Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités


Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

The show opened in London at the Adelphi Theatre on 16 September 1932, after a Manchester Opera House tryout in August 1932. It consisted of a series of sketches, some with songs, and starred Ivy St. Helier, Joyce Barbour, John Mills, Romney Brent, and Doris Hare and, in a small part, Graham Payn. It ran for 164 performances, short of the two years Coward had expected, closing on 4 February 1933.

The Manchester Guardian wrote of the show: "Mr. Coward has never sharpened his quill to better purpose than here. In many of the numbers his neatly polished libretto has more than mere verbal ingenuity, and his musical score, though by this time its conventions are familiar, shows a wide and diverting range both in parody and in construction... an acid Anglo-Indian scene with a chorus of sahibs declaiming that 'no matter how much we sozzle and souse, the sun never sets upon Government House', leads to a swinging mock-heroic number with the refrain 'But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun' that has a true Gilbertian flavour."

The Times wrote, "Mr. Coward has the gift of attack... he had the audience cheering before the opening chorus was spent.... Mr. Coward has, above all else, the gift of satire, and this revue, being primarily satirical, is his best work in the musical kind... the active fierceness which is the distinction between genuine satire and empty sneering." The paper thought "Something to do with Spring" the only failure in the show, praised "Mad About the Boy", "Midnight Matinée" and the parodies of Casanova and Journey's End, and was undecided about "Let's Say Goodbye." It praised the performances of St Helier, Brent, Hare, Barbour, Steffi Duna and Nora Howard. The Daily Mirror commented, Words and Music "bears the stamp of genius.... 'Mad Dogs and Englishmen' is another song that goes with such snap and sparkle that it is bound to be heard wherever there are gramophones and pianos.... Words and Music has nothing in common with the average revue. Mr Coward, indeed, lifts it far above the ordinary".

Coward later said of the show, "Words and Music was almost a very good revue, but it wasn't quite. I've never quite made up my mind why. It could possibly have been my fault. But it wasn't entirely. It had no great big star in it, though there was a wonderful cast."

The show was revised and opened on Broadway in 1939 with the title "Set to Music".



Liste des chansons

Maggie (opening chorus)
Let's Live Dangerously
Children of the Ritz
Mad Dogs and Englishmen
Planters' Wives
Let's Say Good-bye
The Hall of Fame
Mad About the Boy
Journey's End
Housemaids' Knees
Three White Feathers
Description of Ballets
Something to Do With Spring
The Wife of an Acrobat
The Younger Generation
Midnight Matinée
The Party's Over Now

The Noël Coward Society's website, drawing on performing statistics from the publishers and the Performing Rights Society, names "Mad About the Boy" as Coward's most popular song. "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" is also among the top ten most performed Coward songs. "The Party's Over Now" ranks in the top thirty of Coward songs.

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Words and Music (1932-09-Adelphi Theatre-London)

Qualité: *** Intérêt: *****
Anglais Durée: 00:08:14


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