B1562. GERTRUDE LAWRENCE. A Star Danced [Autobiography]. Garden City, NY, Doubleday, 1945. 238pp. Photos on endpapers; DJ.
“Gertrude Lawrence was an English actress, singer and musical comedy performer known for her stage appearances in the West End theatre district of London and on Broadway. In 1923, Noël Coward developed his first musical revue, LONDON CALLING!, specifically for Lawrence. The show's success led its producer to create ANDRÉ CHARLOT'S LONDON REVUE OF 1924, which he brought to Broadway with Lawrence, Lillie, Buchanan, and Constance Carpenter. It was so successful it moved to a larger theater to accommodate the demand for tickets and extended its run. After it closed, the show toured the US and Canada. CHARLOT'S REVUE OF 1926, starring Lawrence, Lillie, and Buchanan, opened on Broadway in late 1925. In his review, Alexander Woollcott singled out Lawrence, calling her ‘the personification of style and sophistication’ and ‘the ideal star’. In 1936, Lawrence and Coward starred in TONIGHT AT 8:30, a cycle of ten one-act plays he had written specifically for the two of them.
Lawrence returned to the musical stage in LADY IN THE DARK in 1941. It originally had been planned as a play with recurrent musical themes for Katharine Cornell by Moss Hart, Kurt Weill, and Ira Gershwin, but by the time the first act was completed it was clear it was very much a musical, Cornell agreed was beyond her capability as a performer. Soon after Hart met Lawrence at a rehearsal for a revue designed to raise funds for British War Relief, and he offered her the role of Liza Elliott, a magazine editor undergoing psychoanalysis to better understand why both her professional and personal lives are filled with indecision. The show was very ambitious and stretched the star's talents for singing, dancing, and acting. Her performance prompted Richard Watts of the New York Herald Tribune to call her ‘the greatest feminine performer in the American Théâtre’, and Brooks Atkinson described her as ‘a goddess’ in his review in the New York Times. She remained with the show throughout its Broadway run and its subsequent national tour over the next three years.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron