Beatrice Lillie was an actress with a larger than life personality. Arriving in London from Canada in 1914 Lillie quickly became the toast of the West End appearing in scores of revues. She then conquered Broadway becoming a star on both sides for the next six decades, and was at her most prolific between the two world wars, starring in countless hit productions. She married into the peerage and became known as Lady Peel but to her friends she was always Bea. Elegant, witty and sophisticated, some would also describe her as the ultimate eccentric.
An Evening With Beatrice Lillie opened in New York in 1952 advertised for a limited season but instead ran for 275 performances. The evening also featured Reginald Gardiner and at the two pianos were Eadie and Rack. After the Broadway production, for which Lillie received a Tony Award, the show toured the States and Canada for eleven months. In Britain, An Evening With started in Liverpool before transferring to London’s Globe Theatre in November 1954 where it ran for 195 performances with Leslie Bricusse and the aforementioned Eadie and Rack. From the West End the show toured the fringes of London to Streatham and Golders Green, then to Brighton and then on to Ireland with the show being last performed in Belfast. The recording was made at the end of the tour.
The structure of An Evening With gave Lillie the chance to clown in sketches in the first act and to give a solo cabaret performance in the second. Her genius at her stated age of fifty-six remained intact and there was little doubt she was the world’s most accomplished comedienne.
A brief visit to Hollywood brought a cameo performance in Round The World In 80 Days and playing the white slave trader in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Her retirement was spent in Henley-on-Thames where she died in January 1989 aged 94.
1. OVERTURE Eadie and Rack
4. FOLK SONG CYCLE
5. WEARY OF IT ALL
6. PICCOLO MARINA
7. THERE ARE TIMES
10. THERE ARE FAIRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF OUR GARDEN
11. THE PARTY’S OVER NOW
12. I APOLOGISE
13. THE FAN
14. THREE LITTLE FISHIES / HOLD TIGHT, HOLD TIGHT
15. Medley: I WANT TO GO BACK TO MICHIGAN / WHERE THE BLACK-EYED SUSANS GROW / LAZY / SUSANNA’S SQUEAKING SHOES
16. WIND ROUND MY HEART
17. HE WAS A GENTLEMAN
18. TRAINS Reginald Gardiner
19. TRAINS (Continued) Reginald Gardiner
20. THE PARTY’S OVER NOW