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Ivor Novello's...THE DANCING YEARS (1976) Musical Play.
Simply told it is a confection whereby a struggling Austrian
operetta composer meets and falls in love with an opera star who
nurtures his career. Her shady past as a woman with many liaisons
is brought to the fore by her current amour, a Prince who hopes to
eventually win her. Through a number of misunderstandings the
composer and singer eventually part. She is pregnant with his child
but he does not know this until the final Act. She marries the
prince and raises the child as their own. There is a touching
reunion/farewell scene where the composer sees his love for the
last time and for the first time meets his son.
Anthony Valentine as Rudi Kleiber, Celia Gregory as Maria
Ziegler, Susan Skipper as Grete, Neville Jason as Charles, Vera
Jakob as Hallie, Tim Brierley as Franzel, Joyce Grant as Cacille
The Singing Voices of: Marilyn Hill Smith for Maria, Ann
Howard for Cacille Kurl.
Produced for Television by Cecil Clarke, Directed by Richard
Bramall. Written by Ivor Novello.
The performances are excellent - Marilyn Hill Smith sings
superbly while Celia Gregory mimes the songs (and Ann Howard sings
for Joyce Grant), and Gregory is excellent at portraying the
vacillating, obsessive prima donna. Anthony Valentine in the
Novello part (composer Rudi Kleber) makes the dated dialogue seem
just plausible, and as Grete, the young girl who asks Rudi to give
her first refusal when she is old enough to marry him, a request
which has disastrous repercussions, Susan Skipper sings and dances
All in all, anyone who enjoys the old style of musical
comedy, when the cast really had to be able to sing (i.e. with
trained, light operatic voices), and a separate chorus of dancers
was customary, will be delighted with this production. For once,
it's true that they don't make them like this anymore.
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