PE0233. FOLLOW THE CROWD (Irving Berlin), w.Jacques Heuvel Cond.Empire Theatre Ensemble; Robert Hale, Joseph Coyne, Blanche Tomlin, Fay Compton, Tom Walls, Eric Courtland, Ethel Levey (Mrs. George M. Cohan), etc.; Irving Berlin (from a Private Record). (England) Palaeophonics 115, recorded 1916, Complete, as Recorded, w.Elaborate ‘The Play’ 20pp. Brochure replete w.photos from the London production & facsimile of original brochure. FOLLOW THE CROWD was produced at the Empire Theatre, London, on 19 Feb., 1916, after the Broadway Globe Theatre production, 1915 (originally titled STOP! LOOK! LISTEN!).
“STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! is a musical revue in three acts with music and lyrics by Irving Berlin and book by Harry B. Smith. The piece had additional music by Henry Kailimai and Jack Alau and additional lyrics by G. H. Stover and Sylvester Kalama. STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! opened on Broadway at the Globe Theatre on Christmas Day, 1915, and ran for 105 performances. The revue was produced by Charles Dillingham and directed by R.H. Burnside. The music director was Robert Hood Bowers, and Robert McQuinn designed the sets and costumes. The London production, under the title FOLLOW THE CROWD opened at the Empire Theatre, 19 February 1916.
Cast recordings, as thought of today, did not exist in the United States essentially until the advent of the long playing record. However, in London casts often assembled to record fairly complete scores on 78s, and quite a bit of STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! was recorded in 1916 by the London cast….”
– Benjamin Sears
“Joseph Coyne, sometimes billed as Joe Coyne, was an American-born singer and actor, known for his appearances in leading roles in Edwardian musical comedy in London. Coyne was born in New York and made his stage début there at Niblo's Garden when he was 16. He appeared for some years in Vaudeville, as part of a double-act, and moved to the legitimate theatre, joining the Rose Lyall Dramatic Company.
In 1901, Coyne made his first appearance on the London stage, playing opposite Edna May in THE GIRL FROM UP THERE. After that engagement, he returned to the U.S. until 1906, when he made his second West End appearance. In 1907, he made a great success as Danilo in the original London production of THE MERRY WIDOW, which he followed with a succession of romantic leading roles including Conder in THE DOLLAR PRINCESS (1909), Tony in THE QUAKER GIRL (1910), Teddy in THE DANCING MISTRESS (1912) and Sandy in THE GIRL FROM UTAH (1913).
After the First World War, Coyne played Robert Street in GOING UP (1918), Jimmy Smith in NO NO NANETTE (1925) and T. Boggs John in QUEEN HIGH (1926). Among his leading ladies, The Times listed Edna May, Gertie Millar, Lily Elsie, Constance Collier, Gertrude Lawrence and Binnie Hale.
Coyne's last appearance was in APRON STRINGS at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1931, in the role of Ezra Hunniwell. He settled in Virginia Water, near Windsor, where he died of pneumonia, aged 73.
Fay Compton, the English actress and singer, whose long career began in The Follies with her first husband H.G. Pelissier at the Apollo Theatre, London, in 1911, afterwards played in a number of musical pieces including FOLLOW THE CROWD, which opened at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, London, on 19 February 1916. The song she sings here is Irving Berlin’s ‘Take Off a Little Bit’ from that show, accompanied by studio singers Bessie Jones and Ena Bennie, and the Empire Theatre Orchestra conducted by Jacques Heuvel.
Ethel Levey appeared in burlesque theatres and on the vaudeville circuit for some years gaining modest success. During this period of her career, she met fellow vaudevillian George M. Cohan and they were married in 1900. As Cohan’s star began to rise so did Levey’s and she appeared in starring roles in several of his Broadway musical comedies, including THE GOVERNOR’S SON (1901), LITTLE JOHNNY JONES (1904) and GEORGE WASHINGTON JR. (1906). Not long after this, Levey and Cohan divorced and went their separate professional ways. Any thoughts that Levey might have owed her fame and popularity only to her association with Cohan were set aside when she proved able to retain her following, as she continued to perform in many shows. She was in London in 1912 for HULLO, RAGTIME, but was mainly active touring America on the vaudeville circuit although she did perform again on Broadway, including appearing in Irving Berlin’s revue WATCH YOUR STEP (1914). Levey continued to enjoy a successful career through succeeding decades, and was again in New York in 1945 when she played Mme. Sacher in MARINKA.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Though Irving Berlin made relatively few commercial recordings, he did sing in public throughout his career, beginning with his days as a singing waiter in the early years of the 20th century and continuing through his appearances in his service show THIS IS THE ARMY in the 1940s….[An excerpt from ] FOLLOW THE CROWD, was discovered in the early '90s….Berlin has a thin, wheezy tenor that even today would deny him a singing career, but his feel for his own lyrics is good, and he sells his songs well.”
- William Ruhlmann, allmusic.com
“The first counterpoint song Irving Berlin published was ‘Play a Simple Melody’ in 1914 for his first show WATCH YOUR STEP. This is the earliest example of a ‘conflict’ counterpoint song….The primary melody of the ‘Simple Melody’ is similar to the popular ballads Berlin was releasing at the time embracing the sounds of past. The counterpoint melody in the song, referred to as ‘Musical Demon’, represents the influence of ragtime in popular music.”
- Donald Romano
“If you are interested in what original audiences of early 20th century English operetta and musical comedy heard, there is a great source for such recordings – the record label Paleophonics. Dominic Combe prepares CDs for them from his huge collection of shellacs and a few cylinders.
I came across these somewhat hard-to-find CDs on the website of the mail-order company NORBECK, PETERS AND FORD, (norpete.com) which is specialized in historical performances from the beginning of recorded sound all the way through to the 1960s.
There are now over fifty Paleophonics CDs, and more are being prepared or scheduled for future release. Each CD comes with a lavishly illustrated program booklet with reviews, information about the shows and fantastic publicity photographs, and artwork from the original London productions, in the form of reproductions of the magazine PLAY PICTORIAL.”
- Thomas Krebs, OPERETTA RESEARCH CENTER - PALEOPHONICS - A JOURNEY TO THE DAWN OF RECORDED SOUND IN MUSICAL COMEDY, 1 July, 2020