'Noel and Gertie' an
entertainment devised by Sheridan Morley with words and music by
Directed by: Richard Parish
Musical Direction by: Gill Parish
Choreography by: Sandra Donoghue
Design by: Michael Clements
Lighting by: Alex Lyon
Cast: David Webb, Alison Brooks and John Reed (Pianist)
For a direct link to the GALLERY of PHOTOGRAPHS of this
production CLICK: Noel and
This sparkling entertainment, which has played to great acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic since its first production in 1985, was toured by Lighted Fools to three venues in July 2003, the Riverhouse barn, Walton-on-Thames, Elmbridge Village and Cranleigh Arts Centre.
'Noel and Gertie' is a light, sophisticated entertainment
inwhich songs and extracts from Coward's plays, together with
beautifully chosen linking material taken from the letters and
the like, weave a complex portrait of the relationship between
the 'Master' and Gertrude Lawrence which seems like a real-life
REVIEW OF 'NOEL AND GERTIE' AT RIVERHOUSE, WALTON-ON-THAMES
BY COLIN DOLLEY (G.O.D.A.)
The atmospheric Riverhouse Barn at Walton made an ideal setting for the opening performance of the Lighted Fools Theatre Company's production of NOEL AND GERTIE, an entertainment based on the relationship between those glittering theatrical stars Mr Coward and Ms Lawrence. The intimacy of the setting allowed close contact between the two artistes and the audience; the average age of which suggests they may well have seen the eponymous real players on stage. In spite of some lighting problems, Richard Parish's production moved with ease and pace through the fifty years of their strange relationship, which is told through narrative and Coward's telling words and music. But as with most theatrical compilations some items worked better than others. If some of the songs lacked that very special style in the verbal and musical expertise of their delivery, the play extracts were much more successful. Particularly impressive were the excerpts from Still Life and Red Peppers which showed the versatility of the players and the breadth of Coward's writing. Less successful were the songs which did not quite capture the sheer electrifying magic of the Gertrude Lawrence performance. Elegantly attired, Alison Brooks seemed to be straining in an over-mannered performance in the first half. After the interval and the better play extracts she displayed some of the essential qualities demanded by the role. As dear Noel, David Webb did not attempt an exact imitation of Coward' s unique delivery; but he made the part his own. His plea for Mrs Worthington not to put her daughter on the stage was sung with increasingly manic desperation and proved one of the highlights of the evening. Above all, he showed some of the humanity and emotional depth of the role whereas Gertrude remained superficial and self-regarding in performance missing some of the simple honesty of feeling in such songs as If Love Were All. But accepting the script as an opportunity to dip into the extensive Coward repertoire, then this made a pleasant entertainment for a summer evening reinforcing The Master's reputation for a talent to amuse.
Thank you for a first class evening in the theatre with 'Noel and Gertie'. What a joy it was to hear every word - even in those difficult fast lyrics. Our congratulations to you all!