Entertainment » Music

Cowardy Custard

by Steven Bergman
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 22, 2013
Cowardy Custard

Known primarily for his plays, including "Blithe Spirit" and the frequently produced, "Private Lives," Noel Coward (1899-1973) is usually overlooked for his musical contributions during his five-decade career. Therefore it seemed appropriate that his lifelong friend, Sir Bernard Miles, would oversee the production of an extensive evening of Coward's music in 1972, which would lead to the creation of "Cowardly Custard," which ran for over 400 performances at London's Mermaid Theatre.

Masterworks Broadway has now released the digital version of the soundtrack from the show, which began as a commemoration of the 70th birthday of the famed British playwright/songwriter. The 2-disk set is packed with scenes and melodies, performed by an ensemble of twelve, included Tony Award winning actress Patricia Routledge, Una Stubbs (from the current British hit, "Sherlock") and the husband and wife team of Jonathan Cecil and Anna Sharkey.

Beginning with a 27-minute(!) montage containing an extensive 25-segments, if you are a fan of Coward's work, and it is not included in this collection, then you don't need to look for it. The expected pieces are here: from "Mad About the Boy" and "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" (both from the 1932 show, "Words and Music") and "I Wonder What Happened to Him?" to Coward's ode to stage mothers, "Mrs. Worthington" and a "London Sequence," which features a half dozen selections about the author's hometown, the material is all presented in the matter-of-fact manner which epitomized Coward's style: a "here it is, for better or not" approach which though strong on wordplay did not always fare well in engaging the listener.

"Cowardly Custard"
Noel Coward / Patricia Routledge
CD and digital formats
Masterworks Broadway

Steven Bergman is a Composer / Playwright / Performing Arts Educator based outside of Boston, MA.


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