Conversation Piece

Coward says in his introduction to Play Parade Volume II:
"Conversation Piece was conceived, written and composed as a vehicle for Yvonne Printemps, and as such I must proudly say it was a success. She being a fine actress in addition to having one of the lovliest voices it has ever been my privilige to hear, endowed the play with a special magic and, in spite of the fact that her English began and ended with 'Good Morning', 'Yes', and 'No' she contrived to enchant the public, the critics, the supporting cast, the orchestra and even the stage hands. It is alos an undoubted tribute to her that, by the end of the London and New York run s, most of the company spoke French fluently."

Conversation Piece was revived, in 1957, but only for 8 off-Broadway performances, starring Louise Troy and Joan Copeland. The musical director was John Kander and the orchestrator, Peter Matz. There has only been one major radio broadcast in1936 (CBS, New York) with Lily Pons, Adolphe Menjou and George Sanders. In New York in 1951 Conversation Piece was recorded as a boxed set of LPs featuring Noël himself, Lily Pons and Richard Burton with Lehman Engel conducting.

  • Synopsis
  • Musical Numbers
  • Recordings
  • Reviews
  • Cast

Conversation PieceConversation Piece

The play is set amidst the brittle sophistications of Regency Brighton, 1811.

Paul, Duc de Chaucigny-Varennes, has arrived in Brighton as a landless emigre from the terrors of the French Revolution. With him is Melanie, a beautiful young girl he passes off as his ward and the daughter of a murdered friend, the Marquis de Tramont; although we learn early on that she is a dance hall singer.

Their purpose is to marry Melanie to a rich husband and she quickly attracts the attention of Edward, the young Marquis of Sheere, who asks for her hand.

With the help of Lady Julia Charteris, who secretly loves Paul, Edward presses his claims, only to discover that Melanie herself has also all along secretly loved Paul. Lady Julia proposes marriage to Paul and with it the comforts of her fortune.

Melanie, desperate to win him for herself, declares her love but only succeeds in plunging him into consternation. In the hope that she can shock him into understanding how close they have become, Melanie feigns a departure for France, leaving no forwarding address.

The ploy works and they at last come together.


Brighton Parade
Danser, Danser
I'll Follow My Secret Heart
There's Always Something Fishy About the French
Regency Rakes
Dear Little Soldiers
The English Lesson
Lady Julia's Theme
Melanie's Aria

Conversation piece


Conversation Piece















Paul, Duc de Chaucigny-Varennes
Melanie, his protegée
Rose, Melanie's maid
Edward, Marquis of Sheere, Melanie's suitor
The Duchess of Benedon, Edward's mother
The Duke of Benedon, Edward's father
Lady Julia Charteris, Paul's friend

Ladies, Gentlemen, Courtesans, Maids, Soldiers

Opening - Home - Welcome - Musicals - Music - Lyrics - Site Index - Links