ketelbey) Darewski Music-MCPS-Britico-NCB.
5. Broadway Medley: . . . Beatrice Lillie and Gertrude Lawrence (with Syncopated Quartet)
Chloe (Trad.)
Cover Me Up With The Sunshine Of Virginia (Meyer) Francis Day-NCB-Britico.
I Wonder Whta's Become of Sally (Ager) Lawrence Wright
Doo Wacka Doo (Gaskill-Donaldson-Horther) Francis Day-KB.
Big Boy (Ager) Lawrence Day
6. Shoot The Rabbit (from ''Cheep") (Burris-Sinith) ... Beatrice Lillie (with Vaudeville Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Allbert W. Ketelbey) Francis Day-MCPS-NCB.
Compiled from the E.M.I. Archives by Chris Ellis

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Copyright - The Noel Coward Society - May 2001