Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence formed a legendary on and off stage partnership. They looked rich, they were elegant; they sang, they danced, they made jokes through clenched cigarette holders. They were impeccable.
Noël Coward had a polished witticism for every occasion. To many he is known as a playwright, creating such classics as Private Lives, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit and Hay Fever, and to others as the composer of timeless songs such as Mad About the Boy, I’ll See You Again, and Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
His range was extraordinary, extending from the bawdy to the sublime, from the witty to the achingly heartfelt and, once heard, many of his melodies are never forgotten. He was also an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, novelist, poet, cabaret artist, a skilful celebrity and a warm and enduring friend.
Gertrude Lawrence was a celebrated actress who triumphed on stage in the world premiere productions of Lady in the Dark and The King and I. Together, they formed a remarkable team and their friendship became show business legend.
Noël and Gertie is an entertainment crafted from diaries and letters between Coward and Lawrence and features songs, sketches and scenes from his best loved works, reminding the audience that Coward’s talent wasn’t simply to amuse but also to hold a mirror up to the frailty of the human condition.
James Millar, a writer himself (The Hatpin, Lovebites: A Song Cycle, A Little Touch of Chaos) as well as actor (Grey Gardens, Oklahoma, Jerry Springer: The Opera) returns from London to play Noël Coward and is joined by Lucy Maunder (Dr Zhivago, The Rocky Horror Show, Jekyll and Hyde) as Gertrude Lawrence. Directed by showbiz legend Nancye Hayes, they take a contemporary look at two of the 20th century’s greatest stage personalities and the era they helped to define.
Noël and Gertie is an entertainment devised by Sheridan Morley with the words and music of Noël Coward that are strangely familiar and surprisingly touching.
Noël and Gertie is currently playing at the Glen Street Theatre through to Saturday 1 June, before embarking on a tour to selected venues. For more information and tour dates, visit: www.cdp.com.au/noelandgertie.html for details.