The Ivor Novello Story



Musicals and Opera

The Brunton

Venue 191


19 Aug ONLY



From the title of the show, you’d expect to be told the most important things about the composer, actor-manager, writer and matinée idol Ivor Novello: but the script-writer John Cairney managed to ignore one of the central facts of Ivor’s life, namely that he was gay and made no attempt to hide it.  You might also think that the story would take up most of the show – but what we were given was a concert of Ivor Novello numbers with a little linking narrative being read by the three main participants, James Dinsmore as Ivor and Daisy Henderson and Elizabeth McCormack as two people who sang a lot…


I had come to the Brunton with high hopes.  When I was young [well, a lot younger] and very much in love, I sang Novello songs to and with my girlfriend.  Love is my reason for living became my theme song, We’ll gather lilacs was our love duet, and My dearest dear said for me all the things I couldn’t put into words.   Alas, as I listened to the singing I felt Clare and I did it so very much better!  Admittedly, we were younger than the singers tonight, but oh dear…wobbly vibrato and iffy high notes abounded – though I must add that things improved slightly as the evening wore on.


Bill Kean played remarkably well, given his extremely jangly piano.  The ladies changed their glad rags for the second half and I learned that Ivor wrote the lines “Me Tarzan.  You Jane” for Johnny Weissmuller, and served a short sentence in Wormwood Scrubs for wartime misdemeanours concerning the use of petrol.  I’m sorry to have to say that this show didn’t come anywhere near the quality of the excellent things I’ve been seeing elsewhere in the Fringe – but the mainly grey-headed audience enthusiastically joined in singing the chorus of Keep the home fires burning and applauded loudly at the end of each half.


Mary Woodward