During his long career, Noël Coward frequently made commercial recordings of songs he had written for his musicals, even to the point, with his 12th show, Sail Away (1961), of cutting an entire LP of his version of the score. For his 13th and last musical as composer, The Girl Who Came to Supper (1963), he did not make commercial recordings, but he did make demonstration recordings to be used for backers' auditions, music publishers, and other business purposes. Fourteen years after the fact, and four years after Coward's death, this album finally puts those recordings into the commercial realm. Of course one cannot expect it to match the polish of Noël Coward Sings His New Broadway Hit Sail Away, with its full orchestra and Peter Matz arrangements. But it does feature a typically animated Coward singing over piano accompaniment, after carefully announcing each number and which character or characters are meant to be doing it in the show. Actually, whether or not one knows anything about The Girl Who Came to Supper, the album constitutes an excellent addition to the Coward discography, since it contains a batch of excellent songs in his familiar styles, including some witty lyrics, some moving romantic ballads, and some knowing pastiches of familiar musical styles in its two big medleys, "London" (full of singalong pub songs) and "The Coconut Girl" (no less than a musical in miniature itself). For those who do know the show, there are special treats. Like many musicals, The Girl Who Came to Supper went through extensive out-of-town revisions before it arrived on Broadway, and this version contains several songs that were cut, including the excellent "Long Live the King -- If He Can." It's a comic song about successful attempts to assassinate the potentates of Carpathia, but all the humor disappeared when President Kennedy was assassinated while the show was on the road, and it was quickly deleted. Also lost along the way were "Time Will Tell," "If Only Mrs. Applejohn Were Here," and "Just People," probably more for time considerations than anything else. "Footman's Sextet" became "When Foreign Princes Come to Visit Us"; "Westminster Abbey" turned into "Coronation Chorale"; "I'm a Lonely Man" was replaced by the similarly intended "Lonely"; and "Come Be My True Love" was revised into "This Time It's True Love." Even though The Girl Who Came to Supper did not turn into a Broadway hit, fans of musical theater will delight in delineating the alterations, and Coward fans will welcome a belated addition to his body of recordings.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|The Girl Who Came to Supper|