Noel Coward had a talent to amuse. He was described by the theatrical profession as The Master.
Lord Louis Mountbatten on Noel Coward’s 70th birthday tribute said this: ‘There are probably greater painters than Noël, greater novelists than Noël, greater librettists, greater composers of music, greater singers, greater dancers, greater comedians, greater tragedians, greater stage producers, greater film directors, greater cabaret stars, greater TV stars. If there are, they are 14 different people. Only one man combined all 14 labels – The Master.’
The Noël Coward Foundation has mounted A Marvellous Party, a transatlantic, star-studded collection of performances celebrating the continuing legacy of Noël Coward and coinciding with the 100th anniversary of his West End debut as a 19-year-old playwright.
The actors include Kate Burton, Judi Dench, Stephen Fry, Montego Glover, Derek Jacobi, Josh James, Cush Jumbo, Robert Lindsay, Kristine Nielsen, Bebe Neuwirth, Julian Ovenden, Patricia Routledge, Kate Royal, Emma Thompson, Giles Terera, Indira Varma and Lia Williams.
All the performers have either self-recorded at home or been filmed on location under COVID-19 regulations.
The celebration features words and music by Noël Coward. There are photographs and home movies.
Stephen Fry speaks not sings Mrs Wentworth Brewster. Robert Lindsay offers Coward bon mots. Kate Royal and Julian Ovenden sing A Room with A View. Bebe Neuwirth wonders why the wrong people travel.
Josh James and Lia Williams act a scene from The Vortex (his first big success). Cush Jumbo decides she has to go out and be social. Emma Thompson tells the story of Mrs Mallory.
High spots: Derek Jacobi remembers Coward’s early career in Boy Actor. Indira Varma, very funny, acts the sort of woman who would corner Coward on a social occasion in Social Grace. Patricia Routledge goes to a marvellous party and has a ball
A Marvellous Party utilises Broadway on Demand’s new digital venue, Stream Theatre and will also be presented on the official Noël Coward YouTube channel.
Funds raised via A Marvellous Party will provide support to theatre workers on both sides of the Atlantic affected by the pandemic and will benefit Acting For Others (UK) and The Actors Fund (USA).
To donate to ACTING FOR OTHERS please click here.
To donate to THE ACTORS FUND please click here.