We attempted the impossible by mining the rich seam that is ‘musical entertainment’ from its genesis in the early 1800’s to the present day. With such a large canvas we can do little more than ‘cherry-pick’ from the wealth of music that falls into this category. However, our programme tonight embraced most of the major developments in the genre over two hundred years.
Rogers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin and Lerner and Loewe are notable omissions simply because we have featured their work so often in recent years. By contrast, we enjoyed searching for items from ‘off the beaten track’ having the potential to surprise and delight.
The combination of a excellent lyricist and an inspired composer have ‘oiled the cogs’ of tin-pan-alley and inspire whole generations to ‘make love not war’. Even in war, popular songs (especially those from the music hall and film scores) have sustained our nation through their ‘darkest hours’.
Tonight, in this centenary year, we salute the fallen from the Great War by recalling some classic ‘anthems’ from those war years and invited the audience to sing with us.
- ‘THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT’ –
Our Walk-On-Song – Written by Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz in 1953. From the MGM film ‘The Band Wagon’.
- ‘THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN’- First appeared in 1800 (approx.) as a folk melody with a cautionary tale.
Eric Burdon of the ‘Animals’ had a big hit with this song in 1964. featuring Wendy Rodwell.
- ‘HOME SWEET HOME’– This Barber Shop quintet was composed by Englishman Sir Henry Bishop in 1823. It became popular both here and in the USA for its support for ‘wholesome family values’. Sung by Messrs. Laurie Pegrum, Richard Blandford, Alasdair Gibson, Gavin Laubscher & Phil Angus.
- MUSIC HALL MEDLEY – (i) ‘Daddy wouldn’t buy me a Bow-Wow!’ written in 1892 by the English songwriter Joseph Tabrar. featuring our three dog-lovers: Rachel Mallett, Mary Sullivan & Hilary Morton. (ii) ‘Daisy Bell’ a very big hit in the 1870’s during the early days of steel-chained bicycle development.
- ‘SWEET AND LOW’-
From a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1863) music by Joseph Barnby. A favourite of vocal ‘Glee Clubs’.
- LIGHT OPERETTA – (i) Gilbert and Sullivan wrote the Comic Opera ‘Iolanthe’ in 1882. Peter Wells personally adapted this politically charged Victorian song to include some more contemporary issues. (ii) ‘Three little Maids from School’ – from the ‘Mikado’ (also by G&S 1890) featuring: Josie O’Driscoll and Pam Frith.
- SOLO – ‘I LOVE A LASSIE’- Now on to the 20th century! Harry Lauder achieved top billing in the Music Halls of 1911. Alasdair Gibson sings Harry Lauder’s hit song.
- WORLD WAR I MEDLEY –
(i) ‘There’s a long, long trail’
(ii) ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’
(iii) ‘Keep the home fires burning’
Songs that helped achieve victory in the Great War of 1914-18.
In this centenary year we take this opportunity to salute the many thousands who died in the ’war to end all wars’.
Liz Berry directed our community singing.
- ‘MACK THE KNIFE’ – Composer, Kurt Weill, was a Berlin resident when he composed this 1920 Jazz classic. It tells the ‘gory story’ of a notorious multi-murderer Mack (the knife). Tenor, Laurie Pegrum.
- ‘SHOW BOAT’ MEDLEY –
(i) ‘Can’t help Loving that man’
(ii) ‘Old man River’
Showboat was one of the very first musicals ever to grace Broadway.
Jerome Kern wrote it back in 1927 and its challenging themes of tough love, racism and alcoholism make ‘Showboat’ especially relevant for contemporary audiences. featuring: Pam Frith & Phil Angus.
- ‘ANYTHING GOES’ – In this 1934 lyric, Cole Porter reflects on the decline in social values in which almost ‘Anything Goes!’
- ‘I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT’– The famous band leader, Duke Ellington takes us into the pre-war ‘big band swing era’ of 1944.
- ‘LOVE ME TENDER’– The 1950’s Rock ’n’ Roll destroyed the big bands almost overnight. It heralded ‘hip-wiggling’ songs like ‘Jailhouse Rock’ but Elvis Presley also loved to sing ballads like ‘Love Me Tender’. This song was adapted from the tune of ‘Aura Lee’ a sentimental American Civil War ballad from a century before.
- BEATLES MEDLEY- 1960’s & 70’s
(i) ‘She Loves You!’
(ii) ‘If I Fell’
When the Brit’s invaded the American pop world of the early 1960’s it soon became clear that nothing would ever be the same again…..a new era was born in Liverpool!!
- U.S. DISCO – 1980’s Fans of the musical film ‘Grease’ will all know the hit song that defined an era, ‘Summer Nights’. Tonight we had our own Olivia N-J & John T in Kathleen Gray & Richard Blandford.
- ‘MEMORY’ – Andrew Lloyd Webber burst onto the musical scene with ‘Joseph’ in 1965 and seemed unstoppable into the 1990’s – a truly British phenomenon. Josie O’Driscoll sang the theme song from ‘Cats’.
- ‘THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC’ The Swedish pop group Abba took the musical world by storm in 1974 by winning the Eurovision song contest. Benny and Bjorn penned ‘Thank you for the music’ in 1977 but released it as a single in 1983.
Jo Skelton will entertain you with her version of this great Abba anthem.
- ‘CANDLE IN THE WIND’ Another song originally written and released in 1973 but revisited in 1997 by Elton John’s tribute to his good friend, the people’s princess Lady Diana. Sung tonight by Laurie Pegrum.
- ‘JUST AROUND THE RIVER BEND’…..another princess story……. After the enormous success of ‘The Lion King’ (1994), Disney’s animators turned for inspiration to the life of Pocahontas the American Indian princess. In our arrangement of the beautiful main theme we had solos from: Wendy Rodwell & Laurie Pegrum.
- THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT – reprise.
Our finale was a reprise of Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz which opened our show tonight. To quote a line from its lyric: …. ‘as we sing this finale, we hope it was up your alley’….and we DO hope our entertainment HAS truly been ‘up your alley’ by featuring some of your favourite hits from the enormously rich heritage of songs from both stage and screen.