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Although there’s a theatre named after him in the Strand, the musicals of singer, actor and composer Ivor Novello are hardly ever seen these days.

So credit to the tiny Jermyn Street theatre for bringing his last work (which premiered in 1951, shortly before his sudden death) to the West End, complete with an enthusiastic singing, dancing cast of 19, plus pianist.

The plot is as shaky as they come. After a disastrous flop, musical star Gay Daventry battles to salvage both her career and her seaside acting school, a couple of smugglers with ridiculous accents make a brief appearance (as does an elegant old gentleman sporting a white carnation) and the juvenile leads end up happily betrothed.

But it’s really little more than a vehicle for feisty leading lady Gay (winningly played by Sophie-Louise Dann with the no-nonsense gusto of a slightly naughty if imperious head mistress) and an excuse to bring together some mock operetta-style warbling and a selection of lively and often witty songs (lyrics by Alan Melville), some of which parody Novello’s own earlier successes.

All totally daft – but the revue-style Teaching, recounting how their hopelessly untalented pupils  met a variety of nasty ends, is delivered  with irresistibly malevolent glee by the spinster quartet of superannuated, unpaid staff, failed performers all.

Jermyn Street Theatre, SW1Y 6ST
Tube | Piccadilly Circus
Until 2nd March 


Theatre review: Gay's The Word at Jeremyn Street Theatre until March 2
Digital Mag

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