Lock Up Your Daughters
The other day, when writing about an unknown British musical, The Four Musketeers, I mentioned that the composer Laurie Johnson had also written an earlier musical on the West End, Lock Up Your Daughters. That show, staged in 1959 -- and also largely unknown on this side of the Atlantic for the very good reason that it too never played here, for some reason -- is based on a novel by Henry Fielding, who wrote the book, Tom Jones.
What I didn't mention is that the lyrics for Lock Up Your Daughters were written by a fellow involved in his first major stage musical -- Lionel Bart. The very next year, his life would change when he went on to write both the lyrics and music to Oliver! But for this, his first major West End production, he only did the lyrics. And they're absolutely wonderful. Clever, lively, funny, whimsical, tender and fresh.
(I keep saying "major" because that same year, 1959, Bart had written a very small musical, Fings Ain't Wot They Used to Be, that opened about two months before Lock Up Your Daughters. But I'm pretty certain it didn't play on the West End, and was the equivalent of our off-Broadway. If not very off-Broadway...)
A movie of Lock Up Your Daughters was actually made in 1969, and had a very good cast, including Christopher Plummer, Susannah York -- who'd been in Tom Jones -- Glynnis Johns (the mother in Mary Poppins and star of A Little Night Music) and Jim Dale. Oddly, though, the cut out all the songs! Whether any of the music is used as background scoring, I don't know. This isn't the first time that's happened. When Billy Wilder made the film, Irma la Douce, based on the Broadway musical, that was done without the songs, as well. I'm sure there are other cases.
Anyway, I'll post a couple of the songs from Lock Up Your Daughters -- not just because it's a fun score that few people in the U.S. have ever heard, but also for the sheer history aspect of Lionel Bart's first stagework. But the begin with, I figure it's best to start with the title song. As I noted, it's filled with lively and clever rhymes, but one of my all-time favorites comes at the 1:00-minute mark. And as you'll note, this is an auspicious lyrical start for Mr. Bart and boded well for what was about to come.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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