- ELIZABETH POWER
- How pleasant it would be to report that Miss Power
regularly popped up in a series of dazzling British musicals.
Sadly, she didn't. In fact, perhaps she dazzled rather more than
did the very few musicals in which she was invited to appear.
- Whatever happened to Elizabeth Power? Just when she seemed
to be a real possibility for a British leading lady of musicals,
with a sure way with her material, she moved out of musicals.
They were the poorer for her negligence.
- She must have been little more than a child when she played
Alison in a revival of the Slade-Reynolds Christmas musical The
Merry Gentleman at the Bristol Old Vic at the end of 1959, for
she didn't attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art until the
mis-60s, leaving there in 1966 to work for eighteen months at
the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry. Repertory theatre seemed to
fill her time, but in 1969 she auditioned (along with many other
hopefuls) for the leading role of Lucy in the spectacular Two
Cities, a supposedly mammoth British musical attempt at Dickens
epic story of the French Revolution.
- She got the part (Anna Dawson almost did) and had a lion's
share of the score - indeed, possibly the nicest of the so-so
score. Three solos ('With tender love and patience', 'Suddenly'
and the mournful 'Will we ever meet again?') wasn't bad going
for a London debut, and there was of course that impossibly stirring
duet with Kevin Colson, 'Two different people', with its unquestionably
accurate first line - 'We're two different people'. In the event,
Two Cities was almost laughed out of court, and played to a sometimes
deserted Palace Theatre for only 44 performances from February
1969. None of it was Power's fault, for she seemed ideal casting,
and her recorded numbers convince us how fine an artist she already
was at this early stage of her career. Sometime after Two Cities
she toured in a production of The Pajama Game, but she had to
wait until 1972 for her next starring role in a musical.
- Trelawny was Julian Slade's final go at writing an adventurous
musical. Some critics felt it worked, others didn't. To this
observer, it seemed here and there to be overpowering in its
perfectly judged charm, with some beautiful things in its score,
but there was a question mark over some of it. Pinero's workaday,
uncomplaining, jobbing actress Avonia Bunn was given real life
in Power's portrayal, although Slade couldn't perhaps give her
the material she needed to make a lasting impression. She had
a big second act number 'Avonia's Turn' that needed a little
more work to make it good, and a nice early duet with the show's
star Ian Richardson, 'Walking on' (quintessentially Sladian and
bewitching). The show opened at the start of 1972 at the Bristol
Old Vic to an ecstatic reception, transferred to Sadlers Wells
(its natural home, as the piece was based on Pinero's old favourite
Trelawny of the Wells) and washed up at the inhospitable Prince
of Wales Theatre, with Power staying for its entire run. It was
her last London musical play.
- In 1974 she was cast in the company of the retrospective
revue Cole (built around the songs of Cole Porter) at the Mermaid
Theatre and showed how able a singer she was, and the following
year she made what appears to have been her swansong in musicals
with the awkwardly titled So Who Needs Marriage? The real question
was, who needed a musical called So Who Needs Marriage? The tiniest
of affairs (it had a cast of six), it was written by Monty Norman.
It set off on a short tour beginning at Brighton in May 1975
and moved hopefully forward until it closed a few weeks later.
Original London cast recordings of
- Two Cities
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