The Very Thought of You, program cover

The Very Thought of You, production image


The Very Thought of You
songs and souvenirs of Al Bowlly

In his heyday, Al Bowlly sold more records in the UK than Bing Crosby. When he sang with Lew Stone’s band in the Monseigneur Resturant in Piccadilly, shop-girls and debutantes mobbed the stage door. A lady from Dulwich sent him hand-made silk knickers through the post…

In this new musical play by West country author Tony Staveacre, Al’s second wife conjures up memories of the legendary crooner through the songs he made famous – songs which are still selling today on CD, although Al was killed in an air-raid in 1941. From the sweetshop in Bournemouth where she ended up after the war, Marji recalls a hectic musical journey that links Raffles Hotel, Berlin in the Depression, the Rainbow Room in New York, the Grand Canyon, the Kursaal at Scheveningen in Holland, the night-clubs of the West End and the variety theatres of the North.

‘ The Very Thought of You
… and I forget to do
Those little ordinary things that everyone ought to do…’

This is a play about a singer, played by a singer, Kate McNab.
The songs tell the story, and recall a time when dance music was played over the radio, while at home listeners rolled up the carpet and asked their friends in, and pretended they were on the dance floor of the Café de Paris in white tie and tails. Class and aspiration, high society and snobbery: ‘The Girl who Danced with the Man who Danced with a Girl who Danced with the Prince of Wales’. Fame and fantasy: the joy of music, a holiday without strings: sentimentality and sexuality, the sweet and the sour.

The well-made popular songs of the 1930s still work their magic on audiences today, as interpreted by ballad singers young and old – Katie Melua, Jamie Cullum, Harry Connick Junior, Rod Stewart and Englebert Humperdink ‘The Very Thought of You’ sets these evergreen songs in the context of their times, and tells the bitter-sweet story of one of the first heroes of popular music in this country…

‘ Roll Up the Carpet,
Push back the chairs,
Get some music on the radio
Don’t mind the neighbours who live down stairs:
They went out to see a show.
Roll up your troubles, fold up your cares,
Just forget you haven’t got a dime;
Roll up the carpet and push back the chairs,
You’re bound to have a wonderful time…’

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