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Glamorous Night

Donald Macleod explores how Novello's first hit musical, Glamorous Night, saved the Drury Lane Theatre in London. Including Give Me Back My Heart, Glamorous Night (excerpts).

Ivor Novello's first hit musical Glamorous Night saves the Drury Lane Theatre. Presented by Donald Macleod.

Ivor Novello's Drury Lane musicals were box-office sensations, and more popular than the likes of Oklahoma or Brigadoon. At the height of his career Novello not only had plays and musicals running in London, but also four other productions of his spectacular musicals touring the country, to say nothing of amateur productions as well. Part of the attraction was Novello himself. He was a huge celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic. Novello was an actor and playwright for both stage and screen, credited with coining the phrase Me Tarzan, You Jane, and with his matinee-idol looks he was hailed as the next Valentino. His charisma and infectious personality charmed many, so that when he died, thousands turned out to line the streets to see the hearse pass on its way. This week, a first for Composer of the Week in its over seventy-year history, Donald Macleod luxuriates in the theatrical and charismatic world of Ivor Novello, with many works specially recorded for the series. He's joined by one of Novello's biographers, David Slattery-Christy, and also explores what was once Novello's flat with Billy Differ. Donald also goes behind the scenes in Novello's London theatre-world accompanied by Rosy Runciman, with a trip to the Prince of Wales and Novello Theatres.

The Truth Game was the first play Ivor Novello wrote himself. He soon followed this up with Symphony in Two Flats in 1929. Both plays did very well in the UK, so Novello took them to Broadway where The Truth Game in particular was a success. Whilst in America he was offered an opportunity to work as a screenwriter in Hollywood, where he socialised with the likes of Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo. He also worked on the first Tarzan film and penned the immortal lines "Me Tarzan, You Jane". Novello wasn't happy in Hollywood and soon returned to the UK, where he continued to develop his career on many fronts. In 1935 came the opportunity to write his first musical, Glamorous Night. The Drury Lane Theatre was looking for a show to save it from financial ruin and Novello obliged. Glamorous Night became a huge hit - a visual and audio extravaganza with a cast of 120 and, in one act, the spectacle of the sinking of a full-scale ocean liner.

Tabs - Something Doing Over the Way
Joan Sterndale Bennett, voice
Robert Docker, piano

Ivor Novello and Philip Braham, arr. Leonard Hornsey
A to Z, orchestral medley
BBC Concert Orchestra
Keith Lockhart, conductor

The House That Jack Built - The Thought Never Entered My Head
Winnie Melville, soprano
Derek Oldham, tenor
New Mayfair Orchestra
Ray Noble, conductor

Give Me Back My Heart
Peggy Wood, voice
New Mayfair Orchestra
Ray Noble, conductor

Glamorous Night - Her Majesty Militza
BBC Concert Orchestra Chorus
BBC Concert Orchestra
Marcus Dods, conductor

Glamorous Night - When the Gypsy Played
Marilyn Hill Smith, soprano
The Chandos Concert Orchestra
Stuart Barry, conductor

Glamorous Night - Glamorous Night
Marilyn Hill Smith, soprano
The Chandos Concert Orchestra
Stuart Barry, conductor

Glamorous Night - The Girl I Knew
Elizabeth Welch, voice
Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra
Charles Prentice, conductor

Producer Luke Whitlock.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Joan Sterndale Bennett

    Tabs - Something doing over the way

  • Winnie Melville

    The House that Jack Built

    • NAXOS : 8120600.
    • NAXOS.
    • 5.
  • Peggy Wood

    Give me back my heart

    • NAXOS : 8120600.
    • NAXOS.
    • 6.
  • Ivor Novello

    Glamorous Night - Her Majesty Militza

    Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Marcus Dods.
    • Columbia:TWO243.
    • Columbia.
    • 1.
  • Ivor Novello

    Glamorous Night - When the Gypsy played

    Singer: Marilyn Hill Smith. Orchestra: Chandos Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Stuart Barry.
    • Chandos: CHAN9142.
    • Chandos.
    • 6.
  • Ivor Novello

    Glamorous Night (extract)

    Singer: Marilyn Hill Smith. Orchestra: Chandos Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Stuart Barry.
    • Chandos: CHAN9142.
    • Chandos.
    • 19.
  • Ivor Novello

    Glamorous Night - The Girl I Knew

    Singer: Elisabeth Welch. Orchestra: Drury Lane Theatre Orchestra. Conductor: Charles Prentice.
    • Flapper: PASTCD7060.
    • Flapper.
    • 7.

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