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Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley Composer

The Roar of the Greasepaint (The Smell of the Crowd), musical

Performances: 1
Tracks: 1
Musicology (work in progress):
  • The Roar of the Greasepaint (The Smell of the Crowd), musical
    Year: 1965
    • Where Would You Be Without Me?
The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd (1964) was the second musical to be co-written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Earlier, the two had created Stop the World—I Want to Get Off (1961), a highly successful show, for which Newley was also the director and the star. Both of these shows, in a mime sort of fashion, address different issues by concentrating on one singular character who encounters human problems along the way. In Stop the World, this character is Littlechap, a simple man who deals with the challenges of balancing a career with a family. For Roar of the Greasepaint, Cocky is the name of the featured individual. Cocky is a member of the lower class of society, who are governed by the elite. This upper class is represented by Sir, played by Willoughby Goddard, who has supreme power over Cocky, and all those of his kind. Cocky then comes across a character called The Negro, who convinces him to stand up to the oppressive force in his life. After Cocky confronts Sir, it is resolved that they must share power, in order for the two classes to survive.

The first production of The Roar of the Greasepaint was mounted in Nottingham, England, on August 3, 1964, at the Theatre Royale. For this version, Newley served as the director, but did not act as the primary character, Cocky. Instead, Norman Wisdom played this part in this beginning stage of the musical. This production did not make the trip to London, surprisingly. David Merrick was in attendance at one of these English showings, though, and purchased the rights of the musical for production on Broadway. After a try-out tour that lasted for over three months, the show was first seen on Broadway at the Shubert Theater on May 16, 1965. The plot was slightly changed for this version, as Cocky was not quite as feeble, and Sir was not quite as imposing. Cyril Ritchard portrayed Sir, and for the Broadway production, Newley himself played Cocky. Also, this American version was Gillian Lynne's first Broadway credit for choreography. Merrick's production stayed in the New York theater for a run of 232 performances. This was a pleasing run, but far from the great amount of success that Stop the World experienced.

Newley has had quite an impressive career, as a performer of many different talents in his native England and in America. As a teenager, he appeared in a 1948 film version of Oliver Twist, before starring in a number of other British movies. He also had a few hit songs, for which he served as the composer and singer. After some appearances on television, he helped to create the two musicals previously discussed. Next, the performer moved his talents to the night club scene. In 1972, another stage musical, The Good Old, Bad Old Days, was produced, along the same lines as the previous two. Newley later appeared in Chaplin (1983), an American musical.

© Chris Boyes, Rovi
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