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

LETTER: Time for romance

From Mr Tony Brandon

Obituary: Jim Hepburn

Jim Hepburn moved in Bohemian and artistic circles but always retained the image of the classic English gentleman. None the less he managed to pioneer tap-dancing on the London stage, flew bombers in the Second World War and became the second person to circumnavigate the globe from east to west.

Unbuttoning the master

Philip Hoare's intimate life of Noel Coward is out this week. Here, he describes the joys and frustrations of separating the man from the legend

Michael Thornton

In his diary on 12 October 1995 John Walsh stated that author Michael Thornton had written a letter to Gay Times complaining that he was not referred to in Philip Hoare's recent biography of Noel Coward despite being widely known to be Coward's last lover.

Music; Philharmonia, RFH, London YMSO, Barbican, London

When Samuel Barber presented his new Second Symphony to the American Air Force, who had commissioned it, there was some consternation. The USAF, Barber was told, was a progressive force, so where were the new instruments, the new techniques? In France today, I am told, big business takes a similar view: a forward-looking firm wants forward-looking music - and isn't the modern French constitution founded on the idea of revolution?

Cabaret; MICHAEL FEINSTEIN Comedy Theatre, London

At the start of his latest album, Such Sweet Sorrow, Michael Feinstein wings in on the middle eight of "Let's Face the Music and Dance", sounding for all the world like this time it's got to be Hollywood or bust. Drama, romance, glamour, satiny strings, shapely horns and saxes - too, too fabulous. But that's not his style. Life is a cabaret, old chum - as if we could ever forget. We like him just the way he is, sweet and low down, coaxing, crooning, swinging, indulging his and our passion for those national treasures of the American popular songbook. And if these weren't for the most part theatre songs, we'd all feel more at home in some fancy lounge bar or supper club, just him and us and no proscenium to come between us. We would, wouldn't we?

For King's Head and country

Edward VIII did it in 1931. You could still do it today. Martin Hoyle mingles with the crowds signing up to join the Cavalcade

Typewriters: the key facts

1 There remains only one typewriter ribbon manufacturer in England. Situated in Lancashire, it is an off-shoot of Ramsbotham's Jubilee Lamp- black (1897) Ltd.

TICKET OFFER: CAVALCADE

Jeremy Clyde and Gabrielle Drake (right) head a splendid cast in Noel Coward's vast historical epic Cavalcade, in the first professional production in London since 1930. The spectacle opens on New Year's Eve 1900, moving through the Boer War and the Great War into the jazz age and, finally, another New Year's Eve in 1930. Featuring magnificent historical scenes and several classic Coward musical interludes, Cavalcade tells the story of two very different London families.

And now for something completely different

Classical Music

Noel Coward's early life is basis for Venom

Theatre Review

I have heard the mermaids singing

WILLIAM DONALDSON'S w e e k

Peace is hell, darling

THEATRE; Absolute Hell National Theatre, London

Theatre : Dandy, but not quite fine

THE travels of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya continue: from Anthony Hopkins's Clwyd to Louis Malle's Manhattan, and now to Derrywhere Field Day's touring production opened last week.

LEADING ARTICLE: An angry watershed in British culture

Noel Coward said of himself that he had "a talent to amuse". John Osborne, who died on Christmas Eve, had a talent to attack. He elevated vituperation into an art form. Latterly, his vitriol poured out in journalism and autobiography. But, as a p laywright, no one could ever take away his star part in the year of the greatest upheaval in recent British history: 1956.
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