15th – 16th November 2002
The Queen Mother Theatre – Hitchin
Born on December 16, 1899, Coward grew up in poverty at a series of South London suburban addresses, and when he was ten his mother answered a newspaper advertisement for child actors. Within three months Noël was on the stage of the Crystal Palace in a play called The Goldfish.
After many Christmases in many shows he settles with his beloved friend Gertrude Lawrence and was, in his own words, ‘one of the worst child actors ever inflicted on the paying public’. Nevertheless he survived and by 1917 was already making his first film appearance in Hearts of the World. After the Army and a couple of forgettable attempts at acting Noël’s ambitions were to be a playwright and songwriter as well as an actor, and by April 1920 he was to reach the West End as both author and leading actor in I’ll Leave It To You. It lasted only 37 performances, but that did not matter, it was sufficient enough to get several magazine profiles and to launch Coward into a remarkable decade.
Throughout just the 1920s he wrote the following; Barriers Down (un-produced), The Young Idea, Sirocco, The Better Half, Bottle and Bones, The Queen Was in the Parlour, Mild Oats, Weatherwise, Fallen Angels, The Vortex, Hay Fever, Easy Virtue, On with the Dance, This Was a Man, Semi Monde, The Marquis, Home Chat and finally, Concerto. To top it all off he had a nervous breakdown while holidaying in Hong Kong and Honolulu.
He went on writing, directing and appearing right up to his death on March 26, 1973 at his home in Blue Harbour, Jamaica.
For more information about Noël Coward, see the official Noël Coward Society website at http://www.noelcoward.net.
The Cast were as follows:
Preston – Mandy Gibbs
Pauncefort Quentin – Keith Turton
Helen Saville – Annalise Carter
Clara Hibbert – Frances Hall
Florence Lancaster – Angela Goss
Tom Veryan – Alan Clarke
Nicky Lancaster – Elliott Lawrence
David Lancaster – Alistair Brown
Bunty Mainwaring – Jo Mills
Bruce Fairlight – Peter Brown
For bigredfunbus | productions
Director – Nicki Pope
Stage Manager – Mandy Gibbs
Properties – The Company
Costumes – Keith Turton
Senior Technician – Tony Wetherman
Music and Sound – Tim Hallas
Treasurer – Ian Wyllie
Artistic Director – Nicki Pope
Marketing Director – Sejal Majithia
Managing Director – Elliott Lawrence