Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

Oh Coward!

A Musical Comedy Revue

oh coward musical revue
Oh Coward

Words and Music by Noel Coward

Devised by Roderick Cook

Musical Direction by Doug Peck

Directed by Jim Corti

At Writers’ Theatre

Slick, sophisticated, stylish Noel Coward tune-fest a ‘smashing success!’

“I have always been very fond of drama critics…I think it is so frightfully clever of them to go night after night to the theatre and know so little about it.”

“The theatre is a wonderful place, a house of strange enchantment, a temple of illusion. What it most emphatically is not and never will be is a scruffy, ill-lit, fumed-oak drill hall serving as a temporary soap box for political propaganda.”

oh coward musical revue
Noel Coward

“I am determined to travel through life first class.”

–Noel Coward

Kudos to Writers’ Theatre and director Jim Corti for creating an amazing musical comedy revue steeped in the 1920-30’s styled themed concept show. Filled with the words and songs of Noel Coward (1899-1973), the English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit and flamboyance,  Oh Coward! is a sharp 34 song-fest that is brilliantly performed by Kate Fry, Rob Lindley, John Sanders with terrific arrangements and deft piano work from Doug Peck. You’d be hard pressed to see a more slick, sophisticated, well sung musical revue.

oh coward musical revue

Elegance and a carefully crafted image and an acute sense of style were the hallmarks of Noel Coward. That sense is evident in the 30’s style nightclub set (designed by Kevin Depinet) and with the carefully detailed costume designs (by Rachel Anne Healy) that featured sleek dresses for Kate Fry and finely tailored men’s  vested or double-breasted suits with bow ties for Sanders and Lindley. Style, proper high English accents,  smartly crafted  enunciation gave the witticism and Coward songs just the proper edge to communicate his effervescent music and lyrics with their proper satirical bite.

oh coward musical revue

Coward’s songbook is in terrific hands with this fabulous threesome. They sing harmonies, they participate in Coward-ish witty repartee to life and social norms as they throughout captivate us.

Kate Fry brings her glorious, glowing, glamor to Coward’s  tunes, especially with “London Pride,”  ” If Love Were All,” and “Nina.” Fry’s voice never sounded better.

John Sanders, ever the British gentleman, nicely nails tune like “Why Do the Wrong people Travel,” “This is a Changing World” and “You Were There.” Sanders is an elegant song stylist.

But I was enchanted with the work of Rob Lindley who seemed to be channeling Noel Coward with his edge of style, his gestures and his speech patterns. Lindley has a sharp edge to Coward tunes such as “Let’s Say Goodbye,” ” Mad Dogs and Englishman” “and “Mad About the Boy.”

oh coward musical revue

Doug Peck’s piano work and his skilled arrangements fueled Coward’s score. The three-part work by this outstanding cast landed favorites like the musical ditties–“Chase Me, Charlie, ” What Ho, Mrs. Brisket” and ‘Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?” The classic Coward songs–“Mrs. Worthington” and “I Went to a Marvelous Party” highlighted this revue.

Get to Writers’ Theatre (Books on Vernon) to get a dose of the wit and flamboyance of one of the great entertainers of the 20th Century–Noel Coward. Oh Coward! is more than a great musical comedy revue–it is a ‘Marvelous Party.’

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At Writers’ Theatre (books on Vernon), 664 Vernon, Glencoe, IL, call 847-242-6000,, tickets $40 -$60, Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 7:30, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 & 6 pm, special Wednesday matinees at 2 pm on Dec 13, Jan 10 & Mar 21, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission.

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