Oh What a Lovely War!

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Oh What a Lovely War! [1] is a 1963 musical developed by Joan Littlewood (1914–2002) [2] and her ensemble at The Theatre Workshop at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, London. The central theme revolves around exposing the maniacal greed of war mongers, the self interest of politicians and the manipulative strategies of financiers, it does with wit, broad comedy, songs, and the style of the music hall.

The original text

Based on Charles Chilton's [3] radio musical for the BBC Home Service, called The Long Long Trail about World War I.

Translations and adaptations

Performance history in South Africa

1969: Presented by the University of Cape Town's Speech and Drama Department in March at the Little Theatre, directed by Mavis Taylor, starring Sharon Lazarus, Janice Honeyman, Judith Cornell, Vicki Hertz.

1975: Staged by Rhodes University Drama Department, directed by Fred Hagemann, the cast including James Whyle, Andrew Buckland and Janet Connor (later Janet Buckland).

1978: Presented by CAPAB at the Nico Malan Theatre, directed by Mavis Taylor, opening 3 May. The large cast included Peter Cartwright, Liz Dick, Mary Dreyer, Roger Dwyer, Johan Esterhuizen, Michelle Fine, Di Flack, Philip Godawa, Pieter Joubert, Miranda Kark, Brian Kennedy, Blaise Koch, Chris McWilliams, Christopher Prophet, Paul Slabolepszy, Mees Xteen, Len Sparrow-Hawk, Neville Thomas, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Marko van der Colff, Murray Woodfield and Suzanne Davies. Musical director Graham Scott, costumes John Caviggia, lighting John T. Baker.

1980: Staged by PACT Drama, directed by Geoffrey Sutherland with musical direction by Bill Fairley and choreography by Wally Green. The cast included: Pamela Gien, Bobby Heaney, Andre Jacobs, Gay Lambert, Michael McCabe, Judy Page, Etienne Puren, Jonathan Rands, Michael Richard, Erica Rogers, Deon Stewardson, Amanda Strydom, Jonathan Taylor, Peter Terry, James White and Murray Woodfield.

1993: A student production by Wits University in April/May. Directed by Fred Hagemann. Choreography by Fred Hagemann and assisted by Ren'ee Sigel and members of the company. Assistant director: Barbie Rubin. Designed by Sarah Roberts. Lighting design by Gerry Couglan. The Wits Orchestra conducted by Professor Walter Mony. Cast: Don Boroughs, Jessica Chalmers, George Coutsoudis, Crispin Denys, Linda Hart, Dena Kopenhager, Natalie Lotkin, Kim Michelow, Nick Nicolaou, Lindani Nkosi, Rodney Sandwith, Barbara Shapiro, Cassandra Steyn, David Steyn, Dalene Turner, Clive Vanderwagen, Nicki Venter. The band: Rozanne Mentzel, Lisa Homann, Millicent Mailula, Wolsey Mailula, Ceri Moelwyn-Hughes, Innocent Mlambo, Quinton Gilbertson, Ishmael Khambule, James French, Rudolph van Dyk, Colin Snaddon, David Hönigsberg, Timothy Hyslop


Inskip, 1972.

CAPAB theatre programme, 1978.

PACT theatre programme, 1980.

Programme of a Wits student production of Oh What a Lovely War in April-May 1993.

Petru & Carel Trichardt theatre programme collection.

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