Our look at shows that have not yet crossed the Atlantic but deserve a British showing last week brought to mind shows that deserve a revival in Town. We have just seen Half a Sixpence but few other shows are revived, with the exception, of course, of the ever popular Lloyd Webber, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Sondheim shows.
Our suggestions are mainly home grown shows from a century of Musical Theatre. The order is not one of preference.
The Arcadians is more than a century old but the themes of finding Utopia still resonate. It could look simply wonderful on the National Theatre’s Lyttelton stage.
Valmouth – Sandy Wilson’s clever and extremely funny musical adaptation of Ronald Firbank’s book was seen in revival in Chichester in 1995 but never transferred to London.
Zip Goes a Million – with a delicate touching up of the book as was brilliantly done for Me and My Girl this very British musical comedy boasts a great score by George Posford and Eric Maschwitz. Originally conceived as a vehicle for George Robey, star changes proved it to be a vehicle for any talented comic singing actor.
The Dancing Years – Ivor Novello’s most endearing show has a strong story line as well as a terrific score and two major star roles. A touch of operetta may be a welcome change in London and it could do well touring.
Lock Up Your Daughters – Lionel Bart before Oliver! It was written with Laurie Johnson and is based on Henry Fielding’s comedy Rape Upon Rape. A success at the Mermaid and again in a revival at Her Majesty’s, but that was half a century ago. A good tuneful bawdy evening – just ask ‘When does the ravishing begin?’.
Irma La Douce – this was revived in the seventies but it was not a good production and flopped – scarring Charles Dance away from musical theatre for ever. The score is a delight and the book has charm.
Bless the Bride – This Vivian Ellis hit of the forties had a revivals at the Kings Head and at Sadler’s Wells decades ago. The score is perhaps Ellis’s best and the A P Herbert book is fun and rather British.
Bitter Sweet – Noel Coward’s masterpiece had a successful revival at Sadler’s Wells but deserves another revisit – this is another show that would look good on the National’s Lyttelton stage.
Oliver! – Yes this has been revived and revived but in a blown up ‘sparkling new’ productions. What a joy it would be to see Lionel Bart’s world-wide hit it in its glorious imaginative original set with the original direction and perhaps back at the Noel Coward Theatre (once the New and the Albery) where it’s success started.
And So to Bed – one to be treated with love and understanding. The story of Pepys and his famous diary, the musical, again by Vivian Ellis, was a comic hit. There is no doubt the book would need work as it was basically a play with songs added. A comic tour-de-force (does Tom Hollander sing?) with an always popular tale.
Perhaps you have some ideas too!!!
Rexton S Bunnett Illustrated from the Overtures Archive