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London Calling

In 1922 André Charlot received a call from the 3rd Earl of Lathom (Ned Lathom ) inviting him to Davos in Switzerland, (later in his memoirsLondon calling Noël claimed that Ned 'commanded' Charlot's presence). Ned, who was slowly dying of TB, was hosting a winter party of theatrical guests and Noël had joined them for the Christmas festivities. Ned was a true Edwardian dilettante placing his huge inherited fortune at risk through investment in numerous theatre enterprises and by his renowned generosity to theatre practitioners. Noël, who knew Charlot, had failed to impress on earlier meetings but ". . . in the hotel's ballroom late one evening, Noël played and sang 'Parisian Pierrot' and other songs for the first time in public. This was pleasing to Charlot who tried never to put a song in any show unless he had heard it performed by its composer.

He later wrote that Coward had, "persuaded me of his greatness." He was not quite so effusive about Coward's sketches - which he did not allow the author to read to him. Reading them over in his room, he quite liked the "telephone sketch'" (this was later 'Early Mourning', a tour de force performed by Gertrude Lawrence) but thought the rest, "stank to high heaven." What hapopened the day after Coward's audition is recalled quite differently by its major players. Charlot claimed that he wanted to use some of his material but added a suggestion that Noël do what Cohan did (George M Cohan the great US musical theatre performer, "the man who owned Broadway") - write, produce and star in a whole show of his own.

Here wrote Charlot later, "Coward revealed his lack of confidence - no use arguing, he must have some help." So according to Charlot, it was Coqward's idea to collaborate. Coward eventually contradicted this interpretation. he recalled that Charlot was "expansive and benign'" and that a "series of cigar-laden conferences" followed. He worked on the sketches in the morning and submitted them to Lathom and Charlot in the afternoons. In the end for whatever reason, Ronald Jeans was invited to join Coward in writing the show."
Extract from 'André Charlot - The Genius of Intimate Revue' by James Ross Moore (ISBN 0-7864-1774-9)

Noël was just 22 years of age! The show was a huge hit that involved his childhood friend Gertrude Lawrence and called upon the choreographic skills of Fred Astaire. Despite the large amount of box office receipts, Ned lost a lot of money on the show - largely due to his obsessive and expansive spending - even to the point of dressing the chorus in Molyneux-designed dresses.

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London Calling

Part 1: Breaking it Gently; Great Expectations; Tamarisk Town; Devon; The Ministering Angel; Other Girls; Rain Before Seven; When My Ship Comes Home; The Old Lady Shows Her Muddle; Carrie Was A Careful Girl; Little Baggy Maggy.

Part 2: There's Life In The Old Girl Yet; Early Mourning; London Calling; Love's labour; You Were Meant For Me; The Swiss Family Whittlebot; Sentiment; Parisian Pierrot; An Atmospheric Drama; What Love Menas; Follow A Star.

Musical Numbers: Carrie; Other Girls; Parisian Pierrot; Prenez Garde, Lisette; Russian Blues; Sentiment (music by Braham); Tamarisk Town; There’s Life In The Old Girl Yet; What Love Means to Girls Like Me; When My Ship Comes Home; You Were Meant For Me (by Sissle & Blake).

There's Life in the Old Girl Yet (Maisie Gay, accompanied by the Phoenix Theatre Orchestra. cond. Philip Braham; 25 March 1924)

What Love Means to Girls Like Me (Maisie Gay, accompanied by the Phoenix Theatre Orchestra. cond. Philip Braham; 25 March 1924)

Carrie (Gertrude Lawrence, pno. acc. by R. H. Bowers; New York, 17 Nov. 1925)

Parisian Pierrot (Gertrude Lawrence, acc. Claude Ivy & Chenil Orch., 3 Nov 1931)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original cast were:

Noël Coward, Gertrude Lawrence, Eileen Molyneux, Arthur Lowrie, Tubby Edlin, Maisie Gay, Billy Fry, Jill Williams, Tony Williams, Winifred Satchell, Sybil Wise, April Harmon, Childs Brothers (Leonard Childs, William Childs), Dolores Sisters, Betty Nicholas, Wyn Clare and Chorus.

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