Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

The story was set in the 1870s and told of a young girl named Lucy Veracity Willow who was about to be married to a staid young man, Hon Thomas Trout. She leaves him at the church and elopes with a debonair Frenchman, Pierre Fontaine. The couple travel to France, and are separated due to the effect of the Franco-Prussian War. Finally they find each other and return to England to marry.

Synopsis complet

 

Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

Bless the Bride had a friendly reception from critics and public when it opened at the Adelphi Theatre in April 1947, a few nights before Oklahoma!, and stayed for 886 performances. London took its stars, Lizbeth Webb (who had previously taken over a lead in Vivian Ellis and A. P. Herbert's Big Ben) and the handsome Greek Georges Guetary to its heart. Herbert's witty libretto followed the fortunes of Lucy Willow (Webb), engaged to but not in love with Thomas Trout (Brian Reece, who would also appear in their Tough at the Top). When she falls in love with a French actor, Pierre Fontaine, she follows him to France but returns to England when he goes to war. Believing him dead, she agrees again to marry Thomas, but Pierre returns and they are reunited. Herbert craftily highlighted the foibles of the English against the splendour of the French in a very humane work. Ellis's delightful score perfectly captured the feel of Victorian summers and the torments of true love, providing at least four outstanding songs, all of which were taken into the recording studio. When Ellis played his first version of 'Ma Belle Marguerite' to Guetary, the leading man said 'C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas Guetary!' 'It soon will be,' replied Ellis. In Guetary's magnificent performance it remains a classic of British musical theatre, as do 'I Was Never Kissed Before' with its enchanting snatch of Webb's spoken dialogue, and that duet so loathed by band-masters 'This Is My Lovely Day'. There is an extraordinary feeling to this lyric and its depressing melody, not surprising in a song that insists 'This is the day I will remember the day I'm dying'. If Ellis and Herbert have one song that will be immortal, 'This Is My Lovely Day' is probably it. The fourth of the numbers recorded in 1947 is Guetary's fine solo 'Table For Two', delivered in a manner that makes most modern leading men seem a poor lot.
For almost half a century, beyond a disappointing studio recording headed by Mary Millar and Roberto Cardinali, this was all the gramophone could offer of Bless the Bride, until a highly distressed recording of a radio broadcast by the Adelphi Theatre's original cast was discovered in America in the early 1990s. The wonders of this recording reveal so much more of the libretto and score, with substantial dialogue and an immediate sense of theatre adding to the occasion. Guetary and Webb give performances here that are as admirable as those on the original recordings, in circumstances that allow their characters to blossom. So much is heard that was unknown, as when Guetary interrupts Webb's ecstatic rendition of 'I Was Never Kissed Before' with a middle section in which he sweeps her off her feet in a long, ringing paean of praise to her and to France: it is an enriching experience. Brian Reece is the most pleasing of second leading men, even if his character is a cad (ultimately reformed). When he refuses Lucy's invitation to play croquet she is lost for words: 'You don't like croquet. But, Thomas, how are we to occupy our leisure for the next fifty years?' At last, we are able to hear Betty Paul as Pierre's jealous friend Suzanne Valois, and it is a thrilling revelation. When she describes the terrible conditions in war-torn France, we know that hers must have been a performance of dignity and power. It provides a very rare opportunity to hear this fine artist. But the delights crowd in on all sides: the enchantment of Ellis's choruses, the Willow sisters discussing the possibilities of 'Any Man But Thomas T.', the stoic performances of Eric Fort and Edna Clement as Lucy's parents, Anona Winn as Nanny singing 'Ducky' (with melancholic wistfulness, and that nursery-like quality so typical of Ellis, recalling his revue song 'Other People's Babies'), and a finale in which the stage action comes alive. The discovery of this material is enough to make the most sceptical believe in miracles, a cause for celebrating the genius of its creators. The sound restoration is beyond praise.

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

Act I
Croquet, Croquet – Ensemble
Too Good to Be True – Thomas
Any Man But Thomas T. – Lucy
Oh, What will Mother Say – Lucy's sisters
I was never Kissed Before – Lucy and Pierre (duet)
God Bless the Family – Ensemble
Ma Belle Marguerite – Pierre
Silent Heart – Lucy
Ducky – Lucy and her Nanny
Bless the Bride (Finale Act 1) – Company

Act II
Bobbing, Bobbing – French maidens
Mon Pauvre Petit Pierre – Suzanne, Lucy and Pierre
The Englishman – Thomas and the family
A Table for Two – Pierre
This is my Lovely Day – Lucy and Pierre
The Fish – The family
To France – Pierre and Chorus
Here's A Kiss – Lucy's sisters
My Big Moment – Thomas

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Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Bless the Bride

Version 1

Bless the Bride (1947-04-Adelphi Theatre-London) (Original)
Durée :
Nombre : 886 représentations
Première Preview : samedi 26 avril 1947
Première : samedi 26 avril 1947
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Wendy Toye
Chorégraphie : Wendy Toye
Avec : Lizbeth Welch (Lucy Veracity Willow), Georges Guetary (Pierre Fontaine), Brian Reece (Thomas Trout), Betty Paul (Suzanne Valois)
Commentaires :
This was Lizbeth Welch’s first leading role, and the show itself the very best of the series of collaborations between Vivian Ellis, A.P. Herbert and the producer C.B. Cochran. In spite of the huge success of the “new” American shows like “Oklahoma” and “Annie Get Your Gun”, “Bless the Bride” became a great favourite, running for two years.
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Version 2

Bless the Bride (1987-08-Sadler's Wells Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée :
Nombre : 54 représentations
Première Preview : samedi 08 août 1987
Première : mardi 11 août 1987
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Christopher Renshaw
Chorégraphie : Gillian Gregory
Avec : Jan Hartley {Lucy Veracity Willow), Bernard Alane {Pierre Fontaine), Simon Williams (Thomas Trout), Ruth Madoc (Suzanne Valois), Una Stubbs (Mary Willow), Gerald Harper {Augustus Willow), John Griffiths, Robert Meadmore, Jean Challis, (Children: Russell Grubiak, Jade Magri)
Commentaires :
This was a 40th Anniversary Production. The original production has been at the Adelphi Theatre on April 26th 1947 where it ran for 886 performances. The original cast included Lizbeth Webb, Georges Guetary, Brian Reece and Betty Paul, directed and choreographed by Wendy Toye and produced by C.B.Cochran. This production was a joint venture intended to transfer to the West End after its Sadler’s Wells run. The transfer did not happen, and the show ended up with a £600,000 loss.
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Version 3

Bless the Bride (1999-06-King's Head Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 2 mois 2 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : mardi 08 juin 1999
Première : mardi 08 juin 1999
Dernière : dimanche 22 août 1999
Mise en scène : Martin Charnin
Chorégraphie : Petra Siniawski
Avec : Judy Campbell (Old Lucy Veracity Willow), Tiffany Edwards (Young Lucy Willow), Jack Rebaldi (Pierre Fontaine), Charles Armstrong (Thomas Trout), Rachel Izen (Suzette), Patricia Lancaster (Mary Willow), Alan Thompson (Augustus Willow), Guillaume Tobo, Kimberley Barker, Joanna Kirkland, Abby Taylor
Commentaires :
Martin Chamin (creator of “Annie” etc.) staged his own adaptation of “Bless the Bride”, starting with a flashback from early in the Second World War, and giving it a kind of “Brideshead Revisited” feel. This re-written version was much praised, and several critics felt it gave a new lease of life to what was formerly a very dated and old-fashioned show.
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Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Bless the Bride

 

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