A 183rd GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
In this Garland we concentrate on more "singletons" on the British musical stage. One of the most important of these will oíthe wisp figures is Robb Stewart, whose "melodrama in ragtime" Chrysanthemum surfaced in 1956 when it created little stir. Revived in Manchester in 1958, its colourful, tuneful music (the hit songs included "How Can I Find My Love", "Love is a Game", "Mary Ann", "No More Long Songs", "Saturday Night", Ships at Sea" and "Thanks to the Weather") was praised and the show went on to manage 148 performances in Londonís West End. The songs achieved publication.
The following names (and shows) made less of a splash: Regnell Wreford, The Bells, which was briefly staged at the Irving Theatre in 1955; Ronald Settle, who provided the music for the "musical biography" (by Willard Stoker), I remember, I remember at Liverpool Playhouse in 1960; the conductor Neville McGrah, whose Thieves' Carnival was put on in Cheltenham in 1961; Norman Bennett, a member of the Birmingham Rep, where his Mr Universe was staged, also during 1961; and conductor/composer Simon Lowe, who provided songs for Alice! (yes, this was Lewis Carrollís 'Alice') in 1980.
Now for two women, Marion Hart wrote book, lyrics and music for Gentlemenís Pastime which had a brief run in London in 1955. And Elizabeth Quinnís musical Fancy Free was heard in Belfast in 1963.
Most successful of all these shows was Our Man Crichton, based on J. M. Barrieís play The Admirable Crichton, which ran for 208 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1964 but this seemingly satisfactory result was apparently due, not so much to its music, which was by the musical director David Lee and which was described by The Stage as "no more than brashly workmanlike", as to the presence in the cast of Millicent Martin, a cult figure of the time and, his only appearance in a musical, Kenneth More, still remembered for his appearances in many popular films, the incidental music for which (e.g. Bruce Montgomeryís for Doctor in the House, Clifton Parkerís for Sink the Bismark!, Larry Adlerís for Genevieve and John Addisonís for Reach For the Sky) is itself a roll call of honour.
Philip L Scowcroft
Enquiries to Philip at
8 Rowan Mount
S YORKS DN2 5PJ
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is currently out of print.
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