Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

Fred Cochran, the hero, is a down-at-heel gangster, trying to make a comeback. Lil Smith is his loyal moll, a tart with a heart of gold, who longs for respectability and keeps a marriage licence ready for her lucky day. Fred's shpieler (gambling den) provides a refuge for the failures of the underworld: Paddy the gambler, Tosher the ponce with his girls Betty and Rosey, and Redhot, a sad little burglar who never manages to get warm. They all look to Fred for a living and when he wins on the horses it seems the gang may be back in business. Fred redecorates his place, all "contempery" and at the opening the Horrible Percey Fortesque comes to gamble and a rival leader, Meatface, is beaten in a razor fight. The play ends with a wedding - Lil and Fred are giving up crime to go straight; handing over the shpieler to the constable on the beat who has long wanted to go crooked!

Quelques commentaires

The author admits that the final published version of Fings owes much to the improvisation that took place during rehearsals by the Theatre Workshop Company who originally staged it. It was conceived as a straight play with music rather than a musical play; but it does provide opportunities for extras and for some lively ensembles. The music is all in unison and the play is therefore specially suited to the dramatic society looking for a musical show.

 

Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

Fart of a new wave of British musicals (Expresso Bongo, The Crooked Mile) dealing with the more sordid aspects of London life, Fings Ain't Wot They Used t'Be was celebrated for its realistic depiction of such Soho institutions as brasses (prostitutes), ponces (pimps), and spielers (gambling dens). Author Frank Norman, a former member of Soho’s underworld, originally wrote the story as a play without music and sent the first draft to Joan Littlewood of the Theatre Workshop. Miss Littlewood then called in Lionel Bart, who had previously written only lyrics, and the three turned it into a musical. It was first presented at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, Feb. 17, 1959, with the cast improvising much of the dialogue and situations. Its Guys-and-Dollsish story is concerned with Fred Cochran, who runs a grubby spieler, and his ambition to become a bigshot again. After winning a huge bet on a horse race, Fred has his place redecorated, but the opening-night party is ruined when Fred is beaten up for failing to pay off the police. Eventually he marries his longtime girlfriend, Lily. During run, Glynn Edwards was succeeded by Bryan Pringle, James Booth by Maurice Kaufmann.

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

Prologue
Proceding in a Westerly Direction
G'Night Dearie
Fings Ain't Wot They Used t'Be
Laying Abaht
Where It's Hot
Ceilin's Comin' Dahn, The
Contempery
Cochran Will Return
Polka Dots
Meatface
Where Do Little Birds Go?
Big Time
Carve Up!
Cop a Bit of Pride
Student Ponce, The
Place in the Old Country, A

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