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Privates on Parade: A Play with Songs in Two Acts is a 1977 farce by English playwright Peter Nichols (book and lyrics), with music by Denis King.

Privates on Parade
Privates on Parade (play).jpg
Written byPeter Nichols
Date premiered17 February 1977
Place premieredAldwych Theatre
Original languageEnglish
SubjectBritish army ENSA group after World War II
Setting1948, South East Asia


The play is set around the activities and exploits of the fictional Song and Dance Unit South East Asia (SADUSEA), a British military concert party stationed in Singapore and Malaysia in the late 1940s during the Malayan Emergency. The drama draws upon Nichols' own experiences in the real-life Combined Services Entertainment, the postwar successor to ENSA, Entertainments National Service Association. The play is noteworthy, inter alia, for a series of musical numbers, performed by the male lead, parodying the style of such performers as Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich and Carmen Miranda.


It was premiered at Stratford by the Royal Shakespeare Company, before receiving its London première at the Aldwych Theatre on 17 February 1977, where it ran for 208 performances. This production won the 1977 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy.

It was revived in 1979 at the Derby Playhouse, and again in 1982 with Bruce Payne as Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright and Tim Barlow; another revival was produced in 1989.[1] A 2001 revival directed by Michael Grandage at the Donmar Warehouse had a cast including Roger Allam, James McAvoy, Malcolm Sinclair and Indira Varma, set design by Christopher Oram and choreography by Scarlett Mackmin.[2] Allam received the 2002 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance.

In 2012 it was staged at the Noël Coward Theatre in London as the opening production of the first season of work from the newly formed Michael Grandage Company, with Simon Russell Beale in the lead.

Film adaptationEdit

The play was adapted by Nichols and Handmade Films for a 1982 film with John Cleese, David Bamber and Denis Quilley, directed by Michael Blakemore.

Awards and nominationsEdit


  1. ^ Guernsey, Otis L.; Sweet, Jeffrey (1990). The Best Plays of 1989-1990: The Complete Broadway and Off-Broadway Sourcebook.
  2. ^ Loveridge, Lizzie (1 December 2001). "Privates on Parade". CurtainUp. Retrieved 2008-10-21.
  3. ^ Simon Jones at

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit