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On With the Dance

Charles B CochranA Charles Cochran (photo left) revue presented first at the Palace Manchester on 17 March 1925 until 11 April that year. It moved to the London pavilion later that month on 30 April and played for 229 performances.

Noël wrote the book and lyrics with music by Noël and Philip Braham who had written additional songs for Noël's first revue London Calling. It was staged by Frank Collins with Leonide Massine providing the choreography and dancing himself in two ballet scenes, The Rake and Crescendo and Hungarian Wedding.

The 22 scenes were filled with a large cast and chorus that took 27 hours to get through the dress-rehearsal in Manchester! Noel says of the revue," ...was lavish to a degree and very good in spots." "Those three days in Manchester were on the whole unpleasant although fraught with incident. In the first place I discovered that  my name was not on the bills at all. The show was labelled 'Charles Cochran's Revue,' which, considering that I had done three-quarters of the score, all the lyrics, all of the book and directed all the dialogue, scenes, and several of the numbers, seemed to be a slight overstatement. i went roaring back from the theatre to the Midland Hotel and attacked Cockie in his bathroom. i am not at all sure I did not deprive him of his towel while I shrieked at him over the noise of the water gurgling down the plug-hole. I will say however that he retained his dignity magnificantly, far more so than I, and in due course calmed me down and gave me some sherry. It is odd that in all of the years I have since worked with Cockie, that show was the only one over which we have ever quarrelled. i think the psychological explanation mnust be that then, in those early days of our association, we had neither of us estimated accurately enough our respective egos. And a couple of tougher ones it would be difficult to find."

Coward was not yet the famous name he would be by the end of1925. The Manchester Guardian review mentioned him only once, and The Times review did not mention him at all!

 

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On With the Dance

Part I:

Scene 1: Café de al Paix, Paris; Scene 2: So In Love; Scene 3: The Club (Empire Theatre 1890, Gaiety Theatre 1888, Moulin Rouge 1888-90); Scene 4: Oranges and Lemons; Scene 5: On With The Dance; Scene 6: Poor Little Rich Girl; Scene 7: 3 a.m.; Scene 8: The Rake; Scene 9: An Episode; Scene 10: First Love; Scene 11: Couldn't We Keep On Dancing (Philip Braham); Scene 12: On With the Dance.

Part II:

Scene 13: Soldier Boys; Scene 14: Fête Galante, A Vicarage Garden Party (Marc Henri); Scene 15: Come a Little Closer; Scene 16: Class; Scene 17:That Means Nothing To Me; Scene 18; Crescendo; Scene 19: The Sterling Saxaphone Four; Scene 20: Travelling Light; Scene 21; The Serpent; Scene 22: A Hungarian Wedding.

Cosmopolitan Lady    

 

I'm So In Love    
Poor Little Rich Girl    
First Love    
Couldn't We Keep On Dancing    
Raspberry Time in Runcorn    
Spinster's Song    
The Vicarage Dance    
Choir Boy's Song    
Even Clergymen Are Naughty Now and Then    
Church Parade    
Come a Little Closer    
 
 

The CD: 'The Songs of Noël Coward' (Flapper PAST CD 7080) has a recording of the star Alice Delysia singing 'Poor Little Rich Girl' accompanied by the London Pavilion Orchestra, conductor J. B. Hastings recorded in the year of the show on 24 June 25)

The finale - 'On With the Dance' has no known music or recording but at the NCMI says

"Known performance, and one assumes that this number had music by NC as the programme credits (mostly very thorough) give no contrary indication. Barry Day believes that it was a sort of combination of Mr Cochran's Young Ladies and the Tiller Girls, and that whatever NC wrote 'would have had to compete with any number of flashing limbs'. The Scene (staged by Marc Henri) was simply titled 'On with the Dance', and lists six dance sections followed by Sybil Wise and the Sterling Saxophone Four, and then 'Finale - The Entire Company'." (NCMI)

 

The  Morning Post (1 May 1925) says: "Mr Charles Cochran's new revue is at once the most decadent and most brilliant thing he has ever done. the whole thing is more than modern, bizarre, grotesque, fantastic, unnatrual. the speed of the change from scene to scene, of the performance of each number, is feverish, burlesquing the speed of opur overheated life. At times the players seem mad, intoxicated with the desire to force their bodies to do something faster, faster."

"As befits Mr. Coward's genius, many of the incidents are as nature seen through a glass crookedly, and when we see some normal little typical revue duet-dance face to face, it seems positively dull - an effort to restore the company to a state of mental balance. Those arid, futile people that Mr. Coeward puts into his plays dash about the stage, worked into afrenzy by the syncopated music."

"M. Massine, who produced the two amazing ballets, 'The Rake', suggested by engravings of Hogarth, and 'Crescendo', an attempt to 'shatter' the gentle tranquility of Les Sylphides by the insistent clamour of modernity - both left one gasping - danced briliantly. His resource is magnificent, his multiplicity of movement astonishing, his accuracy marvellous. But all of course, bizarre, preposterous, in so much that the beautiful stately 'Hungarian Wedding' with which the revue ended almost perished because the contrast was too great. The number at the end of the first part, 'Couldn't We Keep on Dancing?' should be taken as the finale."

More reviews can be found in the 'Theatrical Companion to Coward', A Pictorial Record of the Works of Noël Coward by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Updated by Barry day and Sheridan Morley.

Alice Delysia was the star famed for her singing of 'Poor Little Rich Girl'. Cochran wanted to cut the piece and had to be dissuaded by Coward. As well as Delysia, the cast included Hermione Baddeley, Ernest Thesiger, Nigel Bruce and Douglas Byng and a large chorus.

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