HERMIONE GINGOLD (1897-1987)

Writing in THE GREAT STAGE STARS (Facts on File 1986), Sheridan Morley said, "The awesome eccentricity of Hermione Gingold has been captured for future generations in the film GIGI, but it is on stage that she gives full expression to that peculiar and hilarious strangeness that is pure Gingold."  Of her appearance as a Theatre Gossip in a revue, T.C. Wolsey wrote:  "To watch Miss Gingold's tongue roll around a familiar name and then quietly drop it off with the mud sticking on is to watch art raising a foible to the stature of a Humor."  Of her appearance in SLINGS AND ARROWS, Harold Hobson noted:  "Miss Gingold blossoms into gargoyles as if she were Notre Dame itself."  Of her appearance in FIRST IMPRESSIONS, Kenneth Tynan in his book CURTAINS (Atheneum 1961) called her a "burbling dragoness fully capable of withering her husband with a single fire-darting glare.  Needless to say, much of what Miss Gingold does is strangely hilarious.  No actress commands a more purposeful leer; and in nobody's mouth do vowels more acidly curdle".

The biographical and career information about Hermione on this webpage is partly based on Dan O'Leary's liner notes from the JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON'S ALMANAC CD, Hermione's autobiography, HOW TO GROW OLD DISGRACEFULLY (1988), my own research in various books mainly about revues (which is how I got interested in Hermione in the first place), and copies of revue programmes kindly provided by Ray Stanley of Australia and Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection.  This webpage is mainly about the revues in which Hermione appeared, rather than her personal life, film career or even her other theatrical roles, which are just mentioned in passing.

The bull-throated, barb-hurling British actress charmed an international audience with her talent, wit and offbeat brand of humor for over seventy years.  Her trademark husky voice was the result of nodules on her vocal chords.  In a 1979 BBC radio show entitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HERMIONE GINGOLD, she told interviewer Alan Haydock that she originally had a coloratura soprano voice, but that it gradually got lower and lower because of the nodules, which her mother forbade her to have removed.

Whether it was film, television, stage or the extremely rare recording, Hermione never disappointed.  Hermione Ferdinanda Gingold was born in London on December 9, 1897.  Her mother, Kate Francis, was English and her father, Jack Gingold, was a well to do Austrian, who later became a British citizen and a member of the London stock exchange.  Hermione and her sister were educated at home by an army of private tutors and nannies.   She also studied for the stage under Rosina Filippi.   On December 8, 1908, she made her London stage debut as the Herald in PINKIE AND THE FAIRIES by W. Graham Robertson (with an elderly Ellen Terry, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Frederick Volpe, Marie Lohr and Viola Tree) at His Majesty's Theatre.  Her London stage career included:

Because she had entertained all through the war, Hermione was granted permission from Parliament, as was the process in those days, to go to the United States.  Her first American acting engagement was with the enterprising Brattle Theatre Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The revue IT'S ABOUT TIME (1951) incorporated some of her material from London.  John Murray Anderson saw her in that show and offered her a role in his forthcoming Broadway venture.

After ALMANAC (1953), Hermione continued to offer unforgettable performances on the stage in OH DAD, POOR DAD, MAMMA'S HUNG YOU IN THE CLOSET AND I'M FEELIN' SO SAD (Phoenix Theatre February 26, 1962) and FIRST IMPRESSIONS (Alvin Theatre, March 19, 1959) , a musical version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE with book and direction by Abe Burrows, in which she played Mrs. Bennett.  Farley Granger, Polly Bergen and Donald Madden were in the cast.  She performed six numbers, three of them solos, on the original cast album (Columbia OL 5400).  

She also appeared in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC and SIDE BY SIDE BY SONDHEIM.  The BBC did a radio series about her entitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HERMIONE GINGOLD in which she talked in a frank and amusing way about her life and career.  She had completed the final draft of her autobiography HOW TO GROW OLD DISGRACEFULLY when she died on May 24, 1987; it was published posthumously in 1988.

Some London revues in which Hermione Gingold appeared (details courtesy of her autobiography and individual programmes I have tracked down from the sources cited below) include:

SPREAD IT ABROAD (1936) Opened April 1, 1936 at the Saville Theatre and ran for 209 performances; book and lyrics by Herbert Farjeon; music by William Walker.  Cast included Walter Crisham, Michael Wilding, Ivy St. Helier, Dorothy Dickson and Hermione.  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.  Hermione appeared in the following items:

THE GATE REVUE (1938)  Opened December 19, 1938 at the Gate Theatre; written by Diana Morgan, Robert MacDermot, Gerrard Bryant, Ronnie Hill and Arthur Marshall with music by Geoffrey Wright.  It transferred to the Ambassadors Theatre March 9, 1939 and ran for 449 performances, after some cuts imposed by the Lord Chamberlain, who at that time censored all West End shows. This is the first of the revues Hermione did with Walter Crisham.  This contained a sketch called HAIRDRESSERS CONFESSIONS which was about women who confide their inmost secrets to their hairdressers, who assume a priestlike role.  Hermione sang a song called BEAUTY BEAUTY, a send-up of women's fitness campaigns.  She writes that SPIN is from this revue as well, and the programme confirms this, although the ALMANAC CD credits it as originating in STICKS AND STONES.  Hermione co-wrote it with Nicholas Phipps although the ALMANAC CD attributes it to Phillips-Wright (and the liner notes of the LA GINGOLD LP credit it to Nicholas Phipps and Geoffrey Wright).  Writing in REVUE (1962), Robert Baral recalls a skit about "a peddler of dirty postcards who starves because the magazines now flooding the newsstands are sexier than his outmoded wares."

I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of the programme for the first edition for me.  The lyrics/skits were written by Diana Morgan, Robert MacDermot, Nicholas Phipps, Gerard Bryant, Arthur Marshall, Reginald Beckwith, Peter Dion Titheradge, David Yates Mason and Hermione.  Music by Geoffrey Wright with additional numbers by Ronnie Hill.


Title Authors Roles Performers
1 Open the Show Words by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
The Company
2 Musical Snobs Words by Peter Dion Titheradge; music by Geoffrey Wright
Joan Swinstead, Jack McNaughton, David Evans
3 The Guardsman Words by Diana Morgan & Peter Dion Titheradge; music by Geoffrey Wright The Singer Kay Young



The Ouida Guardsman Michael Wilding



Meadows Jack McNaughton



Lady Dolly Joan Swinstead
4 Sick to Death of Love Words by Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright






5 The Power of the Press Words by Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright
The Company
6 Happy Ending Words by Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Ronnie Hill Miss Brown Joan Swinstead



Miss Jones Kay Young



Mr. Smith Walter Crisham
7 Beauty, Beauty Words by Hermione Gingold and Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
8 Interview with the President Words by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
9 Washing up to Shoobert Lyric by Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright; dialogue by Hermione Gingold Lily Kay Young



Doris Carole Lynne



Bert David Evans
10 Royal Occasion Reginald Beckwith
Joan Swinstead, Walter Crisham
11 A Smack at the Blacks Arthur Marshall & Charles Hughes; music by Geoffrey Wright Sentries Michael Wilding, David Evans



General Wellington Boote Jack McNaughton



Lieut. Roy Rightabout Walter Crisham



Blanche Hermione Gingold



Seedi Ben Nevis Michael Morice

Interval

12 We've Got You Taped Words by Peter Dion Titheradge; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Carole Lynne, Walter Crisham, Michael Wilding
13 The Bitzner Reginald Beckwith
Joan Swinstead
14 Wet Week-end Words by Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Ronnie Hill Host Jack McNaughton



Hostess Kay Young



The Guests Michael Wilding, Carole Lynne
15 Spin Words by Nicholas Phipps & Hermione Gingold; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
16 There Has Been a Slump Words by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
17 The Village Inn Words by Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright Giles Michael Wilding



George Jack McNaughton



Polly Carole Lynne



Percival David Evans



Belinda (old style) Muriel Byck



Belinda (new style) Eva Robertson



The Inn Keeper Michael Morice
18 All Smart Women Must Words by Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Michael Wilding
19 The Stage Family Robinson Words by Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright
Joan Swinstead, Jack McNaughton, Kay Young, Carole Lynne, David Evans
20 The Snowman Reginald Beckwith
David Evans, Michael Wilding, Jack McNaughton
21 The Busy Streets of London Words by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Kay Young
22 Epilogue in Vienna Music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham, Carole Lynne
23 Lost Property Words by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright The Attendant David Evans



The Caller Jack McNaughton
24 Holiday Hermione Gingold The Dressmaker Joan Swinstead



The Manicurist Hermione Gingold



The Salesman Michael Wilding



The Waitress Carole Lynne



The Fortune Teller Jack McNaughton
25 Dance Macabre Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
26 Only a Medium Medium Words by Eric Maschwitz & Charles Hickman; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Michael Wilding
27 A Tune to Take Away Words by David Yates Mason; music by Geoffrey Wright
Kay Young and the Company

I am indebted to Richard Mangan, Administrator of the Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson Theatre Collection, who kindly Xeroxed a copy of the programme for the second edition (1939) as well.  The lyrics/skits were written by Diana Morgan, Robert MacDermot, Nicholas Phipps, Gerard Bryant, , Reginald Beckwith, John Adrian Ross, David Yates Mason and Hermione.  Music by Geoffrey Wright with additional numbers by Charles Zwar and Ronnie Hill.  Two of the writers joined the cast:  Reginald Beckwith and Nicholas Phipps, who was cousin to Joyce Grenfell.   The second half opened with TATLER TIME as the cast sat on stools reading from current periodicals.  TRANSATLANTIC LULLABY was a showstopping hit.

I am indebted to Ray Stanley for the lyrics to MEDIUM, MEDIUM cowritten by Hermione and her then husband Eric Maschwitz (Ray tells me Hanan Swaffer was a much feared newspaper writer who dabbled in spiritualism).:
I was sitting at the window of my house - in Leinster Gardens
I was feeling just as lonely as a cloud;
When a knock came at the door
Like I'd never heard before,
So mysterious, I really felt quite cowed.
"Who is that?", I loudly cried.
Came reply: "Your spirit guide."
"But how nice of you to call
Hang your aura in the hall."

'Twas a lonely Indian brave
Who'd come hot foot from the grave
Come to cure my lonely ev'ning.
Come to cure my lonely spirits,
Cheer me with his kindly laughter
Tell me of the world hereafter.
And his cousin Hiawatha
Spirit guide to Hanan Swaffer.

Though I'm only a medium medium,
My goodness, the men that I've known.
What with giving seances
And falling in trances
I don't spend a night on my own.

I'm only a medium medium
For the famous I'm always in touch
I make certain rules,
For though ghouls will be ghouls--
I won't have them behaving as such,

I shall always remember the day
I went down to the country to spend.
It was on the East Coast
And my host was a ghost
Who was haunting the place for a friend.
I'm only a medium medium,
But his memory lives with me yet.
He remarked with a glance,
"Shall we sit out this trance?"
Then proceeded to pinch my planchette.

I'm only a medium medium
(But my fees are remarkably small)
Though my husband, deceased,
Left me nothing, the beast --
But his ouija and one crystal ball.
At times I'm quite the comedian
The life and the soul of our group.
I produced Louis III
From a hot cup of tea --
And Dracula out of thick soup.
And there's Frankenstein too,
(Such a nice spoken spook)
But I dread it each time he appears. . .
I don't like to object
But my carpet gets wrecked
For he will bring his monster, my dears.

I'm only a medium medium
I give myself plenty of scope
What with Byron to go for
And gay Casanova
While there's h'ectoplasm, there's hope.


Title Authors Roles Performers
1 Open the Gate Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
The Company
2 Seductio ad Absurdum Eric Maschwitz The Compere Cyril Butcher



The Father Derek Farr



The Mother Joan Swinstead



The Butler Nicholas Phipps



The Daughter Kay Young



The Son Walter Crisham
3 Sick to Death of Love Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
4 Happy Ending Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Ronnie Hill Miss Brown Joan Swinstead



Miss Jones Kay Young



Mr. Smith Walter Crisham
5 Mr. Phipps' Goldfish Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Nicholas Phipps
6 Beauty, Beauty Words by Hermione Gingold & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
7 Washing up to Schubert Lyric by Gerard Bryant; music by Geoffrey Wright Freda Doris Gilmore



Mitzi Carole Lynne



Bert Derek Farr
8 Danse Macabre Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
9 The Night is Warm Nicholas Phipps; music by Charles Zwar
Joan Swinstead, Nicholas Phipps
10 Conversation Piece Hermione Gingold; lyric by Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright Mrs. Pullpleasure Hermione Gingold



Mrs. Fishbother Reginald Beckwith
11 Kensington Girls Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Joan Swinstead, Gabrielle Brune, Kay Young
12 Transatlantic Lullaby Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
13 The Knockout Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright; dialogue by Reginald Beckwith
Hermione Gingold, Reginald Beckwith, Walter Crisham and the Company

Interval

14 Tatler Time Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Nicholas Phipps, Gabrielle Brune, Derek Farr, Doris Gilmore
15 Miss Swinstead's Morceau Nicholas Phipps; music by Charles Zwar
Joan Swinstead
16 You Stopped the Show John Adrian Ross; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham, Gabrielle Brune, Carole Lynne
17 The Sewing Bee Hermione Gingold & Charles Zwar; music by Charles Zwar
Hermione Gingold, Joan Swinstead, Kay Young
18 Faun in Manhattan Music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham, Gabrielle Brune
19 Only a Medium Medium Eric Maschwitz & Hermione Gingold; Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
20 The Girl in the Advertisement Arthur Marshall; music by Geoffrey Wright
Gabrielle Brune
21 All Smart Women Must Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Nicholas Phipps
22 Freedom of the Air Reginald Beckwith
Joan Swinstead, Reginald Beckwith, Nicholas Phipps, Cyril Butcher
23 My Heart is Marching Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Carole Lynne
24 Holiday Hermione Gingold The Dressmaker Joan Swinstead



The Manicurist Hermione Gingold



The Salesman Derek Farr



The Waitress Gabrielle Brune



The Fortune Teller Cyril Butcher
25 There's Been A Slump Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
26 Madame La Palma Hermione Gingold & Robert MacDermot
Hermione Gingold
27 The Bare Idea Reginald Beckwith The Visitor Reginald Beckwith



The Manager Nicholas Phipps



The Call Boy Derek Farr
28 Rejoice Nicholas Phipps & David Yates Mason; music by Geoffrey Wright
The Company

SWINGING THE GATE (1940) was the followup revue at the Ambassadors Theatre which opened on May 22, 1940 and ran 449 performances, forced to close early because of German bombing raids that disrupted traffic in London.  It starred Madge Elliott, Hermione and Peter Ustinov.  Hermione says in her autobiography it was for this revue that her soon-to-be-ex-husband Eric Maschwitz and Jack Strachey wrote QUEEN OF SONG for her.  Oh the ALMANAC CD itself, Hermione mentions this song is her favorite on the recording, but in her autobiography, she confesses her favorite was I SPY which she cowrote with Jack Strachey about the headmistress of a school for spies.  Ustinov wrote and performed a monologue called CONSTERNATION PIECE, and another called PROFESSOR HYPOKRITOFF.

SWINGING THE GATE

Title Authors Roles Performers
1 Swinging the Gate Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Roberta Huby & the Company
2 Let's Do an Intimate Revue Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Charles Zwar
Hedley Briggs, Guy Verney, Ronald Millar
3 The Warrior Returns Gerard Bryant; music by Charles Zwar Mother Madge Elliott



Children Roberta Huby, Ann Wheatley



Parker Peter Ustinov



Father Alan Sykes



Maid Elena Ray



Children Phillada Sewell, Alec Ross
4 Queen of Song Eric Maschwitz & Jack Strachey
Hermione Gingold
5 Home with the Dawn Gerard Bryant & Charles Zwar; music by Charles Zwar
Roberta Huby & Guy Verney
6 Unwillingly to School Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot Mrs. Winstanley Madge Elliott



Timothy Hedley Briggs



Potter Ronald Millar
7 The Country Faces It Gerald Bryant; music by Charles Zwar Her Ladyship Phillada Sewell



James Peter Ustinov
8 The Conquering Hero Hermione Gingold Mrs. Hawkins Madge Elliott



Cpl. Syd Hawkins Guy Verney



Ethel Hermione Gingold



Bert Ronald Millar



Willy Hedley Briggs
9 Consternation Piece Peter Ustinov
Peter Ustinov
10 Salome Wouldn't Dance Orford St. John; music by Charles Zwar Singer Alan Sykes



Salome Roberta Huby



Her Friend Hedley Briggs
11 La Grande Amoureuse Patrick White; music by Charles Zwar; dialogue by Hermine Gingold
Hermione Gingold & Guy Verney
12 We Knew Father Gerard Bryan; music by Charles Zwar
Roberta Huby, Hedley Briggs, Ann Wheatley
13 La Loge Gerard Bryant; music by Charles Zwar Woman Madge Elliott



Man Peter Ustinov
14 I Spy Hermione Gingold; music & lyric of "Moustaches" by Jack Strachey
Hermione Gingold & the Company

Interval

15 Breakfast in the Open Air Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Charles Zwar   The Company
16 South Coast Woman Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Madge Elliott, Phillada Sewell
17 Sur le Pont D'Avignon Musical arrangement Charles Zwar
Roberta Huby, Hedley Briggs, Ann Wheatley  



Singer Alan Sykes
18 The Bacchante Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright; dialogue by Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold & Guy Verney
19 First Night Charles Hickman; music by Charles Zwar
Madge Elliott, Roberta Huby, Ann Wheatley, Alan Sykes, Ronald Millar, Guy Verney, Phillada Sewell
20 Professor Hypokritoff
Peter Ustinov Peter Ustinov
21 Riding in the Row Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Harry Jacobson
Roberta Huby
22 Orient Express Orford St. John Miss Ninnavy Hermione Gingold



Mrs. Merger Hedley Briggs
23 The Moon and You Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot; music by Geoffrey Wright
Madge Elliott & Guy Verney
24 La Gioconda Lyric & music by Charles Zwar; dialogue by Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold
25 Robert Helpman


26 Finale Diana Morgan & Robert MacDermot
The Company

RISE ABOVE IT (1941) followed at the Q Theatre with music and lyrics by Leslie Julian Jones.  When it opened Hermione was not in the cast, which included Henry Kendall, Hermione Baddeley, Joan Greenwood, Wilfred Hyde-White and Frith Banbury.  It moved to the Comedy Theatre on June 5, 1941 when Hermione joined the cast which then included Walter Crisham, Henry Kendall, Prudence Hyman, Hermione Baddeley and Wilfred Hyde-White.  It ran for 236 performances.  A second edition opened in December 1941 with almost the same cast and ran for a further 144 performances.  This is the second revue Hermione did with Walter Crisham.  I am indebted to Ray Stanley of Australia for all these details.  Hermione's favorite sketch in this was UNDER THEIR HATS written by Denis Waldock.  In it, Hermione G and Hermione B played two self-centered old dowagers trying on a variety of hideous hats in a millinery shop as they kept up a banter of silly gossip about themselves and the war.  In addition, Hermione performed a monologue she wrote called  MUSIC TALK about an actual piece of music called GRASSHOPPER DANCE.  This was a pompous pseudointellectual "talk on mewsick" (music).  I've acquired the March, 1942 issue of THEATRE WORLD and learned of other items in the second edition:

SKY HIGH (1942)  This opened June 4, 1942 at the Phoenix Theatre and ran for 149 performances.  It starred Hermione Baddeley, Hermione Gingold, Water Crisham, Naunton Wayne and Elisabeth Welch.   This is the third revue Hermione did with Walter Crisham.  In her autobiography, Hermione says she wrote BICYCLING for THE GATE REVUE but it first appears in SPREAD IT ABROAD (1936) and was about a cycling enthusiast who instructs the audience how to make their own bicycles.  The song WHICH WITCH? on the ALMANAC CD came from this revue.  I am indebted to Ray Stanley of Australia for lending me the programme:

SKY HIGH

Title Authors Roles Performers
1 Meet a Body Alan Melville
The Company
2 If I Could Write a Hit Song Adrian Foley, David Heneker
Hilary Allen, Douglas Orr and the Girls
3 Do it Again

Zoe Gail, George Carden
4 Mid-Day Star Denis Waldock
Hermione Baddeley, Naunton Wayne, Phyllis Pearce, Betty Hare, Lulu Dukes
5 Bicycling Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold
6 Arena Music composed by Edythe Baker The  Matador Walter Crisham



The Dancer Prudence Hyman



The Dresser George Carden
7 Bleeding Heart J.P. Long & Will E. Haines
Hermione Baddeley
8 Paddle-Boat Dream Prologue by Nina Warner Hooke
The Company


Day on the River by George Posford &  Harold Purcell



Regatta by Ronnie HIll & Peter Dion Titherage

Interval

9 Period Pieces Ronnie Hill & Peter Dion Titherage
Zoe Gail, Hilary Allen
10 Strawberries and Cream
Walter Crisham, George Gower
11 Speak As You Read Douglas Furber
Hermione Gingold, Naunton Wayne, George Gower
12 Reprieve

Hermione Baddeley
13 Broadway Slave Nina Warner Hooke & Edward Horan
Elisabeth Welch, George Carden
14 The Norwood Nightingale George Posford & Harold Purcell
Walter Crisham
15 Mermaids Alan Melville
Hermione Baddeley, Hermione Gingold and the Girls
16 Russian Blackout

Naunton Wayne, Betty Hare
17 New Blue in Your Eyes David Heneker & Gerald Bryant
Zoe Gail, George Carden and the Girls
18 'Neath Tropic Skies Dennis Waldock
Hermione Baddeley, Walter Crisham, Betty Hare
19 Which Witch? Alan Melville & Charles Zwar
Hermione Gingold
20 Which Way the Wind Blew Adrian Foley & Phil Park
Walter Crisham, Prudence Hyman, Zoe Gail, Phyllis Pearce
21 Park Meeting Nina Warner Hooke
Hermione Baddeley, Hermione Gingold
22 Europa Nicholas Phipps & Geoffrey Wright
Elisabeth Welch
23 Coupons

Naunton Wayne, Phyllis Pearce, George Gower
24 Irish Scena, 1942 Alan Melville & Jack Strachey
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Betty Hare, George Carden
25 Finale Alan Melville & Jack Strachey
The Company

I am grateful to Kenneth H. Holmes who Xeroxed pages from the August 1942 THEATRE WORLD for me.  MEET A BODY involved the two Hermiones, Walter Crisham, Naunton Wayne, Elizabeth Welch and Zoe Gail being questioned by a policeman (George Gower) about a corpse which is none other than that of the Opening Chorus.

PARK MEETING involved the two Hermiones seen as two women who meet casually on a park bench and unfold with infinite pathos the story of their lives.  Hermione Gingold would resurrect this sketch in America to good reviews.

MERMAIDS saw the two Hermiones as a couple of bizarre mermaids on the look-out for naval prey "in a sketch that is a riot from beginning to end".

THE NORWOOD NIGHTINGALE saw Walter Crisham as a choirboy, somewhat peeved because his voice has just broken.


There followed the "Sweet" revues, in three versions, that ran through the end of World War II.  The second and particularly the third were substantially written by Alan Melville and all three were directed by Charles Hickman.

SWEET AND LOW (1943) opened at the Ambassadors Theatre on June 10, 1943 and ran for 264 performances.  It contained THE BORGIA ORGY (which Hermione maintains was written by John Jowett, although the ALMANAC CD credits it to "Lowitt".  Though the kindness of Glenn Atchison, who sent me the programme to SWEETER AND LOWER, I can confirm that John Jowett wrote the lyric to music by Robert Gordon). This is the fourth revue Hermione did with Walter Crisham.

In VALHALLA, Hermione was dressed like Brunhilde and sang "Ambassadors toasted my fatal allure; and Hindenburg chased me all over the Ruhr", concluding that "Valhalla is not the same."  In MISS GINGOLD'S FRIEND, Hermione sang about Hermione Baddeley:  "I do miss Hermione badly, The show isn't really the same:  I sit in my room just before we begin; and imagine her back again, swiping my gin."  In MISS GINGOLD'S OTHER FRIEND, Hermione sang to her faithful hot water bottle, "Let Me Run to You".  In HELL'S A-PUMPIN (a takeoff on the revue Hellzapoppin) Hermione, dressed as an A.R.P-minded Carmen Miranda, sang:  "Is your stirrup pump still working, Colonel Hop-hop-hop-hop-Hopkins?   It's a long, long, long time since we had a blitz."   My friend John Groushko informs me that A.R.P. stands for Air Raid Precautions and officials called ARP Wardens used to patrol during WWII and ensure that the blackout was enforced so that no lights would be visible from the air at night.

The revue included a "swing" version of OTHELLO with the lyric:  "Now they're as happy as a trio can be And they're booked up till the Spring:  And they're pulling down the houses Doing the Moorish Swing."  The ARSENIC AND OLD SHOWS sketch, which Hermione wrote, was a takeoff on ARSENIC AND OLD LACE currently playing in London.

POISON IVY was meant to take place at the famous Ivy restaurant where Henry Kendall and Hermione made brilliantly bitchy remarks about all the West End stars who used to frequent the place.

Numbers which appeared in more than one of the SWEET revues include BORGIA ORGY, IVAN IVANOVITCH, POISON IVY and CLIPPIE.  CLIPPIE was about a London war-time bus conductress; Brenda Bruce sang:  "So I'm quite glad that I'm a Clippie, Though my feet aren't, I'll admit, Though you do feel you're a part Of . . . well . . . London's heart And there's ever such a lot of it."  I am indebted to Ray Stanley of Australia for lending me the programme:  

SWEET AND LOW Directed by Charles Hickman

Title Authors Roles Performers
1 The Cuckoo Went Cuckoo Hubert Gregg
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham and the Company
2 Give Me Back My Rhythm Leslie Julian Jones
Edna Wood and Bonar Colleano
3 Holidays at Home Dennis Waldock & Clifford Davis Dad Graham Penley



Mum Ilena Sylva



Edie Brenda Bruce



Johnny Richard Curnock
4 Miss Gingold's Friend Lyric by Alan Melville; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold
5 Our Hero Eric Maschwitz & Denis Waldock
Walter Crisham
6 Hotel Piece John Jowett & Robert Gordon
Edna Wood
7 What Shall I Wear? Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold
8 Shooting Star Leslie Julian Jones
Edna Wood, Graham Penley, Ilena Sylva, Bonar Colleano, Brenda Bruce, Richard Curnock, Denise de Brie, Mary Irwin, Pauline Fraser
9 Borgia Orgy Lyric by John Jowett; music by Robert Gordon
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Ilena Sylva, Bonar Colleano
10 Clippie Lyric by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Brenda Bruce
11 Floor Over the Top Floor Lyric by Eric Maschwitz; music by Jack Strachey
Edna Wood, Bonar Colleano
12 Miss Gingold's Other Friend "Let me run to you" by Alastair Thomson
Hermione Gingold
13 Sea Piece Lyric by Nicholas Phipps; music by Geoffrey Wright
Walter Crisham
14 Mr. Colleano's Message Sid Collin and Charles Hickman
(no one credited! but presumably Bonar Colleano)
15 Othello Leslie Julian Jones Desdemona Hermione Gingold



Iago Walter Crisham



Othello Bonar Colleano

Part Two

1 Ivan Ivanovitch Lyric by Irving leRoy; music by Robert Dale
Bonar Colleano, Denise de Brie, Pauline Fraser, Richard Curnock, Graham Penley
2 Poison Ivy Denis Waldock
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham
3 I'm Bewildered Lyric and Music by Richard Hurran
Edna Wood
4 Grand Central Billy Rose & Peter Albrett
Hermione Gingold and Bonar Colleano
5 Arsenic and Old Shows Hermione Gingold Mary Brenda Bruce



Greta Edna Wood



Lillian Hermione Gingold



Nanette Mary Irwin



The Vagabond King Richard Curnock



The Merry Widow Ilena Sylva



Mme. Natalia Walter Crisham
6 Oh, Miss Dixey! Lyric by Diana Morrison & John Ellison; music by Basil Hempseed
Mary Irwin, Yvonne Jacques, Pauline Fraser
7 Valhalla Lyric by Nina Warner Hooke; music by Jack Strachey
Hermione Gingold
8 Vigil Lyric by Nicholas Phipps; music by Leslie Julian Jones
Brenda Bruce
9 No!  No! Billy Milton
Walter Crisham, Yvonne Jaques
10 Biking in Bloomers Lyric by Harold Purcell; music by George Posford
Edna Wood, Brenda Bruce
11 Hell's a-Pumpin' Leslie Julian Jones
Hermione Gingold
12 Parliament Square Nicholas Phipps
Walter Crisham
13 Finale Leslie Julian Jones
The Company

SWEETER AND LOWER (1944) opened at the Ambassadors Theatre on February 17, 1944 and ran for 870 performances.  I am indebted to Glenn Atchison of Etobicoke, Ontario for sending me a copy of the SWEETER AND LOWER programme.   It is fascinating as a historical document of the World War II years.  Instead of being the size of a regular British theatrical programme, it is only 5 inches by 3 3/4 inches, no doubt reflecting the paper shortages of that time of austerity.  A notice in the back of the program says If an Air Raid Warning is received during the performance the audience will be informed from the Stage.  Those desiring to leave the Theatre may do so, but the performance will continue.  The nearest Shelter will be given by the Attendants.   Details of the show emerged from a May, 1944 THEATRE WORLD:

Have you met Society's pet
The Queen of the livery stable,
The horse that men bow to
That Princes kowtow to,
The filly that's know as Mabel?

SWEETER AND LOWER consisted of 27 items:

SWEETER AND LOWER Directed by Charles Hickman

Title

Authors

Performers

1 Times Have Changed Hermione Gingold and Bernard Winter
Lyric by Nicholas Phipps, Music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendell and Company
2 Poor Cinderella Charles Gaynor Edna Wood, George Carden, Richard Curnock
3 Perchance to Dream Alan Melville Henry Kendall, Ilena Sylva
4 Miss Gingold's Advice to the Players Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Charles Zwar Hermione Gingold
5 The Reckoning Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Geoffrey Wright Henry Kendall, Christopher Hewett
6 Hotel Piece Lyric by John Jowett, Music by Robert Gordon Edna Wood
7 Health Talk Hermione Gingold Hermione Gingold
8 Am I In Love? Lyric by Ian Grant, Music by Arthur Young) Ballet Music by Clarry Ashton Edna Wood, George Carden and Girls
9 Borgia Orgy Lyric by John Jowett, Music by Robert Gordon Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendall, Ilena Sylva, Richard Curnock
10 Clippie Lyric by Nicholas Phipps, Music by Geoffrey Wright Gretchen Franklin, Christopher Hewett
11 'Cello Solo Lyric by Leslie Julian Jones, Music by Charles Zwar Hermione Gingold
12 Low-Down on Whittington Alan Melville Henry Kendell, George Carden
13 Thanks, Yanks Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Geoffrey Wright Hermione Gingold and Company

Intermission

14 Ivan Ivanovitch Lyric by Irving leRoy, Music by Robert Dale George Carden, Richard Curnock, Christopher Hewett, Pauline Fraser, Olive Wright
15 Poison Ivy Dennis Waldock Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendall
16 Chasing Rainbows Lyric by Nicholas Phipps, Music by Charles Zwar George Carden
16 Mr. Lunt's Back Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Geoffrey Wright George Carden
17 Mabel Charles Gaynor Hermione Gingold, Ilena Sylva, Henry Kendall, Richard Curnock
18 I'm Bewildered Richard Hurran Edna Wood
19 Wall-Flowers Lyric by Nicholas Phipps, Music by Geoffrey Wright Mary Irwin, Pauline Fraser, Olive Wright
20 Vienna Lingers On Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Charles Zwar, Dialogue by Hermione Gingold Hermione Gingold, Christopher Hewett, Richard Curnock
21 Beauties of Bath Lyric by Nicholas Phipps, Music by Geoffrey Wright Edna Wood, Gretchen Franklin
22 Services Rendered Alan Melville Hermione Gingold (as Charmaine), Henry Kendall, Gretchen Franklin
23 Rendezvous Lyric by Alan Melville, Music by Clarry Ashton Richard Curnock
24 Mr. Harding Lyric by Anthony Page and David Heneker, Music by Arthur Young Edna Wood, Gretchen Franklin, George Carden, Christopher Hewett and Girls
25 Port of Call Nicholas Phipps Henry Kendall
26 Hell's a Pumpin' Leslie Julian Jones Hermione Gingold
27 Finale Leslie Julian Jones The Company

A March 25, 1944 review of SWEETER AND LOWER in the Christian Science Monitor says:  "Miss Gingold has a magnificent evening, a night out, a field day.  Nothing is safe from her satire:  Home Guards, Mr. Robert Helpmann--the ballet dancer who is now playing Hamlet at the New Theatre--elderly lady lecturers, Mr. Ivor Novello's romantic Viennese operettas, even those other experts in venom the Borgias, come within the orbit of her lively and corroding flame.  She has never been seen in more lashing form, or more dashing temper.  The best item in the show is still that eminent conversation-piece, POISON IVY, in which Miss Gingold and Mr. Henry Kendall sit at a table in London's most talked of theatrical restaurant and discuss the other diners.  Their tongues are sharper than a serpent's tooth or a child's ingratitude.  "Look", exclaims Mr. Kendall, "there's Florence Desmond doing her imitation of John Gielgud."  Then he looks again and adds in surprised tones, "No, it is John Gielgud."

SWEETEST AND LOWEST (1946) was the third and final edition.  It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre May 9, 1946 and ran for 791 performances.  Hermione in her autobiography claimed it played to 800,000 people over 1,676 performances, but she must be aggregating the three SWEET revues, which actually total 1,925 performances.  According to the 1971 book REVUE by Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, the SWEET revues ran from 1943 to 1947 and became an institution, making the names of Alan Melville and Charles Zwar.  For this third edition, Hermione wrote a monologue called MOTHER INDIA, a mock imperialistic talk delivered by herself in black velvet and pearls with all the authority of one who has spent two weeks in Delhi.  In her autobiography, Hermione recalls a skit called YOUNG WOODLEY'S SON written by Melville for a man but Hermione took it over, dressed as an evil little boy in an Eton suit. According to Ray Stanley, this is called HEREDITY in the programme.  Ray further informs me that YOUNG WOODLEY was a famous play of the '20s by John Van Druten about a schoolboy expelled for having an affair with the wife of one of the masters.   She also recalled a skit called PICASSO (listed in the programme below as SELF-PORTRAIT), an Alan Melville sendup of modern art in which Hermione played an unhappy multicolored female lumbered with two extra limbs and with an outsize fishbone impaled on her head.

SWEETEST AND LOWEST consisted of 28 items:
SWEETEST AND LOWEST Directed by Charles Hickman

Title Authors Performers
1 Prologue Alan Melville Hermione Gingold
2 Fencing for an Opening Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendall and Company
3 Swing Bridge Melville and Zwar Roma Milne, Gordon Humphris, Richard Curnock
4 Long Lie Alan Melville Henry Kendall, Olive Wright
5 Self-Portrait Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold
6 Bubbles Melville and Zwar Henry Kendall
7 Noel, Noel Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold, Christopher Hewett and Girls
8 Brown Studies Music by Charles Zwar Barbara Barrie, Gordon Humphris and the Girls
9 Film Foursome Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold, Olive Wright, Richard Curnock, Christopher Hewett
10 Days of Daly's Melville and Zwar Henry Kendall and Girls
11 Last To Get Out Melville and Zwar Gretchen Franklin
12 A Marriage Has Been Well Arranged Melville and Zwar Olive Wright, Barbara Barrie, Julie Stafford, Pam Travers and Monica Mallory
13 Mother India Hermione Gingold Hermione Gingold
14 Pantomime--Return Visit Melville and Zwar Henry Kendall, Gordon Humphris
15 It's that Finale Again Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold, Roma Milne, Gretchen Franklin, Olive Wright, Henry Kendall, Gordon Humphris, Richard Curnock, Christopher Hewett, John Denis and Girls

Part II

16 Fit for Eros Melville and Zwar Roma Milne, Gordon Humphris, Gretchen Franklin, Olive Wright, Julie Stafford, Richard Curnock, Christopher Hewett, Pam Travers, Monica Mallory
17 Absolute Hell Alan Melville Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendall
18 "1851" Lyrics by Herbert Farjeon, Music by Charles Zwar Roma Milne, Gretchen Franklin, Doreen Farmer
19 Heredity Alan Melville Hermione Gingold
20 Dance Arrangement Music by Charles Zwar Gordon Humphris
21 Sea Shanty Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold, Julie Stafford, Pam Travers, Monica Mallory
22 Etchings Melville and Zwar Olive Wright
23 Services Rendered Anew Alan Melville Hermione Gingold, Henry Kendall, Gretchen Franklin
24 Appeal Alan Melville and Clary Ashton Richard Curnock
25 Amo, Amas Melville and Zwar Roma Milne, Gordon Humphris, Gretchen Franklin, Olive Wright, Richard Curnock and Girls
26 Initiative Alan Melville Henry Kendall, Gretchen Franklin
27 Sheet Music Melville and Zwar Hermione Gingold
28 What Next? Melville and Zwar The Company

In his autobiography, Henry Kendall wrote about the closing performance where the audience "knew every number and every gag by heart, and almost played the revue for us.  On that last night, we introduced all sorts of little bits of business which the Lord Chamberlain certainly would never have permitted.  For instance, in my UP IN THE MORNING EARLY bedroom sketch, Ilena Sylva, who played my wife, was discovered lying in bed in a flimsy nightdress and a pair of Wellington boots, and as the Duchess in the box at the pantomime, I produced a bottle of gin, a hot water bottle, and a toilet article not often seen in public.  People popped on and off in sketches they had never previously appeared in, and in the finale of the first part, Wally Crisham suddenly appeared as one of the French girls and danced a can-can.  In this scene I was a majestic Britannia on a throne supported by the Allies, and it culminated in a concerted rush by the entire company which took me at my word when I sang 'Cling around my breasts, my Empire wide', and toppled me off my throne upside down, exposing two hairy masculine legs!"

In his autobiography, Melville wrote:  The greatest lyric-writers of the past half-century are Coward and [Herbert] Farjeon.  In his revue SIGH NO MORE, Coward wrote a brilliant lyric called 'Nina'; it was about a lady from Argentina who was mad about dancing the samba and fell in love with a sailor with a wooden leg.  As well as being very funny, it was filled to capacity with double and triple rhymes; it had such a verbal rhythm to it that it hardly needed music; I envied it.  (This number was sung in SIGH NO MORE by Cyril Ritchard.)  We were just about to do the third of the Ambassadors revues; there had been a great deal of chat about the Master's wartime activities; he was alleged, while touring all over the place for E.N.S.A.  (Entertainments National Service Association which was set up to provide drama, cinema and musical entertainment to the troops at home and abroad during WWII.), to be doing highly important work for the Government, or just plain, common-or-garden spying; the subject seemed yelling out to be dealt with in lyric form and I was determined to attempt the same sort of rhyming and rhythm that Noel had done in his own revue. The number was written for Henry Kendall; in the end, I need hardly say, it was performed-brilliantly, again, I have to admit, by Hermione Gingold. It was called simply ...

NOEL NOEL (by Alan Melville) NINA (by Noel Coward)
When Europe was attacked and overpowered,
Mr. Coward,
Though ostensibly performing just for E.N.S.A.
Was asked by Mr. Churchill to commence a
Diplomatic tour to save the British Raj.
Through his efforts, Fascist plots in West Australia
Proved quite a failure
And while entertaining troops in Kuala Lumpur
He shoved several secret papers up his jumper
And escaped to Indo-China on a barge.
Humming tunes from Bitter Sweet, he
Parachuted to Tahiti
Where he ratified a treaty
For manganese and chives;
Then, disguised as Mr. Eden,
He was smuggled into Sweden
And adroitly played the lead in
SABOTAGE and PRIVATE LIVES.

After lecturing the natives of Uganda
As propaganda
He met-while having tea with Marshal Tito-
A female spy who worked for Hirohito
And in his role
Of Britain's best ambassador
He made a shocking pass at her,
And Noel
Succeeded even with de Gaulle.

In a dressing-gown quite exquisitely flowered,
Mr. Coward
At the conferences which be daily sat on
Advised both Eisenhower and Mountbatten
On the private habits of the lower decks.
After turning up at G.H.Q. in Kandy
Disguised as Ghandi,
And retrieving missing papers from a taxi
Where they'd stupidly been left by Halifax, he
Gave a lecture to the R.A.F. on sex.
He escaped from Casablanca
On a rather sordid tanker
Which eventually dropped anchor
In the Duodecanese;
He created quite a flutter
By his comments on Calcutta,
Where he found the boredom utter
And had prickly heat and fleas.
He recovered stolen plans of Messrs. Vickers
From someone's knickers;
As an agent he was certainly no novice
But he found that working for the Foreign Office
Was quite a bore:
With Eden, life was Heaven there;
But on finding Ernest Bevin there
He swore
That he would spy no more.

Senorita Nina
From Argentina
Knew all the answers,
Although her relatives and friends were perfect dancers
She swore she'd never dance a step until she died.
She said, 'I've seen too many movies
And all they prove is
Too idiotic,
They all insist that South America's exotic
Whereas it couldn't be more boring if it tried.

She added firmly that she hated
The sound of soft guitars beside a still lagoon,
She also positively stated
That she could not abide a Southern Moon,
She said with most refreshing candour
That she thought Carmen Miranda
Was subversive propaganda
And should rapidly be shot,
She said she didn't care a jot
If people quoted her or not!

She refused to begin the Beguine
When they requested it
And she made an embarrassing scene
If anyone suggested it
For she detested it.
Though no one ever could be keener
Than little Nina
On quite a number
Of very eligible men who did the Rumba
When they proposed to her she simply left them flat.
She said that love should be impulsive
But not convulsive
And syncopation
Has a discouraging effect on procreation
And that she'd rather read a hook-and that was that!

Senorita Nina
From Argentina
Despised the Tango
And though she never was a girl to let a man go
She wouldn't sacrifice her principles for sex.
She looked with scorn on the gyrations
Of her relations
Who danced the Conga
And swore that if she had to stand it any longer
She'd lose all dignity and wring their silly necks!

She said that frankly she was blinded
To all their over-advertised romantic charms
And then she got more bloody-minded
And told them where to put their tropic
palms.
She said I hate to be pedantic
But it drives me nearly frantic
When I see that unromantic
Sycophantic
Lot of sluts
For ever wriggling their guts,
It drives me absolutely nuts!
She declined to begin the Beguine
Though they besought her to
And in language profane and obscene
She cursed the man who taught her to,
She cursed Cole Porter too!

From this it's fairly clear that Nina
In her demeanour
Was so offensive
That when the hatred of her friends grew too intensive
She thought she'd better beat it while she had the chance.
After some trial and tribulation
She reached the station
And met a sailor
Who had acquired a wooden leg in Venezuela
And so she married him because he couldn’t dance!

There surely never could have been a
More irritating girl than Nina,
They never speak in Argentina
Of this degenerate bambina
Who had the luck to find romance
But resolutely wouldn't dance!
She wouldn't dance! Hola!!

The finale from SWEETEST AND LOWEST written by Melville and sung by Hermione was:

What next?
How best to end the show?
What next?
Nobody seems to know.
Should we be rather glamorous or amorous or what?
Conclude the thing satirically or lyrically, or not?
What next?
Before the curtain falls--
What next?
Before those curtain calls--
In dealing with the future we're uncertain;
The only thing that's certain
Is the curtain.

In later years, Melville wrote about Hermione:  I speak in very real gratitude when I say that an author lucky enough to write for Hermione knows that however good a line he might give her, some unexpected bonus will be added to make it sound better . . . a leer, a mangling of pronunciation, a signalled implication of double-entendre.  She could, when occasion demanded it, persuade an audience that she was glamorous, even beautiful; and she had the true artist's gift after making a packed house weak with laughing, of being able to still it in seconds when a touch of pathos was called for.

SLINGS AND ARROWS (1948) This opened November 1948 at the Comedy Theatre.  It was devised by Charles Hickman and Hermione.  Some of items included:

 I am indebted to Ray Stanley of Australia for lending me the programme from which the following list of sketches and songs was copied:

SLINGS AND ARROWS Directed by Charles Hickman

Title Author Roles Performers
1 Opening:  Morning, Noon and Night Leslie Julian Jones Dressmaker John Hewer



Client Gwen Cherrell



Morning Monica Mallory, Wallas Eaton, Robert Bishop, Diana Maddox, Byfield Riches, Kathleen Stuart



Noon Gretchen Franklin, Laurel Grey, Christopher Hewett, Charlotte Bidmead, Pamela Kail



Night Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham
2 Scandal on the Sabbath Peter Myers; Music by Norman Dannett
Diana Maddox, Gwen Cherrell, Monica Mallory, Laurel Grey, Kathleen Stuart
3 British Way Kathleen Dear Commere Kathleen Stuart


Part 1

Father Walter Crisham



Mother Charlotte Bidmead



Butler Wallas Eaton



Son Christopher Hewett



Young Woman Monica Mallory


Part 2

Mother Gretchen Franklin



Daughter Gwen Cherrell



Son Byfield Riches



Father Walter Crisham
4 Talk on Music Hermione Gingold
Hermione Gingold
5 On the Through Choo-Choo to Crewe Leslie Julian Jones
Walter Crisham
6 Sit Down a Minute Medea Arthur Macrae Women of Corinth Christopher Hewett, Laurel Grey, Kathleen Stuart



Nurse Charlotte Bidmead



Medea Hermione Gingold



Jason Robert Bishop



Messenger Wallas Eaton
7 Have you Seen the Crystal Place? Leslie Julian Jones
Walter Crisham, Gretchen Franklin
8 Mediaeval Spivs Leslie Julian Jones
Christopher Hewett, Wallas Eaton, John Hewer
9 Wolf Cubs Peter Myers; music by permission of Lawrence Wright
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham
10 Scottish Lament Leslie Julian Jones
Diana Maddox, Gretchen Franklin, Laurel Grey, Christopher Hewett, John Hewer, Byfield Riches
11 Gardeners All Caryl Brahms, Music by Leslie Julian Jones
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Wallas Eaton, Pamela Kail, Robert Bishop
12 Shoes and Stockings Philip Dale; Music by Harry Jacobson
Gretchen Franklin
13 Masseuse Lionel Harris and Peter Myers; Music by Norman Dannett
Hermione Gingold
14 Send Me Back to Naples Leslie Julian Jones
Walter Crisham, Gwen Cherrell
15 Bless the Show Leslie Julian Jones
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham and Company

Interval

1 Sunday Afternoon Peter Myers; Music by Norman Dannett Young Ladies Charlotte Bidmead, Pamela Kail, Monica Mallory, Diana Maddox



Young Men Christopher Hewett, John Hewer, Byfield Riches, Robert Bishop



Children Gretchen Franklin, Gwen Cherrell, Laurel Grey, Kathleen Stuart
2 The Gods Look Down Peter Myers
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, Gretchen Franklin, Wallas Eaton, Christopher Hewett, Laurel Grey, Monica Mallory, Kathleen Stuart, Byfield Riches, Gwen Cherrell
3 Thanks Mr. Rank Sandy Wilson
Diana Maddox
4 Rita Raven Cliff Gordon; music by Cliff Gordon and Stanley Black
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham, John Hewer
5 Pet Aversion Gretchen Franklin; music by Jack Strachey
Gretchen Franklin
6 Come for a Bathe at Brighton Sandy Wilson; music by Geoffrey Wright
Hermione Gingold and the Boys
7 What of the Night? Sandy Wilson
Wallas Eaton
8 Twilight in the Tuilleries George Wood The Man Walter Crisham



The Woman Charlotte Bidmead



The Girl Pamela Kail



Other Characters Gwen Cherrell, Laurel Grey, Monica Mallory, Kathleen Stuart, John Hewer
9 Visitors Welcome Peter Myers; music by Norman Dannett
Christopher Hewett
10 Medusa Sandy Wilson
Hermione Gingold
11 "And to Hell--" Leslie Julian Jones
Walter Crisham and the Girls
12 Forever England Barbara Vereker Part 1 Christopher Hewett, John Hewer, Byfield Riches



Part 2 Hermione Gingold, Wallas Eaton
13 Butterfly in the Rain Leslie Julian Jones
Walter Crisham
14 Blanchisseuse Heureuse Arthur Macrae; music by Harry Jacobson
Hermione Gingold
15 Flower Show Leslie Julian Jones
Hermione Gingold, Walter Crisham and the Company

In fact, thanks to Ray Stanley, I have two versions of the SLINGS AND ARROWS programme, which give an interesting insight into how the running order of revues was fluid, in an effort to get the maximum effect to the overall show:

SLINGS AND ARROWS Alternate Programme

Title Authors Role Performers
1 Opening:  Morning, Noon and Night


2 Scandal on the Sabbath


3 British Way


4 General Knowledge Peter Myers, music by Harry Jacobson
Hermione Gingold
5 I Bought a Mountain Leslie Julian Jones and Virginia Winter
Walter Crisham
6 Sit Down a Minute Medea


7 Taken as Red Sandy Wilson
Gwen Cherrell
8 Puir Wee Lass Andrew Crawford; music by Clarry Ashton
Diana Maddox, Gretchen Franklin, Laurel Grey, Christopher Hewett, John Hewer, Byfield Riches
9 Symphony of Love Peter Myers
Walter Crisham, Monica Mallory, Robert Bishop
10 Lovely Day Philip Loftus; music by Leslie Julian Jones
Hermione Gingold, Christopher Hewett, Wallas Eaton
11 Botticelli Angel Simon Phipps; music by Geoffrey Beaumont
Laurel Grey
12 Late Pass Peter Myers; music by Norman Dannett Sailor John Hewer



Girl Monica Mallory



A.T.S. Dina Maddox



Husband Wallas Eaton



Officer Byfield Riches



Girl Pamela Kail
13 Wolf Cubs


14 Pet Aversion


15 Masseuse


16 Send Me Back to Naples


17 Bless the Show


Interval

1 Sunday Afternoon


2 The Gods Look Down


3 Thanks Mr. Rank


4 Gardeners All


5 All My Own Work Barbara Vereker; music Harry Jacobson
Gretchen Franklin
6 Butterfly in the Rain


7 Come for a Bathe At Brighton


8 Creeps Michael Bryan; music by Harry Jacobson
Wallas Eaton
9 Twilight at the Tuilleries


10 Blanchisseuse Heureuse


11 Menu Peter Myers; music by Harry Jacobson
Christopher Hewitt
12 "And to Hell--"


13 Forever England


14 Mrs. Weaver's Beaver Muff John Jowitt; music by Harry Jacobson
Gretchen Franklin, Laurel Grey, Byfield Riches
15 Rita Raven


16 Flower Show


IT'S ABOUT TIME (1951) - This revue was Hermione's American debut.  It opened March, 1951 at the Brattle Theatre, in Cambridge, MA.  In addition to Hermione, the cast included Ronnie Graham, Don Liberto, Patricia Bybell, Kay Coulter, Marla Stevens, Peter Hamilton, Bill Shirley, Vera Lee, Lee Murray, Murray Matheson, Jennie Lou Law, Bob Gallagher and Patricia Jenning.  It was directed by Hermione's old revue co-star Walter Crisham.  The items included THE RAFT, MUSIC TALK (written by Hermione), TAPESTRY PIECE, BORGIA ORGY, SOUVENIRS, I AND THE KING (Music by Marie Gordon; lyrics by Hermione and David Rogers).

MUSIC TALK was written by Hermione for RISE ABOVE IT (1941) about a real piece of music called GRASSHOPPER DANCE; it was a pompous pseudointellectual "talk on mewsick".

TAPESTRY PIECE was written by Reginald Beckwith for RISE ABOVE IT (1941).  A contemporary reviewer wrote of her "mediaeval lady working into her tapestry 'all the news that's fit to weave', a play on the motto of the NEW YORK TIMES which is "all the news that's fit to print".

The BORGIA ORGY is from SWEET AND LOW (1943) and is available on the ALMANAC CD.

I AND THE KING was a parody of THE KING AND I, in which Hermione played Anna and Ronnie Graham played the King.

A contemporary review of this show reveals many additional items, singling out Hermione being hilarious as "the chatty old lady drinking port on the railroad train and the bored masseuse [and] the female but hardly feminine old salt".

The railroad train skit sounds like EUROPEAN EXPRESS, which is on the ALMANAC CD and was originally called ORIENT EXPRESS in the SWINGING THE GATE revue (1940).

The bored masseuse sketch is probably MASSEUSE written by Peter Myers for SLINGS AND ARROWS (1948).

CAFÉ DE PARIS (1953), a cabaret written by Clarry Ashton and Miles Rudge, opened June, 1953.

When Hermione came to America, she wanted to make her stage debut in a revue, but she had to audition for the Theatre Guild and her regular pianist, Clarry Ashton, was in London. Her boyfriend at the time, who was a classical musician, offered to accompany her, but he was not familiar with the material and the audition was a disaster. She claims it was for this reason she recorded the LP LA GINGOLD in 1955 (from which all the Hermione numbers on the ALMANAC CD originate), so that it would serve as her audition piece. In addition, while she was in London appearing at Café de Paris, she recorded a single with Gilbert Harding; on one side was IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO and on the flip side was a musical version of Little Red Riding Hood called OH, GRANDMA.

JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON'S ALMANAC (1953) For details, click here.  This was Hermione's Broadway debut at the Imperial Theatre, December 10, 1953. Some information from that webpage that pertains solely to Hermione follows:

Writing in AMERICAN MUSICAL REVUE (1985 Oxford University Press), Gerald Boardman notes Hermione Gingold's "superlative material for her American debut" and that she "capitalized on every bit of it, abetted handsomely by a fine American film comedian, Billy DeWolfe.  She won her audience the moment she came on, telling them how awed she was by New York harbor's fine statue of Judith Anderson.  Later she played a frustrated old cellist ('a twang here--a twang there'), grateful for any instrument between her legs."  She and DeWolfe "combined their gifts in a sketch that was immediately hailed as a classic.  'Dinner for One' found Miss Gingold as a ninety-year old grande dame seated at the end of a long, elegantly set dining table.  Her decrepit butler, played by DeWolfe, had set places for four of her long dead admirers.  He moved from chair to chair and in each stead proposed a toast to the lady, then cleared the dishes, reset the table, and started the toasts again.  By the third or fourth course, he was quite woozy and clattering the dishes.  At the end of the multicoursed dinner, he escorted his mistress to her room, though which one was less steady of foot was moot.  It may not sound like much, but it was unquestionably one of the most brilliantly performed bits in all of American revue."

ALMANAC ran for 229 performances, and Hermione received the Donaldson Award for the best musical comedy debut.

STICKS AND STONES (1956)  This opened at the John Drew Theatre in East Hampton, Long Island on June 30, 1956.  In addition to Hermione, the cast included Jack Fletcher, Charles Manna, Louise Hoff, Marti Stevens and Jim Hutchinson.   The VARIETY review, in addition, listed Keir Dullea, Marty Weixelbaum, Shirley Dulzill, Brad Rogers and Wayne Pascuzzi.

Title Authors Performers
Sticks and Stones Music by David Baker, lyrics by David Craig Marti Stevens, Louise Hoff, Erin Martin, Charles Manna, Jim Hutchison, Lenny Claret
Opening Remarks and Song The People Were Nice by Buster Davis; lyrics by Mark Lawrence Hermione Gingold and Jack Fletcher
Bridge Game
Louise Hoff, Erin Martin, Jack Fletcher, Lenny Claret
I Want More Music and lyrics by Allan Jeffreys Marti Stevens
The Last Resorts Herbert Farjeon and Walter Leigh Mrs. Twiceover...Hermione Gingold
Colonel Splicer....Jack Fletcher
Alice....................Louise Hoff
My Trip Lucille Kallen Louise Hoff
Well Met George Bauer Jim Hutchinson and Lenny Claret
Music Talk Hermione Gingold Hermione Gingold
Play Street Music by George Bauer Erin Martin, Jim Hutchison, Lenny Claret
Hankie-Pankie Charles Manna Charles Manna
Borgia Orgy Music and lyrics by John Jowitt Hermione Gingold, Louise Hoff, Jack Fletcher, Lenny Claret
I'm Gonna Be Rich G. Wood Jack Fletcher
Colonel Jackson Herbert Farjeon Hermione Gingold
Who's Afraid of Freud
Marti Stevens, Charles Manna
My Faces of 1958 Murray Grand and Hermione Gingold Entire Company

Intermission

Bharat-a Natium Moonlight on the Ganges - music by Sherman Miles, lyrics by Chester Wallace Jack Fletcher, Charles Manna, Erin Martin, Jim Hutchison, Lenny Claret
Man Upon My Mind Music by George Bauer; lyrics by Charles Gaynor Marti Stevens
Hats - A Dance Music by George Bauer Erin Martin
Hats - a Sketch Dennis Waldock Hermione Gingold, Marti Stevens, Jack Fletcher
Come by Sunday Music and lyrics by Murray Grand Louise Hoff
Sign of the Times Music by David Baker; lyrics by Ira Wallach Hermione Gingold and Jack Fletcher
Black Widow Music and lyrics by Peter Cadby Marti Stevens
The Cello Leslie Julian Jones Hermione Gingold
Figaro Charles Manna Charles Manna
Ill Met George Bauer Erin Martin, Jim Hutchison, Lenny Claret
Dr. Livingston
Jack Fletcher and Charles Manna
Park Meeting Nina Warner Hook Governess...Hermione Gingold
Girl..............Louise Hoff
Jewel Song Danced by Erin Martin, Jim Hutchison, Lenny Claret; music and lyrics by Murray Grand Sung by Jack Fletcher
Which Witch? Music by Charles Zwar; lyrics by Alan Melville Hermione Gingold
Finale Tune Leslie Julian Jones Entire Company

THE PEOPLE WERE NICE is available on the ALMANAC CD.

THE LAST RESORTS may be a retitling of WINTER IN TORQUAY, written by Herbert Farjeon for THE LITTLE REVUE (1939).  A contemporary review of STICKS AND STONES  in the NEW YORK POST mentions a skit in which Hermione plays "a dyspeptic dowager boasting of her operations".  This item is available on the ALMANAC CD as WINTER IN PALM SPRINGS.  VARIETY described this as Hermione "convulses with her gum-chomping description of countless hospitalizations and operations.  The artist is evident in this piece, for minus the comedy lines and blackout, the skit could almost stand as a serious character study."

Louise Kallen who wrote MY TRIP was the only female writer on YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS.  

MUSIC TALK was written by Hermione  for RISE ABOVE IT (1941) about an actual piece of music entitled GRASSHOPPER DANCE; it was a pompous pseudointellectual "talk on mewsick".  VARIETY called this "a self-written take-off of a gawky but enraptured concert hall lecture"

The BORGIA ORGY is from SWEET AND LOW (1943) and is available on the ALMANAC CD.

I believe the item entitled HATS - A SKETCH is from RISE ABOVE IT (1941) where it was called UNDER THEIR HATS.  This was Hermione's favorite sketch in RISE ABOVE IT.  She and Hermione Baddeley played two self-centered old dowagers trying on a variety of hideous hats in a millinery shop as they kept up a banter of silly gossip about themselves.  The NY POST review of STICKS AND STONES mentions a sketch about a woman who always buys a hat when depressed.

THE CELLO is from SWEETER AND LOWER (1944) where it was called THE CELLIST .  It had been written for a man, but Hermione performed it, playing a bowlegged bluestocking lady cellist.  It was called CELLO SOLO in SWEETER AND LOWER and THE CONCERT STAGE in JOHN MURRAY ANDERSON'S ALMANAC.

WHICH WITCH is also available on the ALMANAC CD.

The NY POST review of STICKS AND STONES mentions Hermione playing a prim governess revealing her lost romance to a call girl on a park bench, which must be the PARK MEETING sketch.   VARIETY describes this as "La Gingold plays the governess in this simple, almost underwritten, bit with amazing depth of understanding as she alters her original resentment of her benchmate under the realization there is a common bond between them."  

SIGN OF THE TIMES is, according to this POST review, a skit in a quiet mood--"one waiting for Louis, who is waiting for Godot, who is waiting for her".  VARIETY called this an offbeat number aimed at those with Broadway savvy.

VARIETY describes BHARAT-A-NATIUM as a church supper version of an East Indian dance which casts Manna as an embarrassed, sheetwrapped singer whose MOONLIGHT ON THE GANGES is accompanied by the Milan-Martin-Hutchison interpretation of a temple dance that owes much to the buck and wing.  VARIETY called this a cute idea and well done.

The POST review mentions Hermione's "final song with a hot water bag--a lapse of good taste even by so salty a comedienne" but I haven't been able to identify from this description which item this might be.  It sounds like MISS GINGOLD'S OTHER FRIEND from SWEET AND LOW (1943).

VARIETY mentions QUEEN OF SONG and NO ONE EVER ASKED ME, which do not appear on the program I was able to track down, but which are also available on the ALMANAC CD.

After this revue, Hermione went to Hollywood where she appeared in many films.  

FROM A TO Z (1960).  This American revue was known as THE TIME HAS COME prior to its opening at the Plymouth Theatre on April 20, 1960.  It closed May 7, 1960.  The cast included Elliott Reid, Louise Hoff, Kelly Brown, Stuart Damon, Isabelle Farrell, Michael Fesco, Virginia Vestoff, Alvin Epstein, Nora Kovach, Paula Stewart, Bob Dishy, Beryl Towbin, Larry Hovis and Doug Spingler.  In  the second act, Hermione recreated some of her most famous characters, including BOBO and QUEEN OF SONG.  


Title Authors Roles Performers
A Best Gold Music & words by Jerry Herman
Hermione Gingold, Nora Kovach, Kelly Brown, Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler, Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff, Stuart Damon, Paul Stewart
B Bardolatry

Louise Hoff, Elliott Reid
C Pill Parade Music & words by Jay Thompson Narrator Alvin Epstein



Average Man Kelly Brown



Vitamins Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler



Benzabang Beryl Towbin



Pilltown Virginia Vestoff



Sexaphine Nora Kovach



One  More Pill Isabelle Farrell
D Togetherness Music & words by Dickson Hughes & Everett Sloane Grandmother Hermione Gingold



Father Elliott Reid



Mother Louise Hoff



Daughter Paul Stewart



Son Stuart Damon
E Psychological Warfare Woody Allen Sergeant Alvin Epstein



Privates Larry Hovis, Doug Spingler



Enemy Bob Dishy



Medics Stuart Damon, Michael Fesco
F Balloons Music & words by Jack Holmes
Nora Kovach, Kelly Brown, Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler, Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff
G Music Talk

Hermione Gingold
H Hire a Guy Music by Mary Rodgers; words by Marshall Barer The Star Louise Hoff



The Director Elliott Reid



The Writer Stuart Damon



Patsy Bob Dishy
I Interlude Music by Jack Holmes Ladies Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff, Isabelle Farrell



Gentlemen Kelly Brown, Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler



A Stranger Nora Kovach



A Man Stuart Damon
J Hit Parade Woody Allen Girl Hermione Gingold



Boy Alvin Epstein
K Conventional Behavior

Elliott Reid
L I Said to Love Music by Paul Klein; words by Fred Ebb
Louise Hoff
M Winter in Palm Springs Herbert Farjeon Colonel Spicer Alvin Epstein



Mrs. Twiceover Hermione Gingold



Alice Beryl Towbin
N Charlie Words & music by Fred Ebb & Norman Martin
Paul Stewart
O The Sound of Schmaltz Words by Don Parks; music by William Dyer Head Nanny Louise Hoff



Nannies Nora Kovach, Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff, Isabelle Farrell



Alicia Cadwallader-Smith Hermione Gingold



Baron von Klaptrap Elliott Reid



Children Kelly Brown, Alvin Epstein, Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler, Stuart Damon, Bob Dishy, Paul Stewart

Intermission

P Grand Jury Jump Music by Paul Klein; words by Fred Ebb
Nora Kovach, Paul Stewart, Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff, Isabelle Farrell, Kelly Brown, Stuart Damon, Michael Fesco, Doug Spingler, Larry Hovis
Q South American Way Music by Norman Martin; words by Norman Martin & Fred Ebb
Alvin Epstein, Bob Dishy
R Snapshots Herbert Farjeon She Hermione Gingold



He Elliott Reid
S Time Step Music by Paul Klein; words by Fred Ebb
Kelly Brown
T Bobo

Elliott Reid
U Queen of Song

Hermione Gingold
V Surprise Party Woody Allen Fred Bob Dishy



Harry Kelly Brown



Myrna Louise Hoff



Linda Beryl Towbin



Ruthie Nora Kovach



Rita Isabelle Farrell



Virginia Virginia Vestoff



Blonde Paula Stewart
W Countermelody Music by Mary Rodgers & Jay Thompson; words by Marshall Barer
Paula Stewart, Stuart Damon
X Park Meeting Nina Warner Hook Governess Hermione Gingold



Woman Louise Hoff
Y Red Shoes Music by Jack Holmes Introduced by Bob Dishy



Danced by Kelly Brown, Isabelle Farrell, Michael Fesco, Larry Hovis, Doug Spingler, Beryl Towbin, Virginia Vestoff
Z Four for the Road Music by Paul Klein; lyrics by Lee Goldsmith & Fred Ebb
Hermione Gingold
& What's Next Music by Charles Zwar; words by Alan Melville
The Company

The opening night review by Robert Coleman of the DAILY MIRROR cited Woody Allen's SURPRISE PARTY. "A couple of diversion seekers discover that the babes at the revel have all decided to make up like Groucho Marx. That is, all except the one who's a real blonde--Harpo."

The opening night review by Walter Kerr of the HERALD TRIBUNE opined: "Miss Gingold has come on in marceled white wigs, messy black wigs, and towering silver wigs studded with daisies. She has squinted at the audience with one sour eye, she has protruded her tongue far enough to get it caught between her teeth, she has leered like a bulldog and listed as though she were on shore leave. She has done everything she can to intimate comedy without actually being able to deliver it."

Writing in OPEN A NEW WINDOW (2001), Ethan Mordden  noted the show included "Alvin Epstein miming a man changing into a bathing suit on a beach under a raincoat, Elliott Reid spoofing television coverage of a political convention, Kelly Brown trying out another of those nostalgic soft-shoe numbers" but found the show basically old fashioned, a revue built around a headliner (Hermione) with indifferent material.  This was Hermione's last stage revue, as the revue form seemed to die out with the advent of TV which used up so much material.  In the 1960s she and Boris Karloff were interested in performing in a revue to be called THE THING AND I (A MONSTER REVUE), but it never got past the discussion stage.

Writing in EVERY WEEK, A BROADWAY REVUE (THE TAMIMENT PLAYHOUSE, 1921-1960), Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco talks about the Woody Allen sketch PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE which was performed four times in 1958 and revived twice in 1959 at Tamiment.  "The piece is set on a battleground; Allen's stage directions emphasize the importance of achieving 'the authenticity of real war.'  A group of men enter dressed exactly like American G.I.'s but without conventional weaponry.  The sergeant discusses their plan of attack:  'Hit them in the ego, hit them in the id, hit them in their inferiority complexes, and if that doesn't work, hit them below the belt and we'll go back to the old way!'  Shortly thereafter, the 'enemy' enters" and insults and putdowns are exchanged.  The Sergeant is wounded and "screams wildly for aid and two medics rush out from the wings with a stretcher.  He 'hops' onto it, immediately assumes the 'classic analysis position' and launches into his life story, ... followed by a fast blackout."

Some 30-second sound bites from FIRST IMPRESSIONS (Mar 19, 1959 - May 30, 1959):

Some 30-second sound bites from the ALMANAC CD.  Click here for lyrics:


Research by Judy Harris

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