Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Alan Jay Lerner plaque

No this is not a shock 25-years-after-his-death announcement of the great man's dental issues, but a joyous celebration of the playwright-lyricist [he did not like the word librettist!] at St Paul's Covent Garden, this lunchtime. After a quarter of a century, Liz Robertson, AJL's widow, unveiled his plaque to celebrate his long association with England and the West End.

Liz and the vicar of St Paul's, Simon Grigg planned the event, and asked our old friend Hugh Wooldridge to organise the whole thing - and splendidly he did so...
On hand many greats from the stage... one highlight being Wouldn't it be Luvverly sung by six separate Eliza's... more-or-less spanning the six decades of My Fair Lady's existence. [Sally Ann Howes, Katie Knight-Adams, Jill Martin, Amy Nuttall, Jean Scott & Liz herself.]

David Firman and Jason Carr played on two pianos to accompany... marvellously and extempore! Rehearsal, reschmersal.

Anthony Andrews was glorious emoting Arthur's Proposition speech from Camelot... Jasper and Tony Britton outdoing each other in father and son speechifying. Tim Rice & Don Black gave their lyricists' perspective on his excellence and wit. Russ Abbot & Gerard Kenny sang, as did boys and girls from Laine's Theatre Arts and the West End Chorus... beautifully.

...and what did we do, I hear you cry... well, we accompanied Sir Tim in his ever-excellent rendition of the Alan Jay Lerner piece from Paint Your Wagon, Wand'rin' Star. Many said this was the comic highlight of the event... I think that is a compliment...

Another lovely surprise was seeing our old friend Brian who played the thief in Commuting a piece written for TLQ by Stephen Oliver and which we performed in the Covent Garden Festival as part of our Stephen Oliver Trilogy in the 1990s, directed by Simon Callow. Excellent to see Brian who is now retired, but was in early productions of Lerner shows... and was busily meeting old mates.

Other faces/names sighted... Trevor Nunn, Amanda Barrie, Christopher Biggins, Margaret Hodge (such fun!) and a message was read from Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was unavoidably watching one of his own shows [and Camelot too!] at the Stratford Festival, Canada.

Also unavoidable was the champagne reception at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (busily gearing up for Shrek's opening night tonight) ...and a glorious sunshine-filled day for it too...

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