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Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959)

Compositeur: Lionel Bart

Parolier: Lionel Bart

Librettiste: Frank Norman

Généralités: Histoire, thèmes et particularités

Résumé

Fred Cochran, the hero, is a down-at-heel gangster, trying to make a comeback. Lil Smith is his loyal moll, a tart with a heart of gold, who longs for respectability and keeps a marriage licence ready for her lucky day. Fred's shpieler (gambling den) provides a refuge for the failures of the underworld: Paddy the gambler, Tosher the ponce with his girls Betty and Rosey, and Redhot, a sad little burglar who never manages to get warm. They all look to Fred for a living and when he wins on the horses it seems the gang may be back in business. Fred redecorates his place, all "contempery" and at the opening the Horrible Percey Fortesque comes to gamble and a rival leader, Meatface, is beaten in a razor fight. The play ends with a wedding - Lil and Fred are giving up crime to go straight; handing over the shpieler to the constable on the beat who has long wanted to go crooked!

Quelques commentaires

The author admits that the final published version of Fings owes much to the improvisation that took place during rehearsals by the Theatre Workshop Company who originally staged it. It was conceived as a straight play with music rather than a musical play; but it does provide opportunities for extras and for some lively ensembles. The music is all in unison and the play is therefore specially suited to the dramatic society looking for a musical show.

 

Historique du musical

Génèse du musical

Fart of a new wave of British musicals (Expresso Bongo, The Crooked Mile) dealing with the more sordid aspects of London life, Fings Ain't Wot They Used t'Be was celebrated for its realistic depiction of such Soho institutions as brasses (prostitutes), ponces (pimps), and spielers (gambling dens). Author Frank Norman, a former member of Soho’s underworld, originally wrote the story as a play without music and sent the first draft to Joan Littlewood of the Theatre Workshop. Miss Littlewood then called in Lionel Bart, who had previously written only lyrics, and the three turned it into a musical. It was first presented at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, Feb. 17, 1959, with the cast improvising much of the dialogue and situations. Its Guys-and-Dollsish story is concerned with Fred Cochran, who runs a grubby spieler, and his ambition to become a bigshot again. After winning a huge bet on a horse race, Fred has his place redecorated, but the opening-night party is ruined when Fred is beaten up for failing to pay off the police. Eventually he marries his longtime girlfriend, Lily. During run, Glynn Edwards was succeeded by Bryan Pringle, James Booth by Maurice Kaufmann.

 

Détails

Liste des chansons

Prologue
Proceding in a Westerly Direction
G'Night Dearie
Fings Ain't Wot They Used t'Be
Laying Abaht
Where It's Hot
Ceilin's Comin' Dahn, The
Contempery
Cochran Will Return
Polka Dots
Meatface
Where Do Little Birds Go?
Big Time
Carve Up!
Cop a Bit of Pride
Student Ponce, The
Place in the Old Country, A

Textes disponibles on-line

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Pour en savoir plus

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be.

 

Versions du musical

Versions majeures de Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be

Version 1

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959-02-Theatre Royal Stratford East-London) (Original)
Durée :
Nombre :
Première Preview : mardi 17 février 1959
Première : mardi 17 février 1959
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Joan Littlewood
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Miriam Karlin (¡My Smith), James Booth (Tosher), Wallas Eaton (Horace Seaton), Glynn Edwards (Fred Cochran), Barbara Windsor (Rosie), Toni Palmer (Betty), Tom Chatto (Sgt. Collins), Faddy Joyce (Paddy).
Commentaires :
Original ly created at the Theatre RoyStratford East for a limited season in February 1959. This was revived at Stratford for Christmas 1959 and then transferred to the West End in February 1960. Originally Frank Norman, a former member of the Soho underworld, wrote the piece as a straight play, but Joan Littlewood decided to make it a musical. As was the policy of the Theatre Workshop Company, the cast was responsible for much of the dialogue and action in their improvisation sessions.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 2

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1959-12-Theatre Royal Stratford East-London) (Revival)
Durée :
Nombre : 63 représentations
Première Preview : mardi 22 décembre 1959
Première : mardi 22 décembre 1959
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Joan Littlewood
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Miriam Karlin (¡My Smith), James Booth (Tosher), Wallas Eaton (Horace Seaton), Glynn Edwards (Fred Cochran), Barbara Windsor (Rosie), Toni Palmer (Betty), Tom Chatto (Sgt. Collins), Faddy Joyce (Paddy).
Commentaires :
Original ly created at the Theatre RoyStratford East for a limited season in February 1959. This was revived at Stratford for Christmas 1959 and then transferred to the West End in February 1960. Originally Frank Norman, a former member of the Soho underworld, wrote the piece as a straight play, but Joan Littlewood decided to make it a musical. As was the policy of the Theatre Workshop Company, the cast was responsible for much of the dialogue and action in their improvisation sessions.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 3

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1960-02-Garrick Theatre-London) (West End Transfer)
Durée :
Nombre : 897 représentations
Première Preview : jeudi 11 février 1960
Première : jeudi 11 février 1960
Dernière : Inconnu
Mise en scène : Joan Littlewood
Chorégraphie :
Avec : Miriam Karlin (¡My Smith), James Booth (Tosher), Wallas Eaton (Horace Seaton), Glynn Edwards (Fred Cochran), Barbara Windsor (Rosie), Toni Palmer (Betty), Tom Chatto (Sgt. Collins), Faddy Joyce (Paddy).
Commentaires :
Original ly created at the Theatre RoyStratford East for a limited season in February 1959. This was revived at Stratford for Christmas 1959 and then transferred to the West End in February 1960. Originally Frank Norman, a former member of the Soho underworld, wrote the piece as a straight play, but Joan Littlewood decided to make it a musical. As was the policy of the Theatre Workshop Company, the cast was responsible for much of the dialogue and action in their improvisation sessions.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 4

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (1999-04-Queen's Theatre Hornchurch-London) (Revival)
Durée : 2 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : vendredi 16 avril 1999
Première : lundi 19 avril 1999
Dernière : samedi 08 mai 1999
Mise en scène : Bob Carlton
Chorégraphie : Liz Marsh
Avec : Steve Edwin (Fred), Diana Croft (Lily), Dale Superville, Tony Hunt, Liz Marsh, Nina Lucking, Richard Brightiff, Phil Hearne
Commentaires :
Although staged at the furthest reaches of Greater London, and not really qualifying for a “West End” listing, this was a notable production since it was the first major revival in almost 40 years. Lionel Bart himself was working on the production, and preparing some new lyrics, when he died, just two weeks before the opening night. It was staged with the cast doubling as the orchestra and playing their own instruments.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Version 5

Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (2011-05-Union Theatre-London) (Revival)
Durée : 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : mardi 10 mai 2011
Première : vendredi 13 mai 2011
Dernière : samedi 04 juin 2011
Mise en scène : Phil Willmott
Chorégraphie : Nick Winston
Avec : Hannah-Jane Fox, Ruth Alfie Adams, Patsy Blower, Ellie Rose Boswell, Suzie Chard, Hadrian Delacey, Robert Donald, Alison Dormer, Richard Foster-King, Natalie Harman, James Horne, Philip Marriott, Neil McCaul, Anna McNicholas, Keiley Hall, Jo Parsons, Ian Rixon, Philip Scutt, Amelia Whitwood, A J Brinkman, Barney Ashworth.
Commentaires :
This was its first West End showing in over 50 years (though it did have an outer-London revival in 1999). It was welcomed as a jolly piece of dated nostalgia.
En savoir plus sur cette version

Mais aussi, quelques versions régionales ou mineures, ... de Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be

 

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