Looking for your company’s next showstopper? Get to know these suggestions of classic British musical dramas and comedies from the Samuel French catalogue.
The Biograph Girl by David Heneker, Warner Brown
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 4m, 5f)
Set in the early 20th century when silent film was still a new form of media, Dorothy and Lillian Gish follow their family friend, the newly dubbed Mary Pickford, to New York City to become actresses in moving pictures. This British salute to Hollywood’s glorious era of silent pictures is ideal for amateur and student theatre groups.
Divorce Me, Darling! by Sandy Wilson
(Full Length Musical, Comedy / 13m, 13f)
A nostalgic and amusing take-off of the musical comedies of the 1930ss. The charming young pupils of Mme Dubonnet’s finishing school, who each married their respective ‘boy friends’, now come together again after ten years… but the initial euphoria of married life has worn off.
Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’be by Lionel Bart, Frank Norman
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 9m, 4f)
Fred Cochran 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. First performed by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop.
Gay’s the Word by Ivor Novello, Alan Melville
(Full Length Musical, Comedy / 17m, 24f)
Gay Daventry, a producer and stage star, goes bankrupt when her new London operetta is a disappointing failure. She agrees with the show’s ingénue, Linda, to open a drama school with Linda’s money at Gay’s country house in Folkestone. Meanwhile, two smugglers hope to use the school as a front for their illegal activities…
The Hired Man by Melvin Bragg, Howard Goodall
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 14m, 5f)
Based on Melvyn Bragg’s stirring novel of rural and industrial working life early in the twentieth century, The Hired Man tells of one family’s journey from land laborers to colliers and back to the land. The superb score is a marvellous succession of chorales, operatic duets and vigorous foot-stomping rhythms.
The Matchgirls by Bill Owen, Tony Russell
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 5m, 13f)
Inspired by fact, this musical tells the story of a strike by the girls working in a match factory in 1888, at a time when unions were still groping for recognition and mass withdrawal of labour was an almost unheard-of strategy in industrial relations.
Oh What A Lovely War by Ted Allan, Charles Chilton, Joan Littlewood, Gerry Raffles
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 11m, 4f)
The scheme for a chronicle of the First World War, told through songs and documents in the form of a seaside pierrot entertainment of the period, was devised and presented by Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop in 1963. A sharp and detailed satire featuring original songs from the period.
Salad Days by Julian Slade, Dorothy Reynolds
(Full Length Musical, Drama / 7m, 5f)
Newly acquired BA gowns hang heavy on the shoulders of Jane and Timothy. Having got this far, what on earth do they do next? They could get married, of course (so they do), but how can they make a living? The original production ran for 2,283 record-breaking performances at the Vaudeville.