Spread a Little Happiness: West End Musicals

  • Sheridan Morley


In celebrating, as we just about can in 1992, the first century of the British stage musical in its modern form, we would do well to remember the complaint of one of its greatest and most prolifically successful exponents, Noel Coward, who in a moment of uncharacteristic despair commented ‘the only trouble with the British is that they have never taken light music seriously enough’ (Coward, ‘Preface’). To a lyricist and composer of his generation (he was born into a world of Gilbert and Sullivan just ten days before the last Christmas of the last century, hence the name Noel) it was a source of regular amazement and regret that his fellow-countrymen seemed through his lifetime to be getting less interested and/or confident in the whole notion of the West End musical as an indigenous art form, so that by the end of his long career Coward himself, that most quintessentially English of writers and men, was actually premiering his musicals on Broadway.


Musical Theatre American Musical Musical Comedy Paul McCartney Successful Exponent 
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  1. Coward, Noel. The Noel Coward Song Book. London: Michael Joseph, 1953.Google Scholar
  2. Morley, Sheridan. Spread a Little Happiness; The First Hundred Years of the British Musical. London: Thames and Hudson, 1987.Google Scholar
  3. Tynan, Kenneth. Tynan Right and Left. London: Longmans, 1967.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Theodore Shank 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheridan Morley

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