Lovers and Liars : A David Garrick Double Bill
There are many fantastic influences to take into account whilst researching 1920’s music. I immediately took to watching my favourite film, Some Like It Hot, an American comedy set in the twenties involving jazz bands and upbeat music. However, I soon learnt that this was not an entirely appropriate source for inspiration. Whilst set in the twenties, Some Like It Hot was made in the fifties and, of course, represents America at that time and not Britain.
Finding appropriate British music to establish the era of our piece was certainly more difficult. However, exploring the vast world of the British Music Hall provided the beginnings of inspiration for the production’s sound. Music Hall was a form of variety entertainment involving comedy, popular song, theatre and speciality acts which became popular in the nineteenth century. Whilst these evenings of entertainment began to decline after World War I, the 1920’s still saw many great performers and band leaders.
I was inspired, first of all, by the descriptions of a certain English band leader, Billy Cotton. Cotton set up his own orchestra, the London Savannah Band, in 1924 which began to tend towards a Music Hall style of performance. This band leader would often go into comedy skits with his band between songs, adding visual and verbal humour to the act. I found this to be influential for The Lying Valet as the Savannah Band’s music reflected their comic style and we were looking for a jazz sound to work alongside the comedy in our production.
Unfortunately, I am unable to use the music of Billy Cotton’s band for our piece as, although they performed in the 1920’s, much of their music was not recorded until the 1930’s. However, they provided a valuable influence and allowed me to identify the type of music suitable for The Lying Valet. As we draw nearer to the production, I have been listening to Noel Coward’s music which was often covered by British dance bands in hotel ballrooms throughout the twenties. Songs such as ‘Dance Little Lady’ were covered by the likes of Bert Ambrose and his orchestra. Ambrose was born British, but spent some time playing music in America before returning to Britain in the 1920’s. His time in the States evidently influenced his band as they played in an extremely upbeat jazz style. This brought more life to Coward’s music and I’ve found recordings such as this to be suitable for our production as they echo the upbeat and comic influence I found in Billy Cotton.
Some like It Hot (2012) [DVD] 20th Century Fox Entertainment