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London Revues 1910 - 1999

London

Revues

1910-14

London

Revues

1915-19

London

Revues

1920-24

London

Revues

1925-29

London

Revues

1930-34

London

Revues

1935-39

London

Revues

1940-44

London

Revues

1945-49

London

Revues

1950-54

London

Revues

1955-59

London

Revues

1960-69

London

Revues

1970-79

London

Revues

1980-89

London

Revues

1990-99



London Reviews

Index



My accompanying London Musicals publication has chosen, in the main,  not to include  the many elaborate, not-so-elaborate, intimate, fringe and satirical ‘revues’ which were an important part of our Twentieth Century Theatre.

Revues began making inroads into the standard variety bills before 1914, and, during the war years, soon became an established part of the London and touring circuits.  In the 1920s and 30s they became even more lavish and spectacular, and somewhat prone to hinting at something French in their titles.  The shortages and cut-backs of the Second World War saw these shows scale back into something more intimate, with the emphasis on wit rather than spectacle – and these intimate revues are still talked of today as superb examples of the genre.

After 1945, the revue format initially struggled to find the right style for the new post-war society: some shows became a bit ‘arty’; and some relied too heavily on the exposure of female flesh.  It looked as though this branch of entertainment had run its course. Then along came ‘Beyond the Fringe’ and a whole new approach  - the satirical revue.

This brilliant revival didn’t last too long. Just as variety theatres were losing out to the spread of television, so the satirical revue lost out to TV programmes like ‘That Was the Week That Was’.  Television, not theatre, became the principal home for satire and sketch comedy.  The world of revue temporarily fell back on flesh exposure, taking advantage of the abolition of censorship, and hoping to lure the customers with erotic fare. This was to little avail, and gradually the number of revues in London’s theatres declined.  By the end of the century they had all but disappeared  - remnants surviving in ‘tribute’ shows and finding a niche market on the fringe.

Trying to create a record of these shows, their material and their principal casting, is easier in the early days, when newspaper reviews would generally cover them.  The wartime shows suffered from reduced coverage due to newsprint shortages.  Many later shows were ignored in the Press due to a kind of snobbery that regarded these fringe revues as unworthy of serious attention.  So. . . this present attempt has many gaps, missing dates, incomplete cast-lists and, doubtless, numerous errors.  But, it is a first attempt at completeness for the period.  The errors are mostly mine, and corrections will be gratefully received.

As always, for anyone researching theatre shows in London, much gratitude is owed to the much-missed Raymond Mander and Joe Mitchenson, the incomparable duo whose 1971 publication ‘Revue’ was a starting point; to the archives of ‘The Stage’ and ‘The Era’; to back copies of ‘Theatre World’, ‘Plays & Players’ and ‘Theatre Record’; to the numerous online sources; and to the many friends and colleagues who have added to my own programme collection. Thank you, all!

Vivyan Ellacott