Cover to Original Cast RecordingBETJEMANIA

A musical entertainment based on the works of Sir John Betjeman

Words by John Betjeman: Music by John Gould : Devised by David Benedictus and John Gould

Shaw Theatre London - December 8, 1976 (season)


When in 1969 a projected show about and with our Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman failed to materialise. I thought I'd keep the four settings that were left over with the vague thought that they might be of some use at a later date. In fact it wasn't until 1976 that, having in the meanwhile knocked off a few more Betjeman songs just for the hell of it, I decided to have a cautious stab at mounting a Betjeman show of my own.

It all happened very quickly: David Benedictus and I devised a sort of revue and in March 1976 I and a couple of friends (Gay Soper and Barry Stokes) opened a tentative 55 minute lunchtime show at the Orange Tree fringe theatre, Richmond, Surrey. The subsequent queues around the block seemed to prove we were on to something and with Sir John's approval expanded our lunchtime version to two hours and presented it as an evening event.

ENODOC Productions was then formed (St. Enodoc is Sir John's church in Cornwall) and a new production was presented at the Key Theatre, Peterborough, newly designed by Susie Caulcutt, followed by a season at the Shaw Theatre London, where it opened on the 8th December, 1976.

The critics seemed to enjoy themselves and the BBC broadcast a radio version on Boxing Day and again the following Easter. A major tour was mounted the following year and in the summer of 1980 a production was presented for The City of London Festival.

If any of the songs make you feel you'd like to go back to, or even read for the first time the original poems by Sir John Betjeman - do. They're not half bad.

JOHN GOULD September 1980.

Musical Numbers:

The personnel listed are those from the original production.

    1. Cornish Cliffs - Barry, Gay & Rowland
    2. Hunter Trials - Gay
    3. Our Padre - Company
    4. Lenten Thoughts of a High Anglican - Rowland
    5. Christmas - Company
    6. Dorset - Barry
    7. Inexpensive Progress/Executive - John & Company
    8. Slough - Rowland
    9. In Westminster Abbey - Gay
    10. Station Syren - Company
    11. A Russell Flint - Barry
    12. In a Bath Tea Shop - Gay & Barry
    13. Cat Hill - (from ''Cricket Master'') Rowland & Company
    14. The 'Varsity Students' Rag - Company
    15. Eunice - Barry
    16. Monody on the Death of a Platonist Bank Clerk - John
    17. The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadagon Hotel - Gay, Rowland & Barry
    18. Sun and Fun - Gay
    19. In Memorium Walter Ramsden - Company
    20. And In All the Time the Waves (from ''Beside the Seaside'') / Golf - Company


Cast recording (Rowland Davies, John Gould, Gay Soper & Barry Stokes - TER 1002