Noël Coward

Together with Music

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Mary Martin and Noël Coward were still-prominent veteran entertainers when they joined together in October 1955 to appear on the live, 90-minute television special that is aurally reproduced here. The 41-year-old Martin was fresh from her Broadway and TV triumph in Peter Pan, only the latest in a series of stage musicals with which she filled her career. The 55-year-old Coward, whose work as a playwright was in decline, had recently begun a new phase of his career as a nightclub performer in Las Vegas. The two had been working together since the problematic Coward-written, Martin-starring musical Pacific 1860 in 1946. On TV, they largely worked separately, after opening with the show's specially written title song. Coward shows audiences what was wowing them in Las Vegas: his rapid-fire recitatives of his own comic songs like "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" and a medley of some of his more sentimental material. Martin shines on a medley of songs from her stage triumph, South Pacific, and a reprise of Cole Porter's "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," her Broadway debut. Together at the end, they do a lengthy and somewhat chaotic medley of old favorites. While the visual element is lost on record and the sound quality is TV-tinny, the exuberance of the show comes across. Unfortunately, the original two-LP set, which contained the entire show, was condensed to 56 minutes for CD reissue.

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