September 9, 1989 |
"A Talent to Amuse" was how Noel Coward described his specialty. It's also the title of a new Coward revue at the Back Alley Theatre. Using two men and one woman to sing Coward isn't a particularly novel idea. In fact, it's the same format that was followed by Roderick Cook's "Oh, Coward!," which was a hit in the '70s. However, "A Talent to Amuse" isn't just a Coward revue. It's subtitled "A Musical Portrait of Noel Coward With a Few Sketches by Cole Porter."
June 29, 1997
Paul Dean's "The Perfect Martini Is All in the Way You Spin the Yarn" (June 23) was a delightful feature. After taking note of all his references to British gins and British personalities, however, I remember that on my visits to London, I never succeeded in getting a martini of any kind when ordering one. Invariably, what I got was a glass of Martini & Rossi vermouth sans ice. Sometimes the barkeep asked, "Sweet or dry?" This caused me to conclude that martinis are perhaps exclusively American after all, although the name hardly originated in the USA. Dean's references to London's Savoy, Alfred Dunhill & Co., the Duke of Devonshire and Noel Coward raise even more questions about its hoary origin.
April 19, 1993 |
The opening night performance of GroveShakespeare's "Private Lives" was a little unsure of itself. But there was nothing at all unassured about Noel Coward's delicious, quick-witted comedy, which still has the stage legs of an insouciant chorus girl in spite of its 60 years before the footlights. Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne are still the most elegant and care-free combatants ever to be pitted against each other in the ageless battle of the sexes.
March 17, 2003 |
In 1967, Noel Coward showed his script for "Star Quality" to a producer friend, who was "highly amused by it personally but thought it too esoteric for the great public," Coward wrote. "He was rather flummoxed when I entirely agreed with him." When Coward died in 1973, the script remained unproduced. Now, "Star Quality" is finally emerging on an American stage, at Pasadena Playhouse, in an adaptation by Christopher Luscombe that was presented in 2001 in London.
January 18, 1991 |
The outbreak of war in the Persian Gulf Wednesday kept few people away from the final preview of "The Vortex" at the Doolittle Theatre in Hollywood. This early Noel Coward play about the decadence of the British leisure class in the 1920s might seem like a strange draw away from the real-life drama of bombs bursting over Baghdad. But the contrast itself may have been the thing that brought the people in--a kind of respite from CNN.
April 20, 1995 |
Like all playwrights, Noel Coward went through a fallow period, his being the early 1950s, when most critics were bemoaning the fact that the Master was finished. Their "brittle" and "thin" Coward was trying too hard. "Relative Values," one of the plays of that period, is a good example of a master of high comedy gone awry. This production at Long Beach Playhouse, under Darlene Hunter-Chaffee, tries its best to make the play work.
April 13, 2005 |
"A revue formula with a mere thread of story," is how Noel Coward described "Sail Away," his 1961 cruise-ship musical. On Monday night, Musical Theatre Guild presented this rarity, the show that cemented Elaine Stritch's stardom, in a concert staging at the Alex Theatre in Glendale Expertly steered by director Michael Michetti and choreographer Lee Martino, "Sail Away" has dotty charm. Purser Joe (Eric Anderson) rattles off the eccentric passengers who board through a row of deck chairs.
December 4, 1994
After reading Betty Fussell's "The Survival Isles" (Traveling in Style magazine, Oct. 16), I have this observation to make: Anyone who can even think about chocolate cake while in paradise shouldn't even be allowed to travel, let alone write about it! My husband and I consider our 1992 trip to the Galapagos Islands one of the highlights of our very adventurous lives! The elegance of black iguanas (Ugly? We found them magnificent!) against a white coral beach, the awesome wing line of diving boobies, the innocence of the sea lion pups, a splash of color from a Sally Lightfoot against a lava rock, the deliberate stance and pink glow of flamingos, the solitary but curious penguins . . . we could go on and on. And the mangrove swamps . . . it just don't get any better.