On with the Dance (musical)

On with the Dance is a 1925 musical revue produced by C. B. Cochran, written and composed by Noël Coward and Philip Braham.[1] Coward wrote his songs while he was acting in his first stage hit, The Vortex. 1925 was a busy year for Coward, in which he produced three other plays in London: Hay Fever, Fallen Angels and Easy Virtue.[2]

The show, directed by Frank Collins, opened at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, England, on 17 March 1925 and transferred to the London Pavilion, where it ran for 229 performances.[3][4] It is best remembered for Alice Delysia's singing "Poor Little Rich Girl".[5] Cochran wanted to cut the piece and had to be dissuaded by Coward. As well as Delysia, the cast included Hermione Baddeley, Ernest Thesiger, Nigel Bruce and Douglas Byng.[3] On opening night, Coward was not yet the famous name he would be by the end of the year: The Manchester Guardian review mentioned him only once, and The Times review did not mention him at all.[3][4]


(In the order listed in The Lyrics of Noël Coward, pp. 19–30):

  • Cosmopolitan lady
  • I'm so in love
  • Poor little rich girl
  • First love
  • Couldn't we keep on dancing?
  • Raspberry time in Runcorn
  • Spinsters' song
  • The vicarage dance
  • Choir boys' song
  • Even clergymen are naughty now and then
  • Church parade
  • Come a little closer

The Noël Coward Society, drawing on performing statistics from the publishers and the Performing Rights Society, ranks "Poor little rich girl" among Coward's ten most popular songs.[6] The show also features four ballets, not by Coward. One of them, based on William Hogarth's The Rake’s Progress, was composed by Roger Quilter and choreographed by Leonid Massine.[3]

Critical receptionEdit

The reviewer in The Sunday Times was not impressed, calling it "a curious mixture of perfect beauty and perfect drivel," with "not a good tune in the whole piece"; whereas The Times critic responded more positively, noting that "as a whole, with the dancing always preponderating, the revue [was] excellent."[7] The Era's reviewer wrote on May 9, 1925, "The most comical thing in the revue is the Vicarage Garden Party on the lines of a musical comedy, with Miss Hermione Baddeley giving a clever and cruel burlesque of Nellie, the heroine, and Mr. Ernest Thesiger and Mr. Douglas Byng, as two clergymen, singing the funniest number of the evening."[8]


  1. ^ On with the Dance, Noelcowardmusic.com, accessed 16 March 2018
  2. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Noël Coward – Biography", AllMusic, accessed 16 March 2018
  3. ^ a b c d "Great Showmanship", The Manchester Guardian, 18 March 1925, p. 11
  4. ^ a b "On with the Dance", The Times, 1 May 1925, p. 12
  5. ^ "On with the Dance". Library of Congress.
  6. ^ "Appendix 3 (The Relative Popularity of Coward's Works)", The Noël Coward Music Index "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), Noël Coward Music Index, accessed 16 March 2018
  7. ^ Langfield, p.74
  8. ^ Tyler, H. L. "On With The Dance", Ernestthesiger.org, accessed 16 March 2018


  • Coward, Noël (1965). The Lyrics of Noël Coward. London: Heinemann.
  • Langfield, Valerie (2002). Roger Quilter: His Life and Music. Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0851158716.