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Lillie in Shreds

2 minute read

The audience, not the play, was the thing. To make the 7 p.m. curtain everybody had braved bright, sarcastic daylight in tie & tails, gems and gowns. London cafe society was out in all its power & glory.

Such splendor falls on theater stalls only on great occasions. This, in a way, was a great one: Better Late, Bea Lillie’s first British musical* since 1942. The show itself was not much. Sighed the News Chronicle: “… A thing of shreds and patches—witty shreds and blank patches.” The blank patches were very, very blank, particularly an aching void called Give My Love to London:

I remember the kid who had my candy.

He was kinda dandy

And tough.

I remember his dad was shot down over Dover;

Gee, that was rough. . . .†

The witty shreds were all Bea Lillie. Quick and slick as a cat in pattens, she practically had them standing on their tiaras.

After the show the Savoy Grill looked like an acre of diamonds. To Britons who had waited long for an excuse to make a good, old-fashioned night of it, it was obviously Better Late than never.

*In 1944, she played on Broadway in The Seven Lively Arts.

† By permission of the copyright owners, Diana Morgan and Robert Mac Dermot.

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