CBS Blithe Spirit
CD Catalogue
Family Album
Have You Seen?
Home Chat
Marvellous Party
Relative Values
Sheet Music
Society Events
Society Executive
Television & Radio
Theatre Links
What's On?
What's On? Details
Your News

The Noel Coward Society is the trading name of Noel Coward Ltd, a company wholly owned by the Noel Coward Foundation, a registered charity. The Society is autonomous, run by an executive committee

Noel Coward - The Great Shows
Record Company: 2 CD Set
Sir Noel Coward is the real proof that the old adage "Jack of all trades, master of none" can be very wrong! Playwright, novelist, songwriter (words and music), director, actor, singer, his successes have encompassed almost every entertainment medium - theatre, film, radio, television and records. There was a time, not so long ago, when it was fashionable among certain critics to dismiss Coward's writing as 'brittle', 'lacking in depth' and worst of all 'ephemeral' though the public rarely seemed to agree with such assessments. Sir Noel's own comment on the situation was that he had to console himself with 'the bitter palliative of commercial success'. However, recent revivals of such plays as "Private Lives", "Blithe Spirit", `Hay Fever and above all the Mermaid Theatre revue "Cowardy Custard" containing material written over a period of more than 40 years have made it clear, even to the critics, that his best work has a timeless quality that will ensure its survival and indeed much of it seems to take on an added lustre with the passing of the years.
This double album presents the original cast recordings taken from four of Sir Noel's musical shows plus some contributions from The Master himself, often where no original cost versions exist.

BITTER-SWEET - First presented at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on 2nd July 1929 and subsequently at His Majesty's Theatre, London on 12th July 1929. Coward's own favourite amongst his works is a romantic operetta in the Strauss-Lehar tradition. The central role of Sari Linden was originally conceived with Gertrude Lawrence in mind but during the writing it became obvious that the music would be too taxing for her rather small voice and it was offered instead to Evelyn Laye. She however, was unable to accept at the time (though she did play with great success in the 1929 American production and eventually took over in London in November 1930) and the part eventually went to the American Peggy Wood who scored a great success as did her leading man George Metaxa in the role of Carl Linden. Notable amongst a fine supporting cast that included Austin Trevor, Robert Newton and Norah Howard was Ivy St. Helier as Manon (La Crevette). The story, told In flashback, opens in 1929 at a small dance being given by the elderly Marchioness of Shayne. She relates to her guests the story of how, when she was 16 year old Sarah Millick, she eloped to Vienna with her teacher Carl Linden. In Vienna Carl became the leader of the orchestra at Schlick's Cafe and, Sarah a dancing partner at the same establishment. They are ideally happy until one night Sarah repulses the amorous advances of an Austrian Army Captain and Carl is killed in the duel which follows. Sarah, who by now is known as Sari, goes on to became a famous singer, singing the songs that Carl had written for her and eventually marries again and becomes the Marchioness of Shayne. The play ends as the old lady sings for her guests the haunting waltz " I'll See You Again". The brilliant title, which so aptly sums up the mood of the piece, was suggested to Sir Noel by his close friend Alfred Lunt.

CAVALCADE - First presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury lane on 13th October 1931. One of the most spectacular productions of all time, "Cavalcade" used to the full the entire resources of the vast stage at Drury Lane. It's enormous cast included Mary Clue, Edward Sinclair, Irene Browne, Una O'Connor, John Mills, Binnie Barnes, Arthur Macrae, Moya Nugent and Fred Groves. It is a story of English family life during the first 30 years of the Twentieth Century seen against a background of the major events of those years, Highlights include the relief of Mafeking, the funeral of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic and Armistice Night 1918. In the interests of authenticity Coward relied largely on actual songs of the times, interpolating only two major compositions of his own, "Lover of my Dreams" used as part of a pastiche musical, "Mirabelle", which is being sung when the relief of Mafeking is announced and "Twentieth Century Blues", a typically Cowardian comment on current (1930) times, sung and danced in a nightclub setting towards the end of the show. Neither Stella Wilson who mated "Lover of my Dreams" nor Binnie Barnes who song 'Twentieth Century Blues" recorded their songs but Coward himself did and he also recorded the famous "Toast To England" originally spoken by Mary Clare.

CONVERSATION PIECE - First presented at His Majesty's Theatre on 16th February 1934. Coward's intention was to write a vehicle for the great French star Yvonne Printemps and in that he succeeded admirably, The setting is Brighton in the year 1811 and the piece described as "A romantic comedy with music". Paul, Duc cle Chauccigny-Verrenes, impoverished by the French Revolution brings Melanie, a little waif he found working as an acrobat in a low cafe, to England and passes her off as the daughter of the Marquis de Tramont in the hope of arranging a wealthy marriage on which he will take a commission. Though there are suitors in plenty the final curtain in this clever variation on the old "Daddy Long-legs" theme finds Paul and Melanie together.

OPERETTE - First presented at the Opera House, Manchester on 17th February 1938 and subsequently at His Majesty's Theatre, London on 16th March 1938. Coward regarded "Operette" as the least successful of his musicals and said that it was "over-written and under-composed". Undoubtedly there was some truth in his observation for despite a cost list that included Peggy Wood, Fritzi Massary, Griffith Jones, Irene Vanbrugh and Phyllis Monkman, only 133 performances were given before the show closed. However, the, score included at least two top-drawer numbers in "The Stately Homes of England" and 'Dearest Love".
The plot makes use of a 'play within a play' device, the inner of the two being "The Model Maid" a musical comedy of the period 1960 and concerns an imaginary Gaiety Girl who becomes a star over-night and then sacrifices love to her career. The great European leading lady Fritzi Massary emerged from retirement to play Liesi Haren, star of "The Model Maid" and Peggy Wood made a great personal success as Rozanne Gray, the Gaiety Girl. Included here is one song recorded by Coward himself "Gipsy Melody" which was performed only in the Manchester try-out and omitted from the London production.

ACE OF CLUBS - First presented at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on 16th May 1950 and subsequently at the Cambridge Theatre, London on 7th July 1950. Coward gave a contemporary setting to his story of Soho nightclub singer Pinkie Lerory (Pat Kirkwood) and her romance with sailor Harry Homby (Graham Payn) which is complicated by a stolen emerald necklace which accidentally gets into Pinkie's possession and is thereafter sought for by both crooks and police, Needless to say, justice and true love triumph in the end.
If the plot and characters (spivs, gangsters, etc.) seem a little out of Coward's metier, he more than mode up for this with a delightful score. The original cast recordings were made in the form of medleys and in order that the listener need not miss the brilliance of Sir Noel's lyric wit we are including also his own full recordings of three of the main songs. In 1961 the song "Sail Away", originally from "Ace of Clubs" was used again as the title number for a new Noel Coward musical show.
Peter Orchard 1973

(NB, For a more detailed analysis of the shows included in this album listeners should consult the invaluable "Theatrical Companion to Coward" by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson published by Rockcliff 1957, and covering Sir Noel's output to 1956 with exceptional accuracy.)
1. I'll See You Again
2. If Love Were All
3. Dear Little Cafe
4. Zigeuner
5. Lover Of My Dreams
6. Twentieth Century Blues
7. Toast To England
Conversation Piece
8. I'll Follow My Secret Heart
9. Regency Rakes
10. Charming, Charming
11. Dear Little Soldiers
12. There's Always Something Fishy about the French
13. English Lesson
14. Melanie's Aria
15. Nevermore
16. Countess Mitzi
17. Dearest Love
18. Gypsy Melody
19. Stately Homes Of England
20. Where The Songs We Sung
21. Operette
Ace of Clubs
22. Nothing Can Last Forever
23. I'd Never Know
24. Something About A Sailor
25. My Kind Of Man
26. This Could Be True
27. Josephine
28. Sail Away
29. Why Does Love Get In The Way
30. In A Boat On The Lake With My Darling
31. Chase Me Charlie
32. Evening In Summer
33. I Like America
34. Three Juvenile Delinquent
35. Josephine
36. Why Does Love Get In The Way
37. I Like America


Record Notes Index

1944-48 On The Air
20thCentury Blues
Ace of Clubs
After the Ball
Age of Style
Noel Coward on the Air
Apple Cart, The
Audio Biography
Best of Nole Coward, The
Bitter-Sweet 1988
Bright Was The Day
Cabaret Medley
Cavalcade - Play
Cavalcade - Songs
Cavalcade Suite
Compact Coward, The
Conversation Piece
Dear Madam Salvador
Girl Who Came To Supper
Got to Be Love, I'ts
Grand Tour, The
Great Shows, The
High Spirits
His Excellency Regrets
I Like America
If Love Were All
I'll See You Again
I'll See You Again
I'll See You Again
I'll See You Again
I'll See You Again
Invitation to the Waltz
At Las Vegas
London Morning
Mad About the Man
Medley - Noel Coward
In New York
Noel Coward Sings
Noel and Gertie
Noel and Gertie 1955
Noel, Gertie & Bea
Noel Coward Vocal Gems
One, Two, Three
Perfect Nostalgia
Poor Little Rich Girl
Poor Little Rich Girl
Poor Little Rich Girl
Pretty Littel Bridesmaids
Private Lives
Private Lives
Revues, The
Sail Away
Someday I'll Find You
Some Day I'll Find You
Songs of Noel Coward
Songs of Noel Coward
Songs of Noel Coward
Sophistication 2
Star Quality
Talent to Amuse, A
The Mster Sings
30 mins with Bea Lillie
This a Changing World
Together With Music
Tonight at 8.30.
Vocal Gems
Words & Music, The
Words & Music, Cole Porterl

 Site designed by John Knowles. All material © The Noel Coward Society, 2000 [ Contact ]