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Early years in Liverpool gave him the perfect voice for John Lennon in the animated ‘Yellow Submarine’ film

The Critics: Theatre: Proof that Nunn is at his best

The Merchant of Venice Cottesloe, London Hay Fever Savoy, London Perdition Gate, London

Arts: The Week in Review

THE FILM

The Information on: `Hay Fever'

Who Are They?

The Information on: Private Lives

What Is It?

First Night: Mirth-free and misconceived

Private Lives Lyttleton Theatre London

Music sleuth revives Coward masterpiece

HE WAS known as The Master and this was the work he regarded as his masterpiece. But it has taken almost half a century for After the Ball to be performed as Noel Coward wished.

`Oliver!' composer Bart dies

LIONEL BART, "father of the modern British musical", died in London yesterday, age 68, after a long fight against cancer.

Words: ken, n. and v.

NOT NEW to The Complete Lyrics of Noel Coward, and undoubtedly true, "Even Clergymen Are Naughty Now and Then" (On with the Dance, 1925) is not as well known as it might be. (The greatest such gem is "Time Will Tell", cut from several shows.) As for the clergy, Douglas Byng and Ernest Thesiger sang: "There's not a week goes by / In which some one doesn't die, / So we really mustn't grumble very much." One can picture this harmonising vicar and curate: "though we fill the cup of duty to the very brim / Ideas may sometimes swim / Into our ken".

Desert Island Mowlam's choice

WHEN POLITICIANS go on Desert Island Discs, they try to select a choice of records that reveals a more human side. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam chooses a top eight that hints at a sharper humour than some colleagues. (Tony Blair chose Bruce Springsteen's Fourth of July and Neil Kinnock opted for John Lennon's Imagine.)

Words: slut, n.

IT WAS logical enough at the time that the Rev John Skipp's Bible class introduced me to Noel Coward's songs. And so, one now sets aside Tyndale to pick up the new edition of his Complete Lyrics (the American edition is on better paper). It contains 200 lyrics which Mr Skipp cannot have known, such as "A Little Slut of Six" (1924): "When I'm safely married / I'll learn lots of lovely tricks / To save myself from having / Any little sluts of six." The Lord Chamberlain objected, and Coward sort of obliged with: "I shall count my little chicks / And maybe, if I'm lucky / I'll have lots of sluts of six."

Thursday Book: Theatre's glass closet

1956 AND ALL THAT: THE MAKING

Theatre: Gods and monsters, we've got 'em

THE TEMPEST

Letter: Coward's way

Sir: Philip Hoare's paean for the values of Noel Coward (Comment, 1 February) was summed up more than three decades ago in a top newspaper's thundering headline over an editorial on the Chatterley trial: A DECENT RETICENCE. But in reality this is everything that the English do not need.

How We Met: Lionel Bart And Richard O'brien

Composer, lyricist and playwright Lionel Bart, 68, studied at St Martin's School of Art. He had no training in music but was drawn to it through his love of the theatre; his hit musicals include Fings Ain't What They Used T'Be and Oliver! He has written film scores and many individual hits, winning the Ivor Novello Award for song-writing nine times. He lives alone in Acton, west London. Born in Cheltenham, actor and writer Richard O'Brien, 56, lived in New Zealand as a boy. In 1972 he created the cult Rocky Horror Show. In the mid-Eighties he hosted the TV game show The Crystal Maze; he has recently had parts in the Spice Girls movie and Ever After. He lives in Surrey with his second wife, Jane, and has three children

Theatre: A ghost of Noel past

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