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Anyone into Noël Coward?

I've been listening to his stuff for the last few weeks. Still holds up. Very funny.

Here's the great Patricia Routledge at age 92 preforming a song she first did in 1973. Amazing how she remembers all those intricate lyrics.

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by Anonymousreply 47March 22, 2023 6:16 AM

Coward is so amazingly quick here.

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by Anonymousreply 1January 27, 2023 4:45 AM

This number, about a stage mother, is still relevant.

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by Anonymousreply 2January 27, 2023 4:47 AM

[quote] Anyone into Noël Coward?

No, no one is especially on a gay message board that leans toward a demographic old enough to have seen Coward perform on CBS in 1955.

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by Anonymousreply 3January 27, 2023 4:49 AM

God bless you, OP. You and your umlaut.

I mean it!

by Anonymousreply 4January 27, 2023 4:57 AM

Noel himself was very insistent on the umlaut (or diacritic as it would be called in English) and on the distinct pronunciation of the two vowels in his name. (He was born on Christmas Day, hence the name, BTW.)

Yes, I am a huge fan. Two not so well known songs I adore are "Alice is At It Again" and "The Bronxville Darby and Joan", about an elderly married couple who hate each other, which contains one of my favourite couplets from anywhere:

"With our deep subconscious minds we seldom dabble

But something must impel the words we spell when we're playing Scrabble."

There is also I Wonder What Happened to Him?, in which a group of old officers from the Indian Raj recall their glory days from the comfort of their club in London. It isn't that great a song, except for their reminiscence of one gent who "Took to pig-sticking in QUITE the wrong way - I wonder what happened to him?"

by Anonymousreply 5January 27, 2023 5:38 AM

I was balls deep into him.

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by Anonymousreply 6January 27, 2023 5:46 AM

In Frank Langella's auto bio Dropped Names he writes of having a memorable luncheon at Bunny Mellon's ( he was 19yo and dating her daughter) the guest list included JFK,Jackie,Noel Coward and Adele Astaire.

As the afternoon progressed our napkins would grow increasingly damp with tears of laughter as Noel Coward reached into his bottomless hamper of stories, jokes, one-liners, and character assassinations. And the sight of my President pounding on the table with one hand and holding the other out, palm up, to Coward, begging him to wait while he caught his breath, has never left my memory. To see the leader of the free world so hopelessly convulsed with laughter, wiping his eyes continuously, and to watch his wife genuinely delighted to see him so happy, made a profound impression on me. How glorious it must have been for him. Not a single subject of importance discussed all afternoon. No current affairs, political views, or social commentary.Add to that the fact that Coward's stories became increasingly more vulgar with the liberal use of the words cunt and prick,and the beautifully pronounced,in his trademark clipped staccato, cocksucker and motherfucker. Jackie and I ended up sitting on the couch. As Coward took the piano she leaned over to me and in her trademark whisper said "Isn't this fun?"

by Anonymousreply 7January 27, 2023 6:11 AM

Coward's entry in his diary from Nov 24,1963

The most horrible and incredible catastrophe. On Friday President Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas, Texas, by a young man of twenty-four called Oswald apparently. Oswald himself was shot this morning while he was being transferred from one prison to another. The whole country is in a state of deep shock. Mrs Kennedy, who was with the President in the car when he died, has behaved throughout with dignity, grace and magnificent self-control. I watched her today on television accompanying the President's body from the White House to the Capitol and was moved to tears. We are giving a performance tonight as there is to be a day of mourning tomorrow and nothing will be open. It is impossible to evade the general feeling of shock. It seems so desolately wasteful that a virile man in the prime of his life, to whom the whole world was looking for leadership and who, incidentally, was doing a gallant job of it, should be wiped out of life by the action of a zany delinquent with Communist tendencies.

by Anonymousreply 8January 27, 2023 6:15 AM

^ Nolie knew a "virile man" when he saw one.

by Anonymousreply 9January 27, 2023 6:16 AM

As a songwriter oOward was up with Cole Porter before his decline as a master of verbal and rhythmic virtuosity. No-one else came near to something like 'Nina'

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by Anonymousreply 10January 27, 2023 8:10 AM

I went to a marvelous party!

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by Anonymousreply 11February 26, 2023 8:05 PM

Let's fall in love.

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by Anonymousreply 12February 26, 2023 8:07 PM

R7 that is completely wonderful. Thank you for this fine response to my thread!

by Anonymousreply 13February 27, 2023 1:26 AM

Coward was responsible for the immortal quip (when Clifton Webb's beloved mother -with whom he lived- died at 91): "It must be difficult to be orphaned at 70."

He could be a patron saint of Datalounge.

by Anonymousreply 14February 27, 2023 1:40 AM

After seeing the then very daring play The Changing Room in 1971 (first male nudity on the West End stage), he joke-complained: 'I didn't pay £5 to see two acorns and a chipolata'.

by Anonymousreply 15February 27, 2023 10:49 AM

Another Coward quip very appropriate for the DL is this:

He and a companion were walking in central London one evening when they passed a cinema, the billboard of which proclaimed:

Michael Redgrave, Dirk Bogarde

"The Sea Shall Not Have Them".

Coward: "I don't see why not. Everyone else has."

by Anonymousreply 16February 27, 2023 12:33 PM

FALLEN ANGELS is a great play, rarely produced.

by Anonymousreply 17February 27, 2023 12:57 PM

HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and Coward were friends. Lots of lovely stories. Below is a pic of here at Coward's Jamaican home, Firefly.

When she attended a gala with Noel Coward, they passed a line of guards on their way up the stairs. After slyly watching Coward check out the men, she whispered pertly, “I wouldn’t if I were you, Noël; they count them before they put them out”.

A memorial stone was unveiled in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey by the Queen Mother who said: “I came because he was my friend.”

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by Anonymousreply 18February 27, 2023 1:09 PM

The Queen Mother, The Princess Margaret, Noel Coward, Elizabeth Taylor and other famous persons attended the 1951 wedding of Miss Sheran Cazalet, daughter of the Queen Mother’s racehorse trainer, Mr Peter Cazalet, to Mr Simon Hornby.

Pre wedding drinks were served and of course Noel Coward made a bee line....

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by Anonymousreply 19February 27, 2023 1:24 PM

Many Americans and others do not know nor realize that Noel Coward's clipped RP accent was largely self taught.

Mr. Coward not a public school boy but was introduced into high society as a teenager and keen to get on realized that RP was a way to advance that cause. Normally society detests bounders, but Noel Coward's friends in society were more than happy to assist so there you are.

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by Anonymousreply 20February 27, 2023 1:30 PM

Sorry, bad link in previous post.

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by Anonymousreply 21February 27, 2023 1:31 PM

Noel and Gertie were both on the stage by their mid teens, largely in revues, so they had quite little formal education at all. Noel's mother took in lodgers to make ends meet (he did have a father, who did something nondescript), and Gertie's mother appeared to be a professional stage mother. I always assumed they learned their accents from straight theatre actors they encountered early on, but Noel wrote The Vortex at 25 and became the hit of London, so after that he did get to mix in more exalted circles (and of course he and Gertie both dated "up"). When he was 31 he wrote Cavalcade, now almost forgotten but then an enormous hit because it was a wholehearted love letter to England, and that was probably when the gentry really took him to its bosom.

by Anonymousreply 22February 27, 2023 2:19 PM

Julie Andrews and Keith Michell starred in a 1973 Cavalcade.

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by Anonymousreply 23February 27, 2023 2:29 PM

R19 Thank you for posting that. It's beautiful language in the article. I vaguely knew the family. Sherman died a couple of years ago.

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by Anonymousreply 24February 27, 2023 5:42 PM

British television series "Upstairs-Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" are both inspired by Noel Coward's Cavalcade, both stage and film production.

Really is time for someone to do a stage revival of Cavalcade again.

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by Anonymousreply 25March 1, 2023 6:04 AM

Maybe for the Coronation, R25. It's pretty sentimental.

by Anonymousreply 26March 2, 2023 12:50 PM

appears to be a fairly decent stream of Cavalcade on Youtube

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by Anonymousreply 27March 2, 2023 4:10 PM

Very much into Coward, OP. There are several ways to do a deeper dive even if you don't have a theatre nearby that does his works regularly.

If you want to read his plays and other writing, there is the 14 or 15 volume Methuen set, with the maroon spines. They issued their ninth volume of plays a year or two ago, and there's a book of collected verse, of autobiography, of sketches, of screenplays, of short stories, and his novel Pomp and Circumstance. There are also his collected lyrics, musical theatre libretti, letters, and diaries in books that are not part of the Methuen set.

If you want him anthologized and contextualized, some of the recent collections like THE NOEL COWARD READER or NOEL COWARD ON (AND IN) THEATRE will do, or even the very short COWARD IN AN HOUR.

To hear his nightclub act, his New York and Las Vegas LPs are essential. You'll probably fast forward through some of it, but there's also his TV special TOGETHER WITH MUSIC with muff divin' Mary Martin.

There are great BBC radio or audio versions from LA TheatreWorks of all the big plays (sometimes multiple versions). And it's an easy way to get acquainted with works that are meant to be performed even more than they are to be read. There are even audio versions of the lesser known works too: EASY VIRTUE, RELATIVE VALUES, FALLEN ANGELS, NUDE WITH VIOLIN among them. There are so many fun versions of HAY FEVER alone!

Speaking of EASY VIRTUE, you may want to check out the movie version from a few years ago (2008).

Though there's variable quality in the rather large set, it's still worth it overall to get The Noel Coward Collection DVDs. Several TV versions of the big plays, and oddly Joan Collins starring in almost the entirety of TONIGHT AT 8:30, which is one that's hard to find.

LIke the Williams and Christie estates, there's been a real cleaning out of the drawers and file cabinets in recent decades to get everything possible copyrighted and published. Among the newly discovered are LONG ISLAND SOUND, HOME CHAT, and SALUTE TO THE BRAVE. There have also been "new" adaptations like the regionally done STAR QUALITY and the Broadway BRIEF ENCOUNTER, both of which were pretty wonderful.

It feels like Broadway lately is just down to doing PRESENT LAUGHTER (with Kevin Kline), BLITHE SPIRIT (with Angela Lansbury), and PRIVATE LIVES as his most viable plays, but there have been a few more than that. Though I doubt Broadway will ever see DESIGN FOR LIVING or WAITING IN THE WINGS again, as it did in the early 2000s. There was finally a production of THE RAT TRAP at one of the little NYC theatres this year.

And there's this tv version, with DL fave Lauren Bacall, everyone running rings around Claudette Colbert to keep her good side toward the camera--really, it's so awkward--and Coward himself. It's on live television, was originally in color, and Coward himself made the cuts and is the leader in keeping the pace of the play roaring along. Nothing worse than people who play Coward slowly!

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by Anonymousreply 28March 7, 2023 11:24 PM

Patricia Routledge should have got the Queen Mother part in 5 &6 of The Crown. She should do a one woman show of the QM's latter years.

by Anonymousreply 29March 7, 2023 11:27 PM

You have good taste, OP.

by Anonymousreply 30March 7, 2023 11:35 PM

R12 wow. Marion Ross in the era where Happy Days takes place.

by Anonymousreply 31March 8, 2023 11:00 AM

R12 thank you for that. Started it at 4am and kept watching till the end. Fantastic.

by Anonymousreply 32March 8, 2023 12:13 PM

If you want a sense of Noel offstage, Present Laughter is a pretty good portrait, but Cole Lesley's biography The Life of Noel Coward can't be beaten. Lesley was a member of Coward's household for decades. He leaves it up to the reader to determine exactly what that means, though his official title is valet, and where Noel goes, he goes, even during the War. He has complete access to Coward's letters. DLers will especially revel in the constant namedropping, which is frequently accompanied by witty or delightfully drunken things the Names said or did in Noel's presence.

by Anonymousreply 33March 8, 2023 1:48 PM

Noel knew everyone who was anyone. Reading his diaries, I was surprised and disappointed to see how regularly he dispelled cruel remarks toward Vivien Leigh, who was supposedly one of his closest friends. One of my favorite of his friendships was with Elaine Stritch: I love that he wrote a part expressly for her in Sail Away, and made her the star when the original actress' performance disappointed him in tryouts. Elaine has so many wonderful Noel anecdotes which I'm sure are well known around these parts and if not, are easy to find on YouTube. This is one of my favorite diary entries of his, from the late 40s or early 50s:

"Tennessee Williams and Gore Vidal came to dinner. Gore Vidal intelligent and charming, Tennessee less charming but curious. They both gave out a sort of 'end of the world' feeling; they were good company but doomed. I felt sorry for them on account of being happy and emotionally balanced myself."

by Anonymousreply 34March 8, 2023 4:33 PM

Last week, for my friends 60th birthday, I memorized and recited the lyrics to I Went to a Marvelous Party to him. No small task, that! I tried to imitate Noel, rolling Rs and all.

I picked that one because of the final stanza:

went to a marvellous party We played the most wonderful game Maureen disappeared And came back in a beard And we all had to guess at her name We talked about growing old gracefully And Elsie who's seventy-four Said, “A, it's a question of being sincere And be, if you're supple you've noting to fear Then she swung upside down from a glass chandelier I couldn't have liked it more

by Anonymousreply 35March 8, 2023 5:54 PM

Several other guests sought medical care from the eyerolling.

by Anonymousreply 36March 8, 2023 5:58 PM

R36 well aren't you sweet.

by Anonymousreply 37March 8, 2023 6:00 PM

I've wined and dined on mulligan stew

And never wished for turkey

As I hitched and hiked and drifted, too

From Maine to Albuquerque

Alas, I missed the Beaux Arts Ball

And what is twice as sad

I was never at a party where they honored Noel Ca'ad

But social circles spin too fast for me

My hobohemia is the place to be

(if you know, you know!)

by Anonymousreply 38March 8, 2023 11:53 PM

Stephen Sondheim just rolled in his grave.

by Anonymousreply 39March 9, 2023 9:38 AM

There's a memoir by a once-handsome but rather nasty golden boy of 50s NY that mentions how he grew tired of old mavens like Coward "dialing my sphincter." Hopefully not with a pencil!

by Anonymousreply 40March 9, 2023 9:55 AM

Noël was more talented than Cole.

Noël was equal with Cole as a song-writer but he did much more than that— spanning the seven lively arts.

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by Anonymousreply 41March 21, 2023 8:09 AM

Of course I think Coward’s lyrics are great, but his melodies sound fairly generic.

I always liked this one:

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by Anonymousreply 42March 21, 2023 8:27 AM

Very credibly playing the young Captain Mountbatten

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by Anonymousreply 43March 21, 2023 8:54 AM

With whom he was very well acquainted IRL.

by Anonymousreply 44March 21, 2023 1:21 PM

I would say within his lane (composing and writing lyrics) Porter was much more talented than Coward, and the shelf life and breadth of their respective catalogs bears that out. But there's no question Noel Coward was one of the great multi-hyphenates before that word was even used in show business.

by Anonymousreply 45March 21, 2023 9:18 PM

Noël and Cole were both very clever but both of them made too many list songs— which require a minimum of wit.

by Anonymousreply 46March 21, 2023 9:20 PM

The balance between Coward's and Porter's lasting song fame is probably more even in Britain and associated countries than it is in the US, though both are probably best remembered by gay theatre tragics these days.

Can't imagine Millennials or Zs having any use for either of them, though they might like Coward's Mr Bridger because it's ironic. Though I suppose you have to know who he was to get the irony.

by Anonymousreply 47March 22, 2023 6:16 AM
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