Noel Gay - Shaw Festival Theatre

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Noel Gay

NOEL GAY (1898-1954) was one of Britain’s most prolific popular composers. The son of a colliery clerk, he was born Reginald Moxon Armitage in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in northern England. He began playing the family piano before his legs could reach the pedals, and at age eight won a music scholarship to the prestigious Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Wakefield. At age fifteen he took up a music scholarship at the Royal College of Music in London, and by eighteen he was already director of music and resident organist at a church in Soho. He went on to study composition at Cambridge, emerging with a BMus and an MA, and seemed destined for a career in serious and ecclesiastical music.

While at Cambridge, however, Armitage developed a flair for writing popular songs for undergraduate revues, and was soon contributing songs to West End revues as well. In 1926, invited to write the entire score for a revue and concerned that church authorities might not appreciate seeing their bright young organist’s name in lights, he invented his pen-name after seeing a poster for another revue starring Noel Coward and Maisie Gay. His career took off: at one point he had four hit shows running in London at the same time. His biggest success, however, was Me and My Girl, arguably the greatest West End success of its era. Altogether, Noel Gay wrote the music for 26 London shows, 28 feature films, and another 45 songs, one of which “Tondeleyo,” was the first song ever to be synchronized in a British talking picture. He also founded the Noel Gay Agency, which is still one of the leading British musical and talent agencies, run by first his son and then his grandsons.

At The Shaw
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Me and My Girl

Can a Cockney man give up his old life – and love! – to join the upper class? The sparkling and fun British hit musical.

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