Noël Coward! Or, strictly speaking, Sir Noël Coward! The quintessential Englishman, urbane, sophisticated, patriotic, personal friend of royalty and wickedly satirical. With a career spanning six decades, Coward came to represent in one person completely English entertainment. As an actor he gave great stage and film performances, but it is his writing for which his great legacy to the British (and international) stage gives him immortality. Writing for the musical stage, his works include Bitter Sweet and Cavalcade, while his plays are the stuff of legend, with Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever and Present Laughter never off stage somewhere in the world today.
But it is for his songs, some from his stage musicals and others written as a one-off, that he is remembered by an even wider audience. Who can forget Mad Dogs and Englishmen (a Coward signature song) or his great World War II composition London Pride? Which are only two amongst an incredible output. In praise of Coward’s versatility, Lord Mountbatten said, in a tribute on Coward’s seventieth birthday, “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 artists, greater TV stars. If there are, they are fourteen different people. Only one man combined all fourteen different labels – The Master.”
His songs have occasioned other compilations, but it is with great pride that ARK Enterprises has commissioned a new look at his writing. With an orchestral accompaniment and a cast of the best six performers we can find, “Cowardice” will premiere in London late 2014.