Musical theatre

Plays

The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See …

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Owl and the Pussycat want to get married – but they’re in the middle of the sea! They reach the land where the Bong Trees grow, and alight to find a vicar and a ring. Over the course of their seach, they meet a whole host of characters, including the Dong with the Luminous Nose, who has lost his Jumbly girl at sea, the lively Quangle Wangle, the timid Runcible Spoon, the eccentric Professor Bosh, the grumpy Pig and the absent-minded Turkey. Will the Owl and the Pussycat have their dream wedding with their new friends before they all get gobbled up by the Plum Pudding Flea?

Based on the nonsense verse of Edward Lear, David Wood and Sheila Ruskin’s pantomime, The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See . . . , was first produced at the Swan Theatre, Worcester in 1968, before transferring to the Jeanetta Cochrane Theatre, London the following year, with David Wood as director.

audio Pericles: Prince of Tyre

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This musical audio adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless tale opens when our hero is at the palace of Antioch with King Antiochus to solve the riddle that will win the King’s daughter’s hand in marriage. They are surrounded by the heads of men who have died trying before him. Pericles solves the riddle, learning the terrible truth about the incestuous relationship between the Princess and the King. Pericles flees Antioch, fearing Antiochus’ wrath.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Akuyoe, Phyllis Applegate, Patti Austin, David Downing, Judyanne Elder, Bennet Guillory, Rif Hutton, Bob Devin Jones, Ted Lange, Eugene Lee, Carl Lumbly, Don Reed, Michele Lamar Richards, Don Willis

Singers: Mary Bond Davis, Edie Lehmann and Raymond Patterson.

Featuring: Akuyoe, Phyllis Applegate, Patti Austin, David Downing, Judyanne Elder, Bennet Guillory, Rif Hutton, Bob Devin Jones, Ted Lange, Eugene Lee, Carl Lumbly, Don Reed, Michele Lamar Richards, Don Willis. Singers: Mary Bond Davis, Edie Lehmann, Raymond Patterson

Playing from the Heart

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Commissioned by Polka Theatre and nominated for TMA's Best Children's Play award, this is a poetic yet gritty piece exploring the trials of the young Evelyn Glennie to become a percussionist despite her profound deafness. It provides an opportunity for movement, music and text to be combined in performance. For eight years and over.

The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Insect Committee won’t take any notice of complaints against the Big Ones’ using insect spray to clear Slug, Greenfly and Maggot off their garden plants, so the injured parties decide it’s time to take the matter into their own hands. The plotters down in Cabbage Patch Corner plan to ruin the garden for the Big Ones, by eating all the vegetation and capturing the other insects. Glow Worm, Ladybird, Bumblebee, Red Admiral and Ant must work together to break free of their trap and stop the plotters from wrecking the garden before they all lose their homes. Can their community reunite before it’s too late?

A lively show of song and dance, The Plotters of Cabbage Patch Corner was first produced for the Christmas season at the Swan Theatre, Worcester in 1970, before transferring to the Shaw Theatre, London the following year.

'Red Peppers'

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A lovingly cynical tribute to the music hall, ’Red Peppers’ features a performing couple whose onstage choreography and off-stage marriage leave something to be desired.

Lily and George are still doing the same venerable routine of lamely comic songs and hackneyed patter that George’s parents were doing before them, and as they change out of their sailor costumes after a disastrous performance, they snap and scrap in a comic but sympathetic picture of variety show life.

’Red Peppers’ is a short play from Tonight at 8.30, originally starring Gertrude Lawrence and Coward himself, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinees and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

Red Red Shoes

Aurora Metro Books
Type: Text

Commissioned by Unicorn Theatre for Children and The Place, this play is based on Hans Christian Andersen's well-known tale The Red Shoes. It uses dance, music and drama to explore the inner world of a traumatised child fleeing war in Eastern Europe, powerfully dramatising a life and death conflict. For nine years and over.

Save the Human

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In Save the Human, we see a future where human beings, having destroyed their world with war and pollution, have become an inferior species. Now, animals are in charge. Becky Bear and her family even have a pet human, Norman. When Norman is captured by H.A.R.M., the Human Analysis and Research Ministry, Becky launches a campaign to ‘Save the Human’. She gathers more and more support from her fellow animals worldwide in her peaceful protest, but a few of her schoolfriends break away from the campaign and free all the humans being held in the H.A.R.M. labs for testing. As the humans seek revenge, Becky and her friends are left contemplating if humans and animals can ever live together successfully.

Save the Human is based on a story by Tony Husband and David Wood. It was first produced at the Cambridge Arts Theatre in 1990.

Set to Music

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

'A sketch for a revue must be quick, sharp, funny (or sentimental) and to the point, with a good, really good black-out line. Whether the performers are naked or wearing crinolines is quite beside the point; the same rule applies'.

Thus did Noël Coward describe the ingredients for a successful revue sketch; in the 1920s and 1930s he mastered and defined the art of the revue – short and often topical or satirical sketches, many of which were a lead-in to a song. He started producing sketches for some of the most famous revues of the period.

Set to Music was first presented by John C. Wilson at the Music Box Theatre, New York, on 18 January 1936. It ran for 129 performances.

The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie: Ballet

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

In The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petty Bourgeoisie two sisters, both named Annie, make their way from Louisiana to Los Angeles and back, as one sister’s success as a starlet and desired woman (in tandem with her sister’s attendance as manager and guide) are tracked through the seven deadly sins of Sloth, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Lust, Avarice and Envy.

Written in exile in May 1933, a few months after Adolf Hitler had come to power in Germany, it was written when, according to John Willett, ‘Brecht joined Weill in Paris . . . and supplied a libretto which was essentially a cycle of songs for [Lotte] Lenya in the old pseudo-American vein.’

This translation by the poets Chester Kallman and W. H. Auden was first published in 1961.

Shadow Play

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Victoria and Simon’s marriage isn’t going very well, and they’re both trying not to mind. After an anxious evening at the theatre, Victoria takes some sleeping pills to calm herself and drowsily slips into reminiscences. The play trips back into their past of lilting romance and blissful adoration, with an innovative blurring of past and present: a fascinating and infatuated dream.

Shadow Play is a short piece from the Tonight at 8.30 cycle, conceived by Coward as an antidote to the boredom of a long run of the same script. It is a sequence of ten plays to be performed by the same cast in sets of three, alternating matinées and evenings, ranging from farce to melodrama to romantic comedy.

After touring, Tonight at 8.30 was produced at the Phoenix Theatre in London in 1936.

A stage entertainment or film that tells a story using a mixture of dialogue, songs, and dance routines. Probably the single most impressive contribution made by Broadway to the modern theatre, the musical developed from many sources, including vaudeville, revue, melodrama, and operetta.

The first work to combine these influences to create a recognizably new genre was William Wheatley’s spectacular ballet-melodrama The Black Crook, first produced in New York in 1866. George Edwardes’ In Town, produced at his old Gaiety Theatre, London, in 1892, is usually considered the first British musical. Edwardes developed a highly successful formula that involved the use of a sketchy plot as a framework for memorable songs and expensive production numbers featuring attractive chorus girls.

A stage entertainment or film that tells a story using a mixture of dialogue, songs, and dance routines. In the early 20th century US musicals remained heavily indebted to the tradition of European operetta. After World War I, however, a more energetic and sophisticated, but still essentially lightweight, type of show was pioneered by such writers as Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, the Gershwin brothers, and Rodgers and Hart. In 1928 Jerome Kern’s Show Boat gave a new prominence to plot and demonstrated that the musical could encompass more serious themes.

These developments were taken further in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s landmark production Oklahoma! (1943). The same combination of an exciting plot, memorable songs, vigorous professional dancing, and extravagant costumes and sets characterized their subsequent hits Carousel (1945), and South Pacific (1949). The tradition they had established was continued by Lerner and Loewe in international successes such as My Fair Lady (1956) and Camelot (1960). Other hits of the 1950s and 1960s included West Side Story (1957), Hello Dolly! (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964) and Cabaret (1966).

In the late 1960s and 1970s the tradition of the classic Broadway musical appeared to decline. The only important US writer to continue in the genre was Stephen Sondheim, whose sophisticated and idiosyncratic works won critical praise but lacked popular appeal. The main development of this period was the advent of the rock musical, as represented by Hair (1967) and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (1968), and Jesus Christ Superstar. In the 1970s and late 1980s Lloyd Webber led a revival of the large-scale spectacular musical with a series of shows that proved immensely successful on both sides of the Atlantic: these included Evita (1978), Cats (1981), Phantom of the Opera (1986), and Sunset Boulevard (1992). The blockbuster musicals of this era also include the Cameron Mackintosh productions Les Misérables (1985) and Miss Saigon (1987), both by the French team of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg. A more recent trend has been the creation of a stage show from an already familiar corpus of hit songs, as with the hugely successful Abba musical Mamma Mia! (2001), or from a well-loved film, as with Mel Brooks’s The Producers (2004) or Billy Elliot (2005).

from Jonathan Law, ed., The Methuen Drama Dictionary of the Theatre (London, 2011).