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18th-23rd September 2006

Show HandbillOh What a Lovely War is a theatrical chronicle of the First World War, told through the songs and documents of the period. First performed by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, London in 1963, it received the acclaim of London audiences and critics. It won the Grand Prix of the Théâtre des Nations festival in Paris that year and has gone on to become a classic of the modern theatre. In 1969 a film version was made which extended the play's popular success. The play is now on the standard reading list of schools and universities around the UK and was revived by the Royal National Theatre in 1998.

PierrotThis is an exciting and challenging show for both audience and cast. You cannot fail to be moved by the sentiments, whilst having a jolly good time watching the performance. There are great sing-along tunes - “Goodbyee”, “Tipperary” and, of course, the title song - but also moments to make you think and reflect on why we go to war and the effects upon the lives of ordinary people at that time. The show was originally devised by Joan Littlewood’s Stratford East Theatre Workshop and, with the help of Charles Chilton, the script was finalised. The action progresses through scenes that show the attitudes of the soldiers, their training and recruitment, interspersed with songs and more serious comments about war. If you like your theatre intelligent and entertaining, then this is for you! There’s lots of dancing, laughing and crying to be had in a show like this. You’d be mad to miss it.

Click Here for PDF of Show Programme    Link to free Adobe Reader

Song List

Act One

1. Overture
2. Row, Row, Row
3. Your King and Country Want You
4. Belgium Put the Kibosh on the Kaiser
5. Are We Downhearted?
6. Hold Your Hand Out Naughty Boy
7. I'll Make a Man of You
8. Pack Up Your Troubles
9. Hitchy Koo
10. Heilige Nacht
11. Christmas Day in the Cookhouse
12. Good Byee

Act Two

13. Oh It's a Lovely War
14. Gassed Last Night
15. There's a Long Long Trail
16. Hush Here Comes a Whizzbang
17. They Were Only Playing Leapfrog
18. I Wrote a Tunic
19. Joe Soap's Army
20. When This Lousy War Is Over
21. Wash Me in the Water
22. I Want to Go Home
23. Bells of Hell
24. Keep the Home Fires Burning
25. Chanson de Craonne
26. I Don't Want to Be a Soldier
27. They Didn't Believe Me




THE GREAT WAR by JOY DIXON, Department of History

(extract from a study guide, for complete version click here)

Your country needs youThe First World War — the “Great War” of 1914-1918 — was a new kind of war. Where wars in earlier periods had been conducted between professional armies, the Great War was a total war, conducted between entire populations. Millions of men (over six million from Britain alone) went from being civilians to being soldiers almost overnight. These new soldiers faced a new and unfamiliar kind of war. After the first few months, free manoeuvring in Belgium and Northern France had given way to a monotonous war of attrition in which thousands of men were killed and wounded in battles that dragged on for weeks. Men who went to war believing it was a glamorous adventure found themselves immobilized and powerless in trenches and foxholes, and many who survived the war suffered from “shell shock” or from chronic illness as a result of gas attacks. Others suffered the loss of limbs or of sight or hearing. The greatest “achievements” of western civilization — its scientific and technological prowess — seemed to have turned on their makers, as new military technologies like trench mortars, gas, or tanks produced new and horrific injuries. By the time the war ended on 11 November 1918, over 10 million had been killed and another 30 million wounded. Russia sustained the heaviest casualties: over 7.5 million by 1917.

Millions of soldiers — many of them young men — lost their lives in the effort to exchange a few feet of muddy trench with the enemy. The harshness of life in the trenches — where lice and rats took over where the enemy left off and where, as in the winter of 1916-1917, hot tea could freeze within minutes and rations turned into blocks of ice — created new bonds between men fighting on both sides, and new anger and resentment against those who stayed comfortably “behind the lines”. But the war also required the mobilization of whole societies, and the restructuring of the nation to put it on a war footing. On the home front, women moved into new kinds of work to replace the men who had gone to war, or faced rationing and food shortages. Other women joined new military organizations like the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, set up in 1917 to solve the problem of providing sufficient “manpower” for the army, or went to the front as nurses with Voluntary Aid Detachments.

The war became a “world war” in late August 1914, when Japan declared war on Germany. The French were heavily dependent on North African and Senegalese recruits, and regiments were raised in India and across the British Empire. For countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the tragedies of Vimy Ridge and Gallipoli came to be remembered as battles that forged new nations. When the war ended the world mourned a “lost generation”. In every combatant country in Europe, agriculture and industry suffered extensive setbacks. Russia had been entirely transformed by revolution. The German Kaiser had been deposed, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had collapsed. The United States was emerging as a new world power, and European dominance in international affairs was significantly undermined. And the Great War — far from being the war to end all wars — ushered in one of the most violent centuries on record.