Was ever a villain so beloved as Cyril Ritchard's CAPTAIN HOOK? How slender and elegant he looked in his scarlet pirate coat, with ruffles at the throat and wrists; jeweled rings on his left hand (the right with that wicked hook). Who else could dance so gracefully in those tight pants and be so light on his feet in those high topped boots? "No little children love me," Hook laments during HOOK'S WALTZ on the pirate ship; how wrong he was!
Cyril Trimnell-Ritchard was born in Sydney, Australia in 1898 and achieved a 60-year long career as a singer, dancer, actor and director. His career encompassed films, TV and the stage on three continents, Australia, England and the United States. His range included revue, musical comedy, West End and Broadway long running comedies and opera. He specialized in humorous villains and excelled at playing Restoration fops. He was a Renaissance man of multiple talents.
The biographical info below is based partly on Ernest Thompson's article from the November 1976 issue of AFTER DARK magazine kindly copied for me by Christy Schurman, partly on information given to me by Ray Stanley in Australia, who remembers many of these shows when he lived in the U.K., partly from an interview conducted by Hazel deBerg for the Oral History Collection of the National Library of Australia; partly from material kindly photocopied for me by Paul Bentley from Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts; and partly from my own research.
Cyril was born on December 1, 1898 at Surry Hills in Sydney, Australia. He had four brothers and a sister. His first exposure to the theatre was a production of PETER PAN which he saw when he was 8. He was educated at St. Aloysius College and Sydney University. In college he had the title roles in productions of MACBETH and HAMLET and Sir Charles Surface in THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL. His parents wished him to study medicine but after a year he dropped out, unable to face the blood. He started work as a $7 a week chorus boy with J.C. Williamson in the Royal Comic Opera Company where he stayed for two years, although he was out of the chorus in three months. He made his theatrical debut at 19 in a revival of A WALTZ DREAM (1917) at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney, and before long became the juvenile lead in touring companies throughout Australia and New Zealand . Eventually, he would team up with Madge Elliot, Australia's top musical star. Their first appearance together was KATINKA (1918). Their careers in Australia would continue to be a series of successful pairings. Upon their triumphant return to Australia from their successes in England, Cyril and Madge were married September 16, 1935, fifteen years after they met, at St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney; 50 police were required to control the crowd of some 5,000 outside the cathedral. They were so famous and beloved in Australia that their first names alone were sufficient in newspaper headlines about them. I am indebted to the State Library of New South Wales for the photo of Cyril and Madge's wedding. (Madge's wedding gown was created by Peter Russell.) They honeymooned in Honolulu and returned to England. In April 1939 Madge gave birth to a son who died hours afterwards.
I am indebted to my friend Ray Stanley for ferreting out some information on Cyril's early Australian career based on a "diary" written by Madge Elliott for publication in the Melbourne STAR between March 16 and 26, 1935.
|Madge was born Leah Madeleine Elliott in Kensington (London) on May 12, 1896 and emigrated to Toowoomba, Queensland while still a baby. She attended Miss Minnie Hooper's School of Dancing and had her first professional engagement in the children's ballet of the Melba Grand Opera Co. in 1911. She advanced from the ballet to principal dancer in the Exquisite Eight, which was her beginning in musical comedy. As a member of the Exquisite Eight she toured Australia and New Zealand in SO LONG LETTY, YOU'RE IN LOVE and CANARY COTTAGE. Her first real acting assignment was in A NIGHT OUT; thereafter she played Nichette in YES, UNCLE. Her final stage appearance was in PRIVATE LIVES in Sydney in 1951. She was ill for some years afterwards and was hospitalized in Los Angeles in August 1954. She died a year later on August 8, 1955 in New York.|
Cyril appeared in the following shows in Australia or New Zealand:
THE PINK LADY - a musical by Ivan Caryll; Cyril's first role was the Satyr and he understudied Leslie Holland's lead role, which he later played throughout New Zealand. Also in the cast were Florence Young and Gladys Moncrieff.
THE WILLOW TREE - a Japanese play where Cyril was graduated from the chorus into a "big part" of a Japanese boy.
DADDY LONG-LEGS - Cyril played Jimmy McBride in this tale of an orphan who is taken under the wing of a wealthy benefactor.
KATINKA - back to the chorus again in this operetta by Otto Harbach and Rudolf Friml.
OH! OH! DELPHINE - a musical comedy set in The Hotel Beau Rivage in Brest, France. Book by C.M.S. McLellan; music by Ivan Caryll; lyrics by C.M.S. McLellan; based on the French farce VILLA PRIMROSE.
THE BING BOYS ARE HERE - Cyril understudied Clyde Cook who sprained an ankle so Cyril went on at a moment's notice and danced with Maie Baird. This is a famous revue which introduced the song IF YOU WERE THE ONLY GIRL (IN THE WORLD) with music by Nat D. Ayer and lyrics by Clifford Grey; the text was by George Grossmith, Jr. and Fred Thompson based on Rip and Bousquet's LE FILS TOUFFE.
1918 YES, UNCLE! - a musical comedy by Austen Hurgen and George Arthurs, with music by Nat D. Ayer and lyrics by Clifford Grey. Madge considered this the first play she and Cyril appeared in as "partners". Cyril was a French officer and Madge played a serving maid, Nichette. Madge writes "we established ourselves as something new in the dancing world".
1919 GOING UP - The first time Cyril teamed with Madge Elliott; they became instant stars. The show described as the "aeroplane musical" opened in Brisbane and went on to New Zealand. Cyril choreographed a number for the two of them which they first tried out in a show called OH BOY in Wanganui, New Zealand. (OH BOY was in repertory although Cyril was not in the cast.) According to Cyril in an interview from the Oral History Section of the National Library of Australia, the dance was a sensational success and they had to do at least two encores every performance. Cyril even in 1970 remembered this as a high point of his career in terms of applause from the audience.
A NIGHT OUT Cyril choreographed a ballet entitled COLIN AND PHRYNETTE which he danced with Marge. From a contemporary review: "Shall we ever forget Colin and his six little brothers who brought the phantom-like ladder for Phrynette to climb down from her flowery window and dance by the light of the moon with the dashing pierrot?"
1921 OH, LADY! LADY! opened at the Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney and transferred to the Royal. Starred Dorothy Brunton who played Fainting Fanny, a pickpocket. Cyril played Finch, her employer. Also in the cast were Alfred Frith and William Greene. Madge played a predatory woman named Marjorie Barber who tries to break up Cyril's impending marriage. Cyril, Greene and Frith performed a comedy song and dance entitled DO IT NOW. Madge and Cyril had a specialty dance number entitled LA VEEDA. The play involved those common elements of farce, a wedding, an impersonation, a mix up, and several love affairs. Its bright and breezy numbers, daring costumes and vibrant ethos embodied the spirit of the Jazz age. The comedy was followed by a series of specialty acts, which filled the remainder of the evening.
YOU'RE IN LOVE
1923 THE CABARET GIRL - Madge's first principal role, a musical comedy in three acts with music by Jerome Kern and a book by P. G. Wodehouse and George Grossmith.
SO LONG, LETTY - a musical by composer Earl Carroll.
1932 BLUE ROSES - Cyril played Chepstow Potts at the Melbourne Theatre Royal and His Majesty's Theatre, Sydney. Madge costarred as Susan Winslow. From a contemporary synopsis: "There are two of these 'Blue Roses'--the real one and a dyed one. ..[T]he real one is ingeniously stolen by an American, who carries it off in his golfing bag, and ...the make-believe one is temporarily borrowed by a nephew of a titled lady who is opening a flower shop." One dance "shows a compass with a living needle" and another one features the chorus "on the darkened stage with twinkling lights on their shoes." Scenes were set in a fashionable flower shop, a stateroom on a liner and a night club. TABLE TALK in May 1932 called Cyril "lithe and leopard-like" and the ADVERTISER said Cyril "deft and incredibly light and sure as a dancer, has developed into a capable leading man."
1932 HOLD MY HAND - Cyril played Eddy Marstone, an irresponsible young bachelor and Madge played his ward, Paula Bond. Eddy's injudicious speculations lose not only his own fortune but Paula's as well, but a timely legacy saves the situation and the curtain goes down on three happy bridal couples. A contemporary review described this as a "Terpsichorean comedy" which "gives ample scope for a great deal of happy nonsense" and particularly mentioned their "Wedding Morn" ballet, in which "their mutual ardour melts the walls between the adjoining rooms in which they are dressing." The review also singled out the song "The Moment I Saw You" which "signals the first meeting of Paula and Eddy" as one of "the highlights of the show".
1933 OUR MISS GIBBS - Cyril played the Honorable Hughie Pierrepont, an enthusiastic amateur criminal, with Madge in the title role, a shop girl who sells candy.
1933 QUAKER GIRL, July 22-September 13, Theatre Royal, Sydney - Cyril played Tommy Chute, an American attache, and directed; Madge played Prudence, a French Bonapartist bride. This production was a revival that was updated with a "background of lavish ensembles and gorgeous fashion displays". It was set in a Quaker village in the West of England. Other scenes were set in a Parisian salon and at a magnificent ball . Among the musical numbers Cyril performed were A RUNAWAY MATCH, DANCING LESSON and CHAMPAGNE DANCE. Also in the cast were Coral Brown and Winifred Morrison.
1934 GAY DIVORCE - Opened at the Theatre Royal, Sydney on July 28, 1934. Cyril directed and appeared as Guy, with Madge the lady he was courting.
1934 BLUE MOUNTAIN MELODY - Music and lyrics by Charles Zwar with book by J.C. Bancks. Melbourne - from a contemporary review the story wove "its pattern of romance through a fencing class at a ladies' athletic club in Sydney, taking in the inevitable house party at Palm Beach and moving to its climax in a cafe. It all centres round the adventures of a boxer who paints pictures; or perhaps he is an artist who boxes." The reviewer found the outstanding number the "Shadow" dance of Madge and Cyril. Cyril played Peter Harley, a cattle king and Madge played Judy Trent, a cabaret girl. Also in the cast were Agnes Doyle, Gus Bluett (as Dynamite Dan, the unlucky boxer), Leo Franklyn, Frank Leighton, Marie le Varre, George Moon, Don Nicol and Arthur Clarke.
1934 ROBERTA. - Cyril appeared in this as the conductor of a jazz band, directed and apparently also helped choreograph the ballets and dances. It was the first occasion on which he had been an independent producer. A musical comedy by Otto Harbach and Jerome Kern; the score included SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES. Madge played a Russian Princess . Also in the cast were Ethel Morrison and Leo Franklyn.
1935 HIGH JINKS - Melbourne. Cyril played Dick Wayne and Madge played Sylvia Dale, an actress with whom he falls in love. From a contemporary review: "The plot concerns one of those elaborate matrimonial mixups so popular with writers of farce when conventions could be so much more easily shattered than they can now. Its setting at the French watering place Beauville gives opportunity for some highly effective sets against which the ballet disports itself to advantage." The reviewer singled out LOVE'S OWN KISS as a particular highlight. Also in the cast were Field Fisher, Mary Rigby, Frank Leighton, Leslie Crane, Mona Potts, Ethel Morrison, Leo Franklyn, John Dobbie; Jean Duncan and Marie Le Varre.
1946 TONIGHT AT 8:30 - Cyril and Madge performed three of Noel Coward's plays: WAYS AND MEANS, FAMILY ALBUM and SHADOW PLAY. Also Coward's SET TO MUSIC.
1951 PRIVATE LIVES - Cyril and Madge appeared in this best known Noel Coward comedy as Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne. (How I would love to hear Cyril say that immortal line, "Don't quibble, Sybil"!) This ran from June 19 to September 5, 1951 at the Palace Theatre, Sydney. This was Madge's final stage appearance.
1960 THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY by Samuel Taylor and Cornelia Otis Skinner (the latter co-starring); Cyril recreated his Broadway success as Pogo Poole.
In 1924, Cyril came to New York for a time and shared an apartment with Walter Pidgeon. He made his New York debut in the Dillingham revue PUZZLES OF 1925 with Elsie Janis, Helen Broderick, Borrah Minnevitch and Pidgeon. Madge called it "a typically frothy little show, all color and movement." This ran for 104 performances at the Fulton Theatre. Eventually, Madge would join him in Manhattan where he was now under contract to Florenz Ziegfeld. The sketches Cyril participated in, included:
Opening- We Beg to Announce (written by Elsie Janis)
Titina - with Irma and Dorothy Irving and Shirley Vernon (written by Leo Daniderff)
First Act Finale - You've Got to Dance - with Irma and Dorothy Irving and the Entire company (written by Elsie Janis)
Doo-Dab - with Misses Appleby, Stone and Vernon and Messrs. Ritchard, Hale and Holbrook (written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby)
Second Act Finale - with the entire Company.
Cyril came to London in 1925 where he made his West End debut in Andre Charlot's revival of BUBBLY. After appearing in the following string of musicals, including four years of Stanley Lupino musicals, Noel Coward dubbed Cyril and Madge "the musical Lunts". I am grateful to my friend Ray Stanley for details of some of these London stage appearances:
1925 BUBBLY - opened June 29, 1925 at the Duke of York's Theatre, written by John Hastings Turner and Philip Braham. Cast included Edmund Gwenn, Reginald Bach, Laura Cowie, Teddie Gerard, Madge Elliott, Nellie Bowman, Reginald Fry. Cyril had the second lead and was praised in THEATRE WORLD as being "a light comedian and dancer with the creative humour and alertness of a Jack Buchanan, the head and legs of a Noel Coward, and better looks than either and with a charm and personality all his own. ... All London will be talking about him before the month is out and congratulating Andre Charlot on a genuine 'find'." The reviewer also singled out THE STRANGE STORY OF THE INTELLECTUAL SERGEANT-MAJOR as a funny and clever sketch; and FOUR WAYS OF HANDLING AN OLD SITUATION and Arthur Weigall's Grand Guignol mime, A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH in which the same plot was treated as a comedy, an American "crook drammer", a Stage Society's problem play (of Manchester to Wigan 'school') and as a Lyceum patriodrama.
1926 THE MIDNIGHT FOLLIES - at the Hotel Metropole in 1926, a revue-cum-musical comedy piece with spectacular ballets and gay settings. Cyril appeared with Madge.
1927 LADY LUCK - Opened Carlton Theatre on April 27, 1927 and ran for 324 performances. The cast included Cyril (as Tommy Lester), Madge (as Patience), Laddie Cliff, Leslie Henson, John Kirby and Phyllis Monkman. Music by H.B. Hedley and Jack Strachey; lyrics by Desmond Carter; book by Firth Shephard and Greatrex Newman. Additional songs by Rodgers and Hart. Cyril played Tommy Lester and recorded HAPPY and, with Madge, I'VE LEARNED A LOT.
1928 SO THIS IS LOVE - Opened April 25, 1928 at the Winter Garden Theatre and ran 321 performances. Music by Hal Brody, lyrics by Desmond Carter. Cyril and Madge appeared with Laddie Cliff, Stanley Lupino and Sylvia Leslie. Cyril played the Hon. Peter Malden in love with his penniless ward, played by Madge. The show was cowritten by Stanley Lupino and Arthur Rigby.
1929 LOVE LIES - Opened at the Gaiety Theatre on March 20, 1929 and ran for 347 performances. Cast included Cyril, Madge, Laddie Cliff , Reita Nugent , Stanley Lupino and Connie Emerald. Music by Hal Brody; lyrics by Desmond Carter; book by Stanley Lupino and Arthur Rigby; with additional songs by Leslie Sarony. Cyril played Jack Stanton. A contemporary THEATRE WORLD review called it "the jolliest musical show in London, played by a company of all-around excellence at a speed that defines criticism" and cited the "whirlwind dancing" of Cyril and Marge as the happy couple "who leap, as only Cyril Ritchard and Madge Elliott can leap, through the open window of the ballroom to, one hopes, a safe landing and eternal happiness below." Further, "Cyril Ritchard and Madge Elliott make a delightful hero and heroine. Their dancing is superbly graceful, far ahead of anything on the musical comedy stage today. Cyril Ritchard has also developed into a fist-class light comedian with a style all his own." Click here for a clip from LOVE LIES.
1930 THE LOVE RACE - I have been able to acquire on eBay a programme from this musical play Cyril appeared in with Madge. According to my friend Ray Stanley, this opened at the Gaiety Theatre on June 25, 1930 and ran for 287 performances. The play was written, produced and starred Stanley Lupino, who was a cousin of Lupino Lane, the star of the original ME AND MY GAL and father of Ida Lupino. Cyril played Harry Drake (Talkie Star) and sang LOVE SOMEBODY, YOU CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN and DON'T YOU SEE. The show featured 14 songs with music by Jack Clarke and lyrics by Desmond Carter. Also in the cast were Laddie Cliff (who presented the production), Connie Emerald, and some 20 named characters not counting the chorus. It was made into a film in 1931, but there is no mention of Cyril's role in the ImdB credits.
1931 THE MILLIONAIRE KID - This 1931 musical costarred Cyril and Madge and, once again Laddie Cliff (and this time the Lupino was Barry). Ray informs me this opened at the Gaiety Theatre on May 20, 1931 and also in the cast were Vera Bryer and Gilly Flower. Cyril played the Hon. Aubrey Forsyth. The music was by Billy Mayer with lyrics by Frank Eyton and book by Noel Scott. Click here for a clip from the Pathe short
1937 THE CONSTANT SINNER - Opened April, 1937 at the "Q" Theatre; Cyril played Hugo Arnold.
1937 IN THE BEST FAMILIES - Opened June, 1937 at the Arts Theatre; Cyril played Charlie Paget.
1937 PEOPLE IN LOVE - Opened September, 1937 at the Ambassadors Theatre; Cyril played Nicky. Also in the cast were Jack Allen, Ellen Pollock, Ena Burrill and Henry Newitt.
1937 BEDTIME STORY - - a comedy based on the Cinderella theme by Walter Ellis, opened December, 1937 at the Garrick Theatre. Cyril played Sir John Shaley. Also in the cast were Vicki Lister, Eliot Makeham, H.R. Hignett, Emma Trechmann and Marie Ault.
1939 SLEEPING BEAUTY - Opened December, 1939 at the Palace, Manchester. A Christmas pantomime.
1942 THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST - Opened October 14, 1942 at the Phoenix Theatre. Cyril scored a notable success as Algernon with John Gielgud and Edith Evans in this Oscar Wilde comedy. It was his first non-singing role.
1943 THE MERRY WIDOW - Opened March 4, 1943 at His Majesty's Theatre and ran for 318 performances. Cyril directed and played Prince Danilo (Secretary of Legation) while Madge had the title role. Cyril had a solo "I Go Off to Maxim's" and sang two duets with Madge, "Silly, Silly Horseman" and "Waltz Scene". Cyril and Madge toured from October, 1943 and from February through June, 1944 during World War II to London, Cairo, Alexandria, Italy, Paris, Holland and Brussels. Then returned to London and played at the Coliseum September 19, 1944 and December 1944. Toured again in 1945.
1945 GAY ROSALINDA - A musical comedy version of the opera Die Flaudermaus, opened at the Palace Theatre on March 8, 1945 and ran for 413 performances. English adaptation by Austin Melford and Rudolf Bernauer, lyrics Sam Heppner, music Johann Strauss. Cyril played Gabriel Von Eisenstein. Also in the cast where Jay Laurier, Ruth Naylor, James Etherington and Irene Ambrus.
1947 THE RELAPSE - Opened December 17, 1947 at the Lyric Hammersmith and transferred in January 28, 1948 to the Phoenix, directed by Anthony Quayle. Madge costarred as a dissolute widow in her first non-musical role; and they later appeared in this on Broadway in 1950 at the Morosco Theatre. Cyril played Sir Novelty Fashion, his greatest triumph.
1949 ANN VERONICA - Opened May 20, 1949 at the Piccadilly Theatre; Cyril played Hubert Manning. This "romantic story of a rebellious girl" starred Robert Harris , John Woodnutt and Wendy Hiller, written by Ronald Gow, the husband of Ms. Hiller, based on a story by H.G. Wells.
1950 THE SCHOOLMISTRESS - Opened February 1, 1950 at the Saville Theatre. Cyril and Madge co-starred in this comedy by Arthur Pinero . THEATRE WORLD opined "One can still enjoy Pinero's wonderful skill in construction, and the party scene, which fills the second act, is still extremely funny and no one could fail to fall under the spell of Cyril Ritchard's The Hon. Vere Queckett or Fred Emney's mountainous Rear-Admiral." This is a farce about a schoolmistress (the role Madge played), owner of an academy for young ladies, who gets her pin money secretly by singing in grand opera.
1952 THE MILLIONAIRESS - Opened May 29, 1952 at the "Q" Theatre and moved to New Theatre on June 27, 1952. By George Bernard Shaw; Cyril costarred as Adrian Blunderbland, the title character's gentleman friend whom she tosses down a flight of stairs when he dares to express a negative opinion about her late father. Katherine Hepburn had the title role; this later played on Broadway at the Shubert Theatre.
Among the London revues Cyril appeared in are:
1925 CHARLOT'S REVUE - The cast of the 1925 edition at the Prince of Wales Theatre included Quentin Tod, Grace Wilson, Patrick Adair, Jessie Matthews, Henry Lytton, Jr., Edmund Gwenn, Dorothy Dickson, Maisie Gay and Cyril. Cyril appeared in the following skits:
HOW DO YOU DO; lyric by Eric Blore and Dion Titheradge; music by Philip Braham
CABARET DRAMA by Ronald Jeans; Cyril played Lord Silverside
ONE MAN WOMAN - words woven by Leonard Henry; music manufactured by H B. Hedley; also in this number were Maisie Gay, Patrick Adair, Quentin Tod and Ivor McLaren
THE PERMANENT WAVE by Dion Titheradge; Cyril played a Hairdresser
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR - lyric by Graham John; music by Geoffrey Gwyther; also in this number were Dorothy Dickson and the chorus.
SUSIE - lyrics and music by B.G. DeSylva
FATE - by Ronald Jeans; Cyril played the Lover
OFF THE LINES by H.C.G. Stevens and Ronald Jeans; Cyril played the Husband to Dorothy Dickson's Wife.
A CUP OF COFFEE; Cyril and Dorothy Dickson sang COFFEE, SANDWICH AND YOU, lyric by Billy Rose, Al Dubin and Irving Caesar; music by Joseph Meyer.
Cyril also participated in the following items which involved the entire company: the first act FINALES and THE JIGGER JAG.
1926 R.S.V.P. - Opened at the Vaudeville Theatre on February 23 ,1926 and ran for 297 performances. Cast included Cyril, Joyce Barbour, Mimi Crawford , Enid Stamp-Taylor, Annie Kasmir, J. H. Roberts and Robert Hale. Music by Richard Addinsell and Norman O'Neill; lyrics by Greatrex Newman and Rowland Leigh. Revue by Archie de Bear. I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of this programme for me. Cyril appeared in the following items:
SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD (by Lewis Young and Ray Henderson) with Mimi Crawford
MY BACHELOR DAYS (by Austin Melford and Melville Gideon)
WORSE-THAN-ANY-MARY (by Greatrex Newman). Cyril played Hale Fellow Well Set in this parody of MERCENARY MARY, a "Hippodrome success".
ALICE IN LUMBERLAND by Archibald de Bear; Cyril played Mr. Brown-Jones and the Mad Hatter to Mimi Crawford's Alice.
FAMILY BRIDGE (by J. H. Roberts and Greatrex Newman); Cyril played the irascible Major Trevor.
HOW D'YOU DO? (by James Heard and Melville Gideon)
SENTIMENTAL ME (by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers) with Mimi Crawford, J.H. Roberts and Joyce Barbour
HOUP-LA!, the finale which involved the entire company.
1930 THE CO-OPTIMISTS - Between 1921 and 1935 there were eight editions of this show (originally devised by Davy Burnaby, Laddie Cliff and Archibald deBear). It was a sort of concert party; intimate, satiric, vaudeville offerings. and a lot of the casts became very well known later. Cyril appeared in the 1930 edition which opened at the London Hippodrome in April 1930 and ran for 129 performances, The book and lyrics were by Greatrex Newman and music by Arthur Schwartz. Also in the cast were Stanley Holloway, Davy Burnaby and Phyllis Monkman. I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of this programme for me. Cyril appeared in 3 numbers, including
THE MOMENT I SAW YOU with Mimi Crawford; Howard Dietz cowrote the lyrics with Greatrex Newman
OPERATIC HOUSE-HUNTING with Davy Burnaby, Stanley Holloway, Herbert Mundin, Joe Sargent and Eric Le Fre.
THE LOST CHILD with Mimi Crawford, Davy Burnaby and Eric Le Fre; Cyril portrayed "Doctor Dear".
Cyril also took part in the numbers involving the entire company, THE CO-OPTIMISTS OF 1930 MEET YOU AND GREET YOU, DETACHABLE DRAMAS, SUNDAY AFTERNOON (a) THEN and (b) NOW, JACK AND JILL a L'AMERICAINE (Howard Dietz cowrote the lyrics with Greatrex Newman) and THE TROUPE TO GIVE THE STUFF.
1936 TO AND FRO - Opened Comedy Theatre December 1936. I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of this programme for me.
|Out of the Cage||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.|
|Jeunesses D'Orees||Diana Morrison, Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes|
|Fantasies||Towina Thomas, Sammy Samuels, Ella Marion, Trixie Scales, Mercy Carnell, Eva Thorn, Maisie Green, Betty Shepard, Biergit Nissen|
|By Day Animals--By Night Humans||Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy, Viola Tree, Gerry Fitzgerald, Yvette Darnac, Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing, Zoe Winn, Bill Kershaw and Entire Company|
|To and Fro||Lyrics by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr.||The Entire Company; danced by Bobby Tranter and Cyril Wells|
|The Gallery||Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||A Social Artist||Billy Kershaw|
|Shop Girl||Towina Thomas|
|Titled Lady||Diana Morrison|
|Boy About Town||Peter Moyes|
|The Camera Never Lies||Simon Carnes||Compere||Cyril Ritchard|
|a||Joan Griffiths, Peggy Shingleton, Pat Hurren, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith|
|Je T'aime (after Watteau)||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade||Yvette Darnac|
|At Any Dance||Arthur Watkyns||The Girl||Hermione Baddeley|
|The Boy||Cyril Wells|
|Caledonian Market||Lyric by Simon Carnes; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Viola Tree, Cyril Ritchard|
|A French Lesson||Aubrey Ensor||Professor||Esme Percy|
|Waiting for Twilight to Fall||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Sung by||Gerry Fitzgerald|
|Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffith, Cyril Wells, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith and The Girls|
|Learning Dramatic Art||Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Compere||Viola Tree|
|Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard|
|Goodbye Romance||Simon Carnes; lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade||The Girl||Hermione Baddeley|
|The Professor||Esme Percy|
|Play Like I Like It||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Zoe Wynn, Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter|
|Literary Widows||Herbert Farjeon; music by Walter Leigh||Viola Tree, Yvette Darnac, Hermione Baddeley|
|Wreckage||Edgar Blatt||She||Zoe Wynn|
|Artists' Model||Yates Mason; music by Geoffrey Wright||Hermione Baddeley|
|Prelude||Lord Berners||She||Maud Lloyd|
|Art Knows No Nationality||Osbert Sitwell||The Impresario||Esme Percy|
|The Artist||Viola Tree|
|Haven't Got a Heart||Lyric by James Laver; music by Hugh Wade||Hermione Baddeley|
|Political Hot-Pot||Simon Carnes|
|Celebrated Empires||Egypt||Peggy Shingleton|
|Pine for Peace||The Boy||Peter Moyes|
|The Girl||Zoe Wynn|
|Old Tree||Esme Percy|
|Young Tree||Cyril Wells|
|Selling the Earth||The Auctioneer||Gerry Fitzgerald|
|A Foreign Lady||Diana Morrison|
|A Bidder||Alan Davis|
|On the Battlefield, tra-la||Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||1st General||Esme Percy|
|2nd General||Cyril Ritchard|
|Followers||Cyril Wells, Bobby Tranter, Peter Moyes, Ian Hamilton-Smith|
|Vivandieres||Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas|
|A Milk Maid||Hermione Baddeley|
|A Crooner||Gerry Fitzgerald|
|International Rhythm||Lyric by Eric Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Gerry Fitzgerald and Entire Company|
|I'm Going to Challenge You||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Zoe Wynn, Peggy Shingleton, Joan Griffiths, Diana Morrison and the Girls|
|I've Balanced My Budget||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by nat Ayer, Jr.||Billy Kershaw|
|The Party Spirit||Edgar Blatt & J.M. Griffith||Hilda Higgins||Viola Tree|
|Alfred Higgins||Cyril Ritchard|
|I'm On My Own||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Yvette Darnac|
|Dancers:||Maude Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls|
|Ridiculous Days||Simon Carnes||Mr. Biggleswade||Esme Percy|
|Mrs. Biggleswade||Viola Tree|
|The Big Black Horse||Lyrics by Edgar Blatt & Simon Carnes; music by Leslie Southgate||The Girl and Chatterton||Hermione Baddeley|
|The Landlady of To-day||Pat Hurren|
|The Landlady of Yesterday||Viola Tree|
|Sir Horace Walpole||Esme Percy|
|Member of the Book Society||Cyril Ritchard|
|Song of the Book Society||Herbert Farjeon||Hermione Baddeley, Cyril Ritchard, Esme Percy, Viola Tree, Pat Hurren|
|Reprise--Play Like I Like It|
|Surrealists||Archie Campbell in conjunction with Simon Carnes & Edgar Blatt||The Mother||Viola Tree|
|A Person||Ian Hamilton-Smith|
|An Artist||Cyril Wells|
|The Daughter||Hermione Baddeley|
|A Thing||Bobby Tranter|
|Symphonie Russe||Music by Prokokief; suggested by Sophie Fedorovitch||Maud Lloyd, Hugh Laing and The Girls|
|Entrancing Dancing||Simon Carnes; music by Leonard Blackett||The Maestro||Esme Percy|
|The Woman of the Plains||Cyril Ritchard|
|The Sower||Cyril Wells|
|Let's Take A Chance||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Hugh Wade||Gerry Fitzgerald, Zoe Wynn, Billy Kershaw, Trixie Scales, Bobby Tranter, Towina Thomas|
|Something in the Movies||Lyric by Gerrard Bryan; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Cyril Ritchard|
|Girl Guides||Aubrey Ensor; music by Michael Sayer||Miss Simpson||Viola Tree|
|Daphne Davies||Hermione Baddeley|
|The Bishop||Osbert Sitwell||Esme Percy|
|Flats||Simon Carnes & Viola Tree|
|The Bells Will Ring||Lyric by Edgar Blatt; music by Nat Ayer, Jr.||Cyril Ritchard, Zoe Wynn, Towina Thomas and Entire Company|
1936 SPREAD IT ABROAD - Opened at the Saville Theatre on April 1, 1936 and ran for 209 performances. Cast included Cyril, Walter Crisham, Tessa Deane, Dorothy Dickson, Lyle Evans, Hermione Gingold, Nelson Keys, Ivy St. Helier, Michael Wilding. Music and lyrics by William Walker. Revue by Herbert Farjeon. Additional songs by Jack Strachey and Holt Marvell. See my webpage on Hermione Gingold for details; I have no programme for the time Cyril was in the cast.
1938 NINE SHARP opened at the Little Theatre on January 26, 1938 and ran for 405 performances with book and lyrics by Herbert Farjeon. Music by Walter Leigh. The Cast included Cyril, Hermione Baddeley, Kathryn Hamill, Charlotte Leigh, Betty Ann Davies, Peggy Willoughby, Elizabeth Pollock, George Benson, Gordon Little, Michael Anthony, Eric Anderson and Ronald Waters. A contemporary review in THEATRE WORLD called it "topical, witty and pungent on its satire on modern conditions." A favorite item was VOILA LES NON-STOP NUDES, "the last word on this popular form of entertainment, with Hermione Baddeley as the chanteuse who sheds crinoline and picture hat for the most exiguous of rose-buds and Cyril Ritchard as the Poilu who bursts into the parade of historical figures with a deliciously incongruous patriotic ditty. . . . THANK GOD FOR THE B.B.C. tilts amusingly at the gods and goddesses of the air. THEME SONGS FOR SHAKESPEARE is another clever Farjeon idea, with a blues for Hamlet and Ophelia, entitled MOODY DANCE, a hot number for Bottom and Titania, and a trumpet solo a la Louis Armstrong for Othello. CARTES POSTALES brings to devastating life the highly coloured, languorous creatures so enchanting to French tastes on natal and other festival days." Cyril was singled out as "the ideal leading man for a show of this kind. His mock recitation A MAN'S REPENTANCE and his PETER PLOVER'S PARTY are two of the highest spots of the evening." I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of this programme for me. Cyril appeared in the following skits:
WHERE SHALL WE GO with the entire company
HEAVENLY BODIES, as "He" opposite Hermione Baddeley as "She".
CRUISE, BABY as the "He-Cruiser" opposite Hermione as the "She-Cruiser".
THANK GOD FOR THE B.B.C. as "Vaudeville Eric"
BRIDGE as one of the Players
A MAN'S REPENTANCE, a verse by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (According to THEATRE WORLD, Cyril performed this as a Victorian roué, complete with opera cloak, monocle and protruding teeth.)
VOILA LES NON-STOP NUDES as Poilu
THE GREAT BY-GADDER as the 1st Client of a masseur.
PETER PLOVER'S PARTY by Patrick White (According to THEATRE WORLD, Cyril played this as a blonde-wigged socialite, doing a Ruth Draper at a cocktail party with a blistering running commentary on friends and foes present, ending with "My dear, who's that? Les Perles de la Couronne? Oh, no! It's G*d*r*y W**n!")
THEME SONGS FOR SHAKESPEARE (music by John Pritchett) as Othello (According to THEATRE WORLD, this was a trumpet solo in the best Louis Armstrong manner.)
ANTIGUA (lyric and music by Leslie Julian Jones) with Hermione Baddeley
CARTES POSTALES as the Visiteur (according to THEATRE WORLD, Cyril performed a mocking rendition of JOSEPHINE; and
1939 HERBERT FARJEON'S LITTLE REVUE opened at the Little Theatre on April 21, 1939 and ran for 415 performances. Among other items, Cyril appeared in a skit where Hermione Baddeley played Mlle. Allova and he was Harold Helpmeet; they danced the ballet THE CREAKING PRINCESS to Walter Leigh's music. In a sketch called THE QUEEN OF THRILLS he portrayed April Mawne and he danced and choreographed a number called 1912 SONG. He also portrayed Martha in a sketch entitled MARTHA OF THE PLAINS. He also appeared in a satire on music lovers entitled GLYNDEBOURNE, GLORIOUS GLYNDEBOURNE which punctured the affectations of musical snobs. A contemporary review in THEATRE WORLD said: "I liked [Cyril] particularly as a vast peasant woman from Mittle Europe, leading the revels in one of those mournful folk-dances, and as a musical juene premier of 1912, surrounded by a bevy of hobble-skirted maidens." Another issue of THEATRE WORLD remarked: "Cyril Ritchard is another tower of strength... Best of all I liked his Martha, Woman of the Plains in GALA DANCE MATINEE, a gaunt angular creature with a technique terrifyingly authentic." After that, the writer admired "his passé film actress in QUEEN OF THE THRILLS." Click here for a list of the items in this revue.
1940 UP AND DOING originally opened April 17, 1940 but was interrupted by the blitz; it re-opened at the Saville Theatre on May 20, 1941 and ran for a further 332 performances.
I've been able to get hold of a programme for UP AND DOING (1940-42) which contains exhortations of DON'T FORGET YOUR GAS-MASK. There is a further notice as follows: There is accommodation for nearly everyone in the Theatre in the spacious Salon underneath the Orchestra Stalls. It is the most luxurious Air Raid Shelter in London. In the event of an Air Raid Warning, an announcement will be made from the stage. It will not necessarily mean that a raid will take place and, in any case, it is not likely to occur for at least five minutes. Those who wish to leave may do so, and there is a Public Shelter immediately opposite the front of this Theatre. The performance will continue, and members of the audience are advised, in their own interests, to remain in the building.
The cast of UP AND DOING featured Leslie Henson, Binnie Hale, Cyril Ritchard, Stanley Holloway, Patricia Burke, Carroll Gibbons and Graham Payn. Cyril's numbers included THE WHITEHALL WARRIOR, SEASIDE ATTRACTIONS, BY YOUR LEAVE, YIP-I-ADDY-I-AY, ADAPTED BY THE FRENCH and THE ELOCUTIONIST. Cyril and Binnie Hale burlesqued two fan dancers (Cyril in drag) in a nightclub scene, CHEZ HENSON, which featured the Rodgers and Hart number SING FOR YOUR SUPPER. Click here for a photo of Cyril by Harlip from the programme.
I was able to find an MP3 file of I'M ONE OF THE WHITEHALL WARRIORS on Napster and have transcribed the lyrics (by Phil Park) as best I can. I was recently contacted by John Nurick of Eastbourne in the UK with some corrections and a few additional lyrics which are not sung by Cyril on the recording which, I am informed, is from an LP called REVUE 1930-1940 ORIGINAL ARTISTS (PMC 7154).
(Spoken) All right bring the car 'round to Whitehall at 5 o'clock
A stroll is grand along the Strand
|I'm one of the Whitehall warriors!
The whole of the tripe that I dictate
Has got to be typed in triplicate.
I'm one of the Whitehall warriors!
My orders I give
And sprawl in a swiv-
With a nonchalant air
I'm one of the Whitehall warriors!
I'm one of the red tape brigade.
I check out the boots
That are worn by recruits
I buy rum and apportion the tots
I order wash basins
From Fortnum and Mason's
And quite a selection of pots.
I'm one of the Whitehall warriors!
I've answered the call, Whitehall!
You'll find I'm a handy kind of man
If ever you planned
A trip to Cannes.
A fellow who goes to military shows
And bowls along in a Rolls.
I'm one of the red tape brigade.
I reserve occupations
For all my relations
It's social position that tells;
And for those who are pally
There's always a ballet;
I send them to Sadlers Wells.
I'm one of the Whitehall warriors!
I've answered the call, Whitehall!
(Spoken) Oh it's wonderful!
The additional lyric is:
In a book called COMIC AND DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES
compiled and edited by Michael Marshall (Elm Tree Books
1981), Marshall indicates that a sketch by Reginald Purdell
SAHIB written for the Savage Club's Saturday night
entertainments was added to UP AND DOING (titled THE
ELOCUTIONIST in the programme ). Based on the Milton
Hayes poem THE GREEN EYE OF THE LITTLE YELLOW GOD, the
sketch involved Stanley Holloway as a serious monologuist in
full evening dress, hounded to distraction by Leslie Henson
and Cyril Ritchard as two Indian army officers. From
their vantage point in the stage box, they interrupted
throughout and constantly sought to make Holloway 'dry' or
smile. As Holloway recalled, If they had
succeeded, the monologue would have lost all credibility
and it was one of the hardest jobs of my life to resist
the leg-pulling of that sophisticated artist Cyril
Ritchard and my beloved, gravelly-voiced friend, Leslie
1942 BIG TOP, a Herbert Farjeon revue which opened May 8, 1942 at His Majesty's Theatre and ran for 139 performances. Cyril starred with Madge, Beatrice Lillie, Patricia Burke and Fred Emney. I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of this programme for me.
|Getting Rid of It||Music by Geoffrey Wright and Harry Parr Davies||Compere||Charles Hickman|
|London Song||Patricia Burke|
|Baritone Song||Fred Emney|
|Dirty Song||Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliott|
|Paris Song||Beatrice Lillie|
|What's in a Name?||in collaboration with Eleanor Farjeon||Cyril Ritchard, Fred Emney|
|Tin Pan Alley||Plugger's Lament lyric by Barbara Gordon and Basil Thomas; music by Harry Parr Davies||Song Plugger||Patricia Burke|
|Long May We Love lyric by Ivan Lane and Clarisse Freedlin; music by Kermit Goell||Client||Joan Avril|
|Bird Song||Music by Geoffrey Wright||Beatrice Lillie|
|Coupon Strip Tease||Geoffrey Wright||Pearl Carr, Lee Hanson, Enid Smeeden, Paddie Raymonde, Sabina Gordon, Ruth Warner|
|Wedding Reception||Desmond Martin||Bride||Madge Elliott|
|Aunt Alice||Gretchen Franklin|
|Uncle Dick||Fred Emney|
|Glamor Girl||Beatrice Lillie|
|Flamingo||Ted Grouya & Edmund Anderson||The Singer||Patricia Burke|
|Telling a Tale||Aubrey Wilmer||Fred Emney, Charles Hickman|
|Mockbeth||Aubrey Wilmer; music by Geoffrey Wright||Lady Macbreath||Beatrice Lillie|
|The Witches||Maurice Leverett, Gretchen Franklin, Charles Peters|
|Memories of 1937|
|Casino de Paris||Pigeon Vole lyric and music by Charles Trenet||Marcel De Haes and Mr. Cochran's Young Ladies|
|The Ballet at Covent Garden|
|Box 1||M. Leverett|
|Box 2||Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliott, Angela Braemar|
|Box 3||C. Hickman, Heather Boys|
|Box 4||Beatrice Lillie, Daphne Peretz|
|Box 5||Fred Emney, Evette Huntley|
|Introduced by||Patricia Burke|
|South American Way||Lyric by Tommie Connor; music by Nicholas Brodsky||Beatrice Lillie|
|Dancer in White||Yoma|
|The Ghost of an Old Chorus||Music by Geoffrey Wright||The Spirit||Patricia Burke|
|All Star Quartette||Music by Geoffrey Wright||Beatrice Lillie, Cyril Ritchard, Fred Emney, Madge Elliott|
|Free French||Music by Geoffrey Wright||Sailor||Marcel De Haes|
|Musical Comedy Time||Words by Diane Morgan; music by Elsie April||Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliott|
|Romany Emeny||Charles Hickman||Romany Emeny||Fred Emney|
|His Assistant||Charles Hickman|
|First Client||Daphne Peretz|
|Second Client||Heather Boys|
|Gipsy Girls||Yvonne Robinson, Pearl Carr|
|Madame Recamier||Music by Geoffrey Wright||Recamier||Beatrice Lillie|
|Pages||Enid Smeeden, Yvonne Robinson|
|Hey Ho||Lyrics by Barbara Gordon and Basil Thomas; music by Harry Parr Davies||The Singers||Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliott, Patricia Burke|
|The Lady in Grey||Music by Harry Parr Davies; lyric by Barbara Gordon and Basil Thomas||Beatrice Lillie|
|Sub Stuff||Reginald Beckwith||Cyril Ritchard|
|Sheila and the Peeler||Music by Nicholas Brodzsky||Sheila||Patricia Burke|
|The Peeler||Robin Hood|
|Vin Extraordinaire||in collaboration with Reginald Beckwith||The Patrons||Beatrice Lillie, Cyril Ritchard, Fred Emney|
|When I Hear Music||Lyric by Barbara Gordon & Basil Thomas; music by Harry Parr Davies||Patricia Burke and the Buddy Boys|
|India||(included Song of India)||Beatrice Lillie, Cyril Ritchard, Fred Emney, Madge Elliott, Patricia Burke and company|
1945 SIGH NO MORE opened at the Piccadilly Theatre August 22, 1945 and ran for 213 performances. Cyril appeared in a sketch opposite his wife called PARTING OF THE WAYS, portrayed an Indian Army Officer singing I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM?, appeared with the company in a PAGEANT in which he played the Spirit of Masque (a pageant which goes wrong at every turn), portrayed a Bad Angel to his wife's Good Angel in a skit called WILLY; sang the Coward song NINA, appeared as Private Niven opposite his wife in a sketch called THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR set in Windsor in Victorian times, and appeared with the entire company in the finale. Click here for details of SIGH NO MORE.
1953 HIGH SPIRITS Opened May 15, 1953 at the Hippodrome. Starred Cyril, Diana Churchill, Patrick Cargill and Ian Carmichael. The 14th item, THE SHOPGIRL PRINCESS, was presented in 6 scenes set in a department store, Hyde Park, the Savoy Tea Lounge and a lawn. I am indebted to Ray Stanley of Australia for lending me the programme.
|1||1953--A Spirited Opening Chorus||Lyrics by Peter Myers & Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||The Old Reviewers||Cyril Ritchard, Diana Churchill, Ian Carmichael, Thelma Ruby|
|The New Revue||The Company|
|2||1558--Typical Topical Number||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Dilys Lay, Leslie Crowther, Thelma Ruby, Patrick Cargill|
|3||1588--A Stately Gavotte||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||Cyril Ritchard, Joan Sims, Marie Bryant, Eleanor Fazan|
|4||1608--Berth of a Nation||Peter Myers, Alec Grahame||Isabella||Diana Churchill|
|Travellers||Patrick Cargill, Ronnie Stevens, Ian Carmichael, Leslie Crowther, Maxwell Coker|
|5||1628--Love is Not Love||Lyric by Peter Myers, Lionel S. Harris; sketch by Peter Myers & Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||Rose||Valerie Carton|
|Pilgrims||Thelma Ruby, Ian Carmichael, Ronnie Stevens, Leslie Crowther, Maxwell Coker|
|6||1708--The Way of the Dales or The Serialis'd Wife||David Climie; music by John Pritchett||Dame Dale||Diana Churchill|
|Dr. Dale||Cyril Ritchard|
|Miss Pru||Thelma Ruby|
|Mr. Twist||Leslie Crowther|
|7||1748--Family Portrait||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||The Duke||Ronnie Stevens|
|The Duchess||Joan Sims|
|Their Daughters||Dilys Lay, Valerie Carton|
|The Visitor||Patrick Cargill|
|8||1768--A Smile, A Song and a Lexicon||Lyric by David Climie; music by Ronald Cass||Cyril Ritchard, Ian Carmichael|
|9||1818--Cricket on the Village Green||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||The Lady||Valerie Carton|
|The Gentlemen||Patrick Cargill, Leslie Crowther, Maxwell Coker, John Walters|
|10||1858--Leek House||Peter Myers, Alec Grahame||Fagin||Ian Carmichael|
|11||1868--Inveterate Poseur||Lyric by David Climie; music by Ronald Cass||Joan Sims|
|12||1898--Honky-Tonk Blues||Lyric by Peter Myers & Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||Lulu Sweet||Marie Bryant|
|Creole Gentlemen||Maxwell Coker, Ronnie Stevens, Leslie Crowther, Patrick Cargill|
|Ladies of the Town||Dilys Lay, Valerie Carton, Eleanor Fazan|
|13||1908--A Legend of the Master||Lyric by David Climie; music by John Pritchett||Cyril Ritchard|
|14||1918--The Shopgirl Princess||Book & lyric by Peter Myers & Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Cora Fitt||Diana Churchill|
|St. John Chalmers Latham||Cyril Ritchard|
|Florrie Fisher||Joan Sims|
|Percy Hoskins||Ronnie Stevens|
|The Duchess of Lukewater||Thelma Ruby|
|Lady Nancy Bashlake||Valerie Carton|
|The King of Slavotzia||Patrick Cargill|
|The Duke of Lukewater||Ian Carmichael|
|Countess Olga Petrograd, a White Russian||Dilys Lay|
|Miss Bott||Thelma Ruby|
|Lonsdale, a butler||Leslie Crowther|
|Two Exhibition Dancers||Marie Bryant, Maxwell Coker|
|Gentlemen of the Town||Ian Carmichael, Leslie Crowther, Maxwell Coker, Patrick Cargill|
Interval of 35 years
|15||1953--Prologue||Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Thelma Ruby|
|16||Serenade to a New-Fashioned Girl||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Couturier||Ian Carmichael|
|Models||Valerie Carton, Dilys Lay, Thelma Ruby, Joan Sims, Eleanor Fazan, Marie Bryant|
|17||Watch Your Language||David Climie||The Translator||Cyril Ritchard|
|Miss Huggins||Thelma Ruby|
|Her Gentleman Friend||Leslie Crowther|
|The Strong Arm of the Law||Maxwell Coker|
|18||Mr. Henderson||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Diana Churchill|
|19||Come Into the Garden||Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; arranged by Ronald Cass||Announcer||Ronnie Stevens|
|Rhinemaidens||Marie Bryant, Valerie Carton, Thelma Ruby|
|20||Square Dance||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||Ronnie Stevens|
|21||Eton Quota Song||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by Ronald Cass||Cyril Ritchard|
|22||A Plea||Lyric by David Climie; music by Ronald Cass||The Woman||Marie Bryant|
|The White Man||Patrick Cargill|
|Her Family||Leslie Crowther, Maxwell Coker, Dilys Lay|
|23||They Lie With Their Boots Clean||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Ian Carmichael|
|24||A La Satre||David Climie; music by John Pritchett||The General||Cyril Ritchard|
|25||Hottentot Potentate||Arthur Schwartz & Howard Dietz||Marie Bryant|
|26||Lost in the Forest of Elizabeth Arden||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Diana Churchill|
|27||Something for the Boys||Peter Myers, Alec Grahame; music by John Pritchett||Introduction||Patrick Cargill|
|The Supa Jets||Leslie Crowther, Joan Sims, Ronnie Stevens, Thelma Ruby, Dilys Lay, Valerie Carton|
|28||Our Revels Are Now Ended||Lyric by Peter Myers, Alec Grahame, Lionel S. Harris; music by Norman Dannatt, Ronald Cass||The Company|
I was able to acquire on eBay a programme from HIGH SPIRITS with photos from some of the revue numbers. The 1588 sketch, A STATELY GAVOTTE, contains the satiric lyric: "First thou puts thy two knees right up tight", a reference to BALLIN' THE JACK.
In the 1778 sketch, A SMILE, A SONG AND A LEXICON, the photo shows Cyril with a false red upturned nose and a wig that ends in a pigtail. He and Ian Carmichael played Boswell and Johnson and perform a "cross-talk" act (rapid and witty talk or conversation).
Cyril also staged or appeared in a number of operas, including LA PERICHOLE (1956), THE GYPSY BARON (1960), THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (1961), THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (1961), THE TALES OF HOFFMAN (1962), NAUGHTY MARIETTA and ROSALINDA. He played the Mikado in an updated version written by Alan Melville for the BBC called TITIPU opposite Hattie Jacques as Katisha. He also toured in roles that other actors originated, including NO, NO, NANETTE and AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS.
According to an April 25, 1951 article in the Australian magazine PEOPLE, Cyril made his U.S. television bow with Madge in a quiz program. He followed it up two weeks later by doing a brief sketch on THE BILLY ROSE SHOW. He was a semiregular on the TV series MR. PEEPERS, starring Wally Cox and Tony Randall in 1955. Over the years he participated in television as an actor, singer and director:
1951 DUET FOR TWO ACTORS - Cyril's American TV debut in an episode of BILLY ROSE'S PLAYBILL broadcast on NBC February 20, 1951, based on the story THE CHASER by John Collier about a man who visits a demon for a love potion which is cheap because the demon knows that the love will become oppressive and the "chaser" (to kill the person who drank the love potion) costs a lot more. Frank Albertson costarred.
1951 RUGGLES OF RED GAP - Cyril had the title role of the fabulous butler. He costarred with Glenda Farrell, Henry Jones and Walter Abel. Broadcast on CBS February 27,1951 as an episode of PRUDENTIAL FAMILY THEATRE.
1951 MRS. DANE'S DEFENSE - April 11, 1951 KRAFT TELEVISION THEATRE on NBC; Madge costarred.
1952 TREASURE CHEST - Cyril costarred with Pat Crowley and Parker Fennelly on GOODYEAR TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE, broadcast March 2, 1952.
1952 PONTIUS PILATE - Cyril played the title role in this WESTINGHOUSE STUDIO ONE presentation. Geraldine Fitzgerald played Procula, Pilate's half-Jewish wife. In the first act, she urges him to release the clearly innocent Jesus, while he vacillates for political reasons. In the second act, as Jesus is dying on the cross, Procula watches him die and returns to Pilate a changed woman. The third act is fifteen years later; Pilate is now married to Calpurnia (wife Madge Elliott) when he is called upon to interview the leaders of the new Christian movement, one of whom is Procula. Also in the cast were Francis L. Sullivan as Herod and Berry Kroeger as the Jewish high priest Caiphus. Broadcast April 7, 1952 on CBS.
1952 THE TWELVE POUND LOOK with Helen Hayes, a TV adaptation of the 1911 J.M. Barrie play about a wife who decides to become a secretary and walks out on her husband as soon as she has accumulated twelve pounds, the price of a typewriter, broadcast as an episode of OMNIBUS on CBS on November 23, 1952.
1952 PAGODA - Cyril had a small role in this WESTINGHOUSE STUDIO ONE presentation of a confusing, unpleasant story about the corrupt owner (Herbert Rudley) of a commercial airline who hires upright John Forsythe to manage operations in Rangoon, airlifting troops and supplies for the Burma government. Unknown to Forsythe, there are also shipments to the insurgents. Cyril played a nasty British contact who was in on the double cross and tried to bribe Forsythe. Also starring Sono Osato.
1953 TWO FOR TEA - Cyril played Arnold in an episode of LUX VIDEO THEATRE, broadcast January 5, 1953. Nancy Marchand and Brian Aherne costarred.
1953 TWO FOR ONE - an episode of the PHILCO TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE broadcast on NBC January 18, 1953; Murray Hamilton costarred.
1953 MILTON BERLE'S BUICK HOUR - Cyril is hired by Milton to direct Judith Anderson; Cyril suggests a dramatic reading, with himself and Judith doing a scene from MEDEA. Georgia Gibbs also appeared and Arnold Stang played an NBC stagehand who liked to heckle Berle.
1954 HERE'S FATHER - an episode of GOODYEAR PLAYHOUSE broadcast on NBC January 17, 1954; Elaine Stritch costarred.
1954 KING AND MRS. CANDLE, A PHILCO TELEVISION PLAYHOUSE special scripted by Sumner Locke Elliott with music by Moose Charlap and lyrics by Chuck Sweeney. This 90-minute musical aired on NBC on April 18, 1954 and starred Cyril, Irene Manning, Joan Greenwood, Richard Hayden, Theodore Bikel and Donald Mayre. The plot involved King Rupert of Brandovia who rules his country with an iron fist, while his people are busy exporting bologna and fighting off neighboring Carps and Gloats. A revolution deposes Rupert, and he must learn to live in a democracy. He works at various odd jobs and courts Lily Candle, a dance instructor. Repeated August 22, 1955 for NBC on PRODUCERS SHOWCASE.
1954 THE VIRTUOUS ISLAND (for OMNIBUS) - Cyril directed and costarred with Hermione Gingold, Darren McGavin and Burgess Meredith, broadcast on CBS November 28, 1954.
1954 THE MERRY WIDOW (for OMNIBUS) - Cyril directed Patrice Munsel. Broadcast on CBS December 26, 1954.
1955 APOLLO OF BELLOC (for OMNIBUS) Cyril directed Claude Dauphin.
1955 PETER PAN
- A full length version of his Tony and Donaldson-award
winning performance as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook.
After the TV broadcast, Cyril was a national
celebrity. This was originally broadcast March 7,
1955, and was restaged on January 9, 1956 and finally
restaged for a third time on December 8, 1960. Writing
in BROADWAY, THE GOLDEN YEARS (Continuum 2001), Robert Emmet
Long says, "A crowning stroke was the casting of Cyril
Ritchard as Captain Hook (partly villain and partly prancing
Restoration fop) as well as the kindly father, Mr. Darling.
... Captain Hook was intended to be delightful
to children: a papier mache pirate, he walked
with mincing steps and giggled into his sleeve.
Whenever Hook meditated merrily on how to do away with
Peter Pan, the orchestra would strike up a tune and he would
do an absurd walz ("Hook's Waltz"), a tarantella, or a tango
("Hook's Tango"). He makes many of his entrances and
exits carried with silly pretentiousness on a sedan chair."
|In 2012 I was contacted by Jane Klain of the
Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Radio
& TV) about a 20-minute promo the Center had
acquired from NBC that was broadcast to PAN sponsors
RCA and Ford to let them know the efforts NBC was
putting into promoting the March 7, 1955 broadcast.
I discovered PETER PAN was the first ever
Broadway show to be transmitted in its entirety on
TV. It was broadcast from NBC's Brooklyn
studios, then the largest color TV studios in the
world. NBC mounted its largest ever ad
campaign to promote the telecast, and it was
simultaneously broadcast from a large display in
Times Square (a precursor to the one now seen in
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's opening credits and during the
annual "ball drop" on New Year's Eve).
During the course of this promo, Mary Martin and Cyril both appeared; Cyril changed on camera from his business suit into his Hook costume, including the hook, and sang HOOK'S TANGO with Norman Shelly (instead of Smee) appearing in the Nana costume. As Cyril donned this wonderful getup he explained that it was from the Charles II era, and that J.M. Barrie, in his stage notes of the play, had called Hook's appearance "dandiacal".
Also taking part in this promo was Peter Foy ("Flying by Foy"), imported from the U.K. to engineer the flying sequences. He explained that normally the star was handled like fine china, but Mary Martin kept insisting that she do more and bravely did.
1955 VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET - before this was made into a Broadway comedy smash, Cyril originated the role of Kreton in this Gore Vidal teleplay. Broadcast May 8, 1955 on the Goodyear Playhouse, costarring Dick York, Edward Andrews, Bruce Kirby and Louis Edmonds.
1955 THE SPONGERS - A STUDIO ONE episode broadcast June 6, 1955 on CBS; Cyril played Monty Gavenhurst. Murray Hamilton and Alice Pearce co-starred.
1955 DEAREST ENEMY - a November 26, 1955 NBC production starring Cyril with Anne Jeffreys, Robert Sterling and Cornelia Otis Skinner. With a score by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart, this was a lavish costume drama set during the Revolutionary War. It opens in 1788 at the British Officers Club, where General Howe (Cyril) and Captain Copeland (Sterling) are reading the newspapers. They sing CHEERIO, as they remember setting sail for the colonies at the start of the war. The action then flashes back to New York in 1776, where they come across a statue of Peter Stuyvesant, and Cyril sings SWEET PETER about how difficult it was for Stuyvesant to cheat on his wife because the sound of his wooden leg gave him away. They set off to battle with Washington but instead wind up at the house of Mrs. Murray (Skinner) and her niece Betsy (Jeffreys), American patriots who are at first hostile to them, but when the ladies are secretly asked to keep the British there while Putnam's reinforcements get to Washington, they suddenly turn into good hostesses. Cyril sings YOU MUST BE OLD ENOUGH TO LOVE, wooing Mrs. Murray with a sprightly dance. Later at a dance Mrs. Murray has held, Cyril and Cornelia Otis Skinner sing WHERE THE HUDSON RIVER FLOWS, which enumerates all the places in New York Mrs. Murray would like the General to see. Later, Cyril and Cornelia Otis Skinner sing THE HERMITS, wondering what hermits do in the spring when the love bug has bitten everyone. This song has particularly tongue twisty lyrics that Cyril sings with aplomb. The ladies' plan works, and Washington escapes from the British. Back in the British Officers Club in 1788, the newspapers reveal that Mrs. Murray and Betsy are passengers on a ship that has just landed in England. General Howe and Mrs. Murray are reunited, as are Betsy and Copeland; they reprise several of the earlier numbers. The book for the original stage show, which ran for 286 performances in 1925, was by Herbert Fields; the 78 minute TV version was adapted by William Friedberg and Neil Simon. The TV production was produced and directed by Max Liebman, and a soundtrack was issued on a CD.
1956 THE GOOD FAIRY by Ferenc Molnar about a cinema usher (Julie Harris) who, in an effort to do a good deed every day, picks out of a phone book the name of a lawyer and pretends to be married to him. Cyril costarred as Konrad, the millionaire who pursues Harris, forcing her to make up a phony husband. Also in the cast were Roddy McDowall, Paul Lynde, Walter Slezak and Florida Friebus. Broadcast on NBC February 5, 1956 as an episode of HALLMARK HALL OF FAME.
1956 CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA - George Bernard Shaw's play; Cyril costarred as Brittannus with Claire Bloom (as Cleopatra), Farley Granger, Jack Hawkins, Sir Cedric Hardwicke (as Caesar), Patrick Macnee, Thomas Gomez and Judith Anderson. Broadcast on NBC as part of PRODUCERS SHOWCASE on March 5, 1956.
1956 UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY - a comedy by J. P. Miller with Nina Foch. Broadcast March 27, 1956 on NBC for PLAYWRIGHTS '56. According to TIME magazine's review, Cyril (Royce Thurmond) "played a man who had nothing to give the world except embarrassing truths, even to the point of delivering a graveside eulogy recounting only the evil deeds ("He never did anything good in his life") of a village ne'er-do-well. ... Using switches in time, theatrical asides and a downbeat ending (Ritchard is still defiantly standing alone against the world even after his daughter, Nina Foch, leaves him in disgust), Coe broke all the rules for capturing an audience. And in doing so he gave his play a kind of compelling honesty that added still another dimension to a fine dramatic week."
1956 ROSALINDA - the TV version of DIE FLAUDERMAUS involved Rosalinda (Jean Fenn), her jealous but philandering husband (Cyril), their charming maid and a tenant. Broadcast on NBC July 23, 1956 as an episode of PRODUCERS SHOWCASE.
1956 THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW - Cyril appeared on this variety show to promote the upcoming JACK AND THE BEANSTALK; other guests included Buster Crabbe, Joel Grey, Jerry Lewis, Celeste Holm and Arnold Stang, broadcast November 11, 1956.
1956 JACK AND THE BEANSTALK- Cyril costarred as a Peddler in this musical fairy tale with Joel Grey (who played Jack), Celeste Holm, Billy Gilbert and Arnold Stang. As the Peddler who exchanges the magic beans for Jack's cow, Cyril sang THERE ONCE WAS A BOY AND HIS NAME WAS JACK and THIS IS THE ONE about the cow. Later in the plot, Cyril and Celeste Holm, revealed as having plotted to bring Jack to the Giant's land in order for him to slay the giant, sing THE BIGGER THEY ARE THE HARDER THEY FALL. This production seemed heavily influenced by the 1939 WIZARD OF OZ, in that everything turned out to be a dream, and the characters Jack met in the Giant's land were played mainly by the same actors he knew in his hometown, Billy Gilbert appearing as both the town bully and the giant. Broadcast on NBC November 12, 1956 as an episode of PRODUCERS SHOWCASE.
1957 THE PATRICE MUNSEL SHOW - Cyril was a guest on this variety series, broadcast on October 18, 1957 and a later appearance on December 20, 1957.
1957 WHAT'S MY LINE? Cyril was the mystery guest on the December 22, 1957 episode. Panel included Arlene Francis, Robert Preston, Dorothy Kilgallen and Bennett Cerf. Click here for a YouTube video of this appearance.
GENERAL MOTORS 50TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW - Cyril was one of the many celebrities on this variety special which celebrated GM's 50th anniversary, broadcast November 17, 1957.
1958 HALLMARK HALL OF FAME: THE CHRISTMAS TREE. Cyril and Carol Channing played ice skating tramps in one segment of this multipart Christmas special broadcast on NBC on December 14, 1958. Cyril ice skated with his usual grace while singing a special contemporary Christmas song. He and Carol root through a trash can filled with boxes from opened Christmas presents; she finds fingerless gloves and he finds a scarf, while they sing lyrics reflecting the names of famous department stores. Then she gives him a wrapped gift, which turns out to be the gloves; and he gives her a similarly wrapped package which turns out to be the scarf.
1958 ED SULLIVAN TOAST OF THE TOWN - Cyril appeared on March 9, 1958.
1958 THE DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW - Cyril appeared on June 1, 1958 and (with Ethel Merman) January 1, 1958.
1958 LA PERICHOLE - This operetta was broadcast on NBC on January 26, 1958 as an episode of OMNIBUS.
1958 PERSON TO PERSON - Edward R. Murrow visited Cyril on CBS January 31, 1958.
1958 ALADDIN - Cyril played the wizard Sui Generis who aspires to be ruler of all mankind. He narrates a story set in China at the time of Marco Polo where he masquerades as the uncle of Aladdin (Sal Mineo) and gulls his widowed mother (Una Merkel) into allowing Aladdin to accompany him to the desert . There, by magic incantation, he opens a portal in a rock. He forces Aladdin into the cave but before the boy returns with the lamp, he gets locked in. When Aladdin rubs the lamp, a genie (Geoffrey Holder) appears who whisks Aladdin home. Disguised as a peddler offering new lamps for old, Sui Generis gets hold of the magic lamp while Aladdin is seeking the hand of the princess (Anna Maria Alberghetti) from her emperor father (Basil Rathbone). Sui Generis uses the lamp to become emperor and throws Aladdin in prison where his next door neighbor, an apprentice pickpocket (Howard Morris) is able to steal back the lamp for a happy ending. Cole Porter's last score. Broadcast February 21, 1958 on CBS as an episode of DuPONT SHOW OF THE MONTH.
1959 H.M.S. PINAFORE - Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta. Cyril played Sir Joseph Porter. This episode of OMNIBUS was broadcast on NBC May 10, 1959.
1960 PONTIAC STAR PARADE: FOUR FOR TONIGHT which starred Cyril, Bea Lillie, Tammy Grimes and Tony Randall. Among other things, Cyril appeared in a parody of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS written by Larry Gelbart and directed by Herbert Ross; Paul Lynde had a cameo. Broadcast February 24, 1960.
1961 WHAT'S MY LINE - Cyril was a guest panelist on this game show where panelists had to guess the occupation of ordinary people, as well as the identity of a mystery guest. This was broadcast May 7, 1961.
1962 FESTIVAL REVUE - Cyril appeared with Hermione Baddeley performing some old revue material, including some written by Herbert Farjeon. Cyril sang COLOR BLIND, the Climie-Cass satire on the "red scare" caused by Senator Joseph McCarthy. See the ALMANAC webpage for lyrics.
1962 THE BEAUTY OF A WOMAN - Cyril narrated this musical comedy DuPont Show of the Week broadcast on April 1 ,1962; also in the cast were Jimmy Durante, Hermione Gingold and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
1963 PANTOMIME QUIZ - Cyril was a guest panelist on this very difficult charade game show where celebrity teams had to act out movie titles, mottos, etc. Broadcast February 4, 1963.
1964 PROFILES IN COURAGE: ANNE HUTCHINSON - Cyril directed a script by Jonathan Miller starring Wendy Hiller, Alan Mowbray, Donald Harron and Neil Hamilton. The series was based on a famous book written by John F. Kennedy before he became president, of biographical sketches of real life heroes. Broadcast on NBC July 28, 1964.
1964 DR. KILDARE - In an episode entitled A SENSE OF TEMPO, Cyril portrayed an eccentric celebrated author who checks himself into Blair General Hospital because he's convinced he's going to die within the next six days. His secretary/ward/fiance Patricia Crowley convinces him to let the hospital do tests, but they show he is healthy. He refuses to give a critique to a doctor (Dabney Coleman) who wants him to read his manuscript. When the hospital becomes overcrowded due to an explosion, Cyril offers part of his suite to three badly injured men and meets a kindred soul in nurse Jeanette Nolan who shares clairvoyant powers with him. Also in the cast was John Hoyt as the physician Cyril kept "on retainer" but who had never treated him in 30 years. Aired May 7, 1964. The address of Cyril's real residence in the U.K., Appletrees, 42 Egg Pie Lane, was given for the address of his character Justin Fitzgibbons.
1964 MR. SCROOGE - Cyril played Scrooge in this musical TV version on DuPont Show of the Week. Music by Dolores Claman; lyrics by Richard Morris, Dolores Claman and Ted Wood.
1965 THE MAN WHO BOUGHT PARADISE - a CBS special broadcast January 17, 1965; Cyril played Valentine Silepzki; Walter Slezak, Ray Walston, Robert Horton and Angie Dickinson costarred.
1965 THE IRREGULAR VERB TO LOVE - Cyril recreated his Broadway role for the public broadcasting station NET on November 12,1965.
1965 DANGEROUS CHRISTMAS OF RED RIDING HOOD - A revisionist version of the fairy tale, told by the wolf on Christmas from his cage in the zoo. His defense, he was attracted to Red as a friend but when she rebuffed him he decided to eat her. Cyril played Lone T. Wolf with Liza Minnelli as Little Red Riding Hood, the rock group The Animals as his wolf pack and Vic Damone as the Woodman. During the course of the story, Cyril gets to disguise himself as a wood chopper and as granny, in long Shirley Temple curls. Score by Jule Styne; lyrics by Robert Merrill. Broadcast on ABC November 28, 1965. Cast album issued.
1966 LYRICS OF ALAN JAY LERNER - Cyril hosted this Bell Telephone Hour special, which was broadcast February 27, 1966. John Cullum and Barbara Harris, currently appearing in ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, were among the singers.
1966 THE DANNY KAYE SHOW - Cyril guested on this variety show, broadcast February 9, 1966.
1969 HANS BRINKER AND THE SILVER SKATES. Cyril costarred as Mijnheer Kleef with Eleanor Parker, John Gregson and Richard Basehart in this classic Mary Mapes Dodge children's story with lyrics and music by Moose Charlap filmed on location in the Netherlands. Cyril played a sort of musical comedy Amsterdam inn keeper who sings a real "knees up" musical number in a Cockney accent (of all things) called PROPER MANNERS. This originally ran as a special on NBC on December 13,1969 and was released to video in a 103 minute format in 1988.
1970 FOUL/ACTOR'S CHOICE - Broadcast on PBS as an episode of N.E.T. PLAYHOUSE on November 26,1970; Gwen Verdon and Cyril read pieces written by Lewis Carroll, including a portion of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
1974 THE SNOOP SISTERS - Cyril played Morlock in "The Devil Made Me Do It" episode of this crime/comedy series starring Mildred Natwick and Helen Hayes as crime solving sisters, broadcast on March 5, 1974. The plot involved witchcraft and black magic. Cyril was a source the ladies consulted to explain some Tarot cards they received as a threat. Cyril's character dressed in a long black wig and robe and had a live raven as a doorbell. He spoke in rhyming couplets; the role provided an opportunity for some campy overacting, comedy relief from the otherwise serious plot.
1976 THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS - Cyril costarred with James Coco, Brenda Vaccaro, William Daniels in this sketch round up of the year, broadcast December 26, 1976.
1976 SWORDSPLAY One of four plays under the umbrella title LOVE, LIFE, LIBERTY AND LUNCH. Cyril played a British officer and Dick Shawn played an American officer; each is the sole survivor of his side during the American Revolution. When Shawn shows up under a flag of truce, he tries to persuade the more traditional Cyril that they should surrender to each other and live to win medals and tell their children of meeting the enemy. Written by Peter Ustinov. Broadcast on ABC May 18, 1976.
Cyril also appeared on variety shows hosted by PERRY COMO, RED SKELTON, and THE BELL TELEPHONE HOUR, provided voices for several animated TV specials and appeared as a guest on talk shows.
Among his credits in American theatre are:
|1925||PUZZLES OF 1925||This review opened February 2, 1925 and closed the following May.|
|1947||LOVE FOR LOVE||By William Congreve; costarring were John Gielgud, Pamela Brown, Robert Flemyng and Sebastian Cabot. Opened May 26, 1947 at the Royale Theatre. Cyril played Tattle. This was his Broadway debut.|
|1947||IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST||By Oscar Wilde. Cyril recreated his role of Algernon with John Gielgud, Margaret Rutherford, Pamela Brown, Richard Wordsworth and Robert Flemying at the Royale Theatre.|
|1948||MAKE WAY FOR LUCIA||12/22/48-1/15/49 at the Cort Theatre. Cyril played George Pillson, whom TIME magazine's reviewer called "a dilettantish, old-maidish male." Costarring were Isabel Jeans and Kurt Kazner. Written by John Van Druten, based on novels of E.F. Benson. About the amusing rivalry between two clever, designing women for social leadership in a small English town of 1912. The action takes place in the drawing room of a house in Tilling, in the South of England, during the summer months. The novel was later adapted in more detail for TV as MAPP AND LUCIA.|
|1950||THE RELAPSE||Opened November 22, 1950 at the Morosco Theatre. This Restoration comedy by John Vanbrugh was first performed around 1697. It deals with a narcissistic dandy who has recently purchased a peerage. His idea of entertainment is to look at himself in the mirror. The plot involves mistaken identity and betrothal and all ends happily. Cyril co-starred as Sir Novelty Fashion/Lord Foppington both on Broadway at the Morosco Theatre (with wife Madge Elliott, John Emery and Ruth Matteson) and in a 1947 British production directed by Anthony Quayle at the Phoenix Theatre. Some of the other delightful character names are Sir Tunbelly Clumsey, Miss Hoyden and Syringe (a surgeon). Click here for a photo of Cyril from the Playbill.|
|1951||BUY ME BLUE RIBBONS||Cyril directed this play by Sumner Locke-Elliott which starred Audrey Christie and Enid Markey which opened October 17, 1951 at the Empire Theatre and closed 10 days later.|
|1952||JANE||Opened February 1, 1952 at the Morosco Theatre, by S.N. Behrman based on a Somerset Maugham short story. Cyril directed Edna Best, Basil Rathbone and Adrienne Corri.|
|1952||THE MILLIONAIRESS||Opened October 17, 1952 at the Shubert Theatre, by Bernard Shaw. Cyril costarred with Katherine Hepburn, Campbell Cotts, Peter Dyneley, Vernon Greeves, Bertram Shuttleworth, Nora Nicholson, Genine Graham and Robert Helpmann. In the earlier version playing at the Hippodrome, Coventry, Kenneth Tynan noted "Cyril Ritchard had lent a flustered dignity, like that of a goosed hen, to the nonentity Blenderbland", the title character's gentleman friend whom she tosses down a flight of stairs when he dares to express a negative opinion about her late father|
|1953||MISALLIANCE||By George Bernard Shaw. Opened February 18, 1953 at City Center. Cyril directed a cast which included Barry Jones, Tamara Geva, Roddy McDowall (in his Broadway debut), Richard Kiley, Bramwell Fletcher, Dorothy Sands and William Redfield.|
|1953||JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON'S ALMANAC||Opened at the Imperial Theatre December 10, 1953 and ran for 229 performances. Cyril staged the sketches which starred Hermione Gingold, Billy DeWolfe and others. See http://www.bestweb.net/~foosie/almanac.htm|
|1954||PETER PAN||Opened October 20, 1954 at the Winter Garden Theatre and ran for 149 performances. Cyril played Captain Hook and Mr. Darling to Mary Martin's Peter Pan. This was his first musical on Broadway. He won the Donaldson and Tony Awards. An abbreviated version was later shown on American TV on March 7, 1955 and repeated January 9, 1956 and in color on December 8, 1960. After the TV broadcast, Cyril was a national celebrity.|
|1955||THE HEAVENLY TWINS||Opened November 4, 1955 at the Booth Theatre. Cyril directed a cast which included Jean Pierre Aumont, Faye Emerson and Marcel Hilaire. The show ran only 35 performances.|
|1956||THE RELUCTANT DEBUTANTE||10/10/56-2/2/57 at the Henry Miller Theatre. Cyril directed. Written by William Douglas Home and starring Wilfred Hyde-White and the 19-year old Anna Massey.|
|1957||A VISIT TO A SMALL PLANET||Cyril created the role of Kreton for the TV special in 1955. Gore Vidal then adapted the TV version for the stage and it opened 2/7/57 at the Booth Theatre. After the Broadway run, Cyril toured the U.S. until 6/28/58. In this stage version, Cyril directed and played Kreton, an alien from another dimension who arrives in Virginia in a UFO. He can read minds and levitate objects and threatens to take over the Earth.|
|1959||LOOK AFTER LULU||Cyril directed with Noel Coward adapting the George Feydeau farce OCCUPE-TOI D'AMELIE. Opened at the Henry Miller Theatre on March 3, 1959 with a cast of 25 including Tammy Grimes (as Lulu), Roddy McDowall, Kurt Kaznar, George Baker, Rory Harrity, Craig Huebling, Bill Berger, Barbara Loden and Eric Christmas. Ran 39 performances.|
|1959||THE PLEASURE OF HIS COMPANY||11/22/59-5/28/60 Longacre Theatre. Cyril directed and played Biddeford Poole. Written by Samuel Taylor with Cornelia Otis Skinner. Costarring were Cornelia Otis Skinner, Charles Ruggles, Walter Abel, Delores Hart and George Peppard. Cyril also toured in this in his homeland of Australia from June through December 1960; in the U.S. he toured opposite Maureen O'Sullivan. Cyril played "Pogo" Poole, world athlete and big game hunter. He shows up for the marriage of his only daughter, having not seen her for decades since his first marriage broke up. He charms his daughter so much she agrees to call off the wedding and see the world with him for a year.|
|1961||THE HAPPIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD||Opened 4/3/61 at the Martin Beck Theatre. Cyril directed and played multiple roles, including Chief of State, Pluto, a Heckler, a Gay Blade, a Wine Smuggler, the Pied Piper of Hamelin, a Playwright and an Ambassador. Written by Fred Saidy and Henry Myers; story and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg written to music by Jacques Offenbach. Costarring were Bruce Yarnell and Janice Rule. Writing in AMERICAN MUSICAL THEATRE (Oxford University Press 1992) Gerald Boardman called Cyril "the best of all British fop portrayers". A contemporary review in THEATRE WORLD was impressed with the scenic effects and lighting by William and Jean Eckart, which included "rising through the sky to come across a group of gods and goddesses holding a conference while reclining on clouds."|
|1961||EVERYBODY LOVES OPAL||Opened at the Longacre October 10, 1961. Cyril directed this comedy by John Patrick which starred Eileen Heckert, Stubby Kaye, Brenda Vacarro, John Napier and James Coco.|
|1962||ROMULUS||Opened 1/1/62 at the Music Box Theatre. Adapted by Gore Vidal from a play of Friedrich Duerrenmatt. Cyril costarred with Cathleen Nesbitt, George S. Irving and Howard Da Silva. A comedy set in 476 A.D. Tivoli, near Rome. (A tailor volunteers to lend the Emperor 10 million if he will endorse trousers instead of togas!)|
|1963||TOO TRUE TO BE GOOD||Opened March 12, 1963 at the 54th Street Theatre, Cyril costarred as Col. Tallboys with Lillian Gish, Cedric Hardwicke, Eileen Heckart, Glynis Johns, Ray Middleton, Robert Preston and David Wayne. Written by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Albert Marre.|
|1963||THE IRREGULAR VERB TO LOVE||Opened September 18, 1963 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. A comedy by Hugh and Margaret Williams. Cyril directed and co-starred as Felix Rankin with Claudette Colbert. She portrayed a London matron who has recently been released from jail after bombing 2 fur stores. Cyril played her husband and father of a daughter who is about to become an unmarried mother and a hippie son who has returned from Europe with a Greek girl who doesn't speak English.|
|1964||ROAR LIKE A DOVE||Opened May 22, 1964 at the Booth Theatre. A comedy by Leslie Storm. Cyril directed Betsy Palmer, Roderick Cook, Jessie Royce Landis and Charles Ruggles.|
|1965||THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT, THE SMELL OF THE CROWD||5/16/65-12/4/65 at the Shubert Theatre. Cyril played Sir. Anthony Newley costarred, directed and wrote the music. Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. See http://www.bestweb.net/~foosie/gpaint.htm Writing in his autobiography, THE MUSIC MAN (Metro Publishing Ltd. 2006), Leslie Bricusse says of Cyril in the role, that he "brought to the character of Sir his many years of experience, wit and revue performer style. He was splendidly arrogant and outrageously camp. He got all the laughs that were there to be got, totally missing in the English production, and delivered his songs with a fine edge and a high polish".|
|1967||A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM||Cyril directed and alternated the roles of Bottom, Oberon and Pyramus in this American Shakespeare Theatre production. in Stratford, Connecticut Carrie Nye played Titania and Jerry Dodge was Puck.|
|1969||PETER AND THE WOLF||3/31/69-4/15/69 at the New York City Center. Cyril was narrator. According to an article in the November 1976 issue of AFTER DARK, this was his favorite concert.|
|1970||THE DEVIL'S DISCIPLE||6/6/70-9/6/70 at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, CT by George Bernard Shaw. Cyril directed and played General Burgoyne. Costarring were Jill Clayburgh, David Selby and Margaret Hamilton.|
|1972||SUGAR||4/9/72-6/23/73. Cyril played Osgood Fielding, Jr. Written by Peter Stone based on the 1959 film SOME LIKE IT HOT. Music by Jule Styne; lyrics by Bob Merrill; the team who did FUNNY GIRL. Costarring were Robert Morse, Elaine Joyce and Tony Roberts. This is the story of two jazz musicians who accidentally witness the St. Valentine's Day massacre and decide to disguise themselves as women and hide out in an all girl band in order to escape from the mobsters who want to kill them. Cyril plays an eccentric playboy who falls for Bobby Morse in female form. When the show went on its post-Broadway tour, Gale Gordon took over Cyril's role and Cyril directed the touring company.|
|1973||JOCKEY CLUB STAKES||1/24/73-3/24/73. Cyril directed. Written by William Douglas Home and starring Wilfred Hyde-White, Robert Coote and Thayer David.|
|1975||A MUSICAL JUBILEE||11/13/75-1/1/76. Written by Max Wilk. Costarring were Tammy Grimes, John Raitt, Dick Shawn and Lillian Gish. Among other numbers in this revue, Cyril sang AND HER MOTHER CAME TOO, long associated with him, which is on the ALMANAC CD, VIOLETTA from SWINGING THE GATE (1940), IF YOU KNEW SUSIE, GILBERT THE FILBERT, I'VE GOT SOMETHING and SOMETHING SEEMS TINGLE-INGLEING. He recreated his heckler character from the UP AND DOING revue of 1940, only this time he heckled Dick Shawn instead of Stanley Holloway, as Shawn tried to recite THE GREEN EYE OF THE LITTLE GOLDEN GOD. Additionally, Cyril sang MADEMOISELLE FROM ARMENTIERES and WE'RE BLASÉ.|
I am indebted to Roger Neill who contacted me in 2007 with details of Cyril's opera connection with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He made his debut there in director there on February 19, 1954 with BARBIERE DI SEVIGLIA. That production ran for over 20 years, replaced in 1982! He also sang a minor role in the early performances. His later productions at the Met were: CONTES D'HOFFMAN (debut 11/14/55); LA PERICHOLE (12/21/56) - he also performed in it; NOZZE DI FIGARO (10/30/59); and DER ZIGEUNERBARON (11/25/59).
I was also able to acquire on eBay an audio tape of a December 24, 1950 radio broadcast from the Belasco Theatre of a Theatre Guild production of DAVID COPPERFIELD in which Cyril played Mr. Macawber (opposite Richard Burton as the titular narrator, Boris Karloff as Uriah Heep and Flora Robson as Betsy Trotwood). This 60-minute production was apparently done before a live audience which I did not realize until Cyril got several laughs from his droll line readings.
Another eBay acquisition was an audio tape entitled MOTHER GOOSE (1958) on which Cyril, Boris Karloff and Celeste Holm sing and recite over 70 nursery rhymes. One particular tongue twister which which I had been unfamiliar Cyril pulls off with perfection:
|Betty Botter bought some butter,
But, she said, the butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter,
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter
Is sure to make my batter better.
So she bought a bit of butter
Better than her bitter butter,
And she put it in her batter
And the batter was not bitter.
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.
I found in the New York Public Library system a 60-minute Caedmon audio tape (#51444) of four humorous fairy tales by Godfried Bomans narrated by Cyril. These were very enjoyable, with Cyril putting on different voices and sounding a bit like Hermione Gingold as one of the witches. The four stories were MARABOE AND MORSEGAT, THE LAST BALLOON, THE WILY WIZARD AND THE WITCH IN THE HOLLOW TREE and THE PRINCESS WITH FRECKLES.
Sound bytes of Cyril singing :
ALICE IN WONDERLAND, with Cyril singing the Duchess' Lullaby
Cyril was a devoted fan of the performing arts. He was known to run to a new opera, to the ballet, to the theatre. He suffered a heart attack on November 25, 1977 while appearing as the narrator in the Chicago touring company of SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM, and died a month later in Chicago. He was 79 years old; he was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery, Ridgefield, Connecticut. His wife had died on August 8, 1955, stricken with bone cancer, although she lived to see him win the Tony Award and direct his first opera.
Researched by Judy Harris
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