Noel Coward: Blithe Charm

Noel Coward, performer, singer, librettist and playwright, got by primarily on charm from his birth in 1899 until his death in 1973 with what Time Magazine called, “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” Sensibilities have changed, but there’s still a certain old-school, British charm to this theatircal jack-of-all-trades. Indeed, that’s what he banked on, often writing plays designed to feature himself.

Mad dogs and Englishman, one of his many ditties, is light and above all entertaining. If you need more evidence of Coward’s genius for entertaining and you happen to be in Manhattan, go see the revival of Blithe Spirit at the Shubert Theater. This comedy features a stellar cast including Angela Lansbury, and made me laugh more than I ever have at a Broadway play. As good as the production was, the merit lay in the play itself.

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