Milwaukee Chamber Theatre
Press Release

Noel Coward friend & expert Geoffrey Johnson to speak at MCT on April 20

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama, Geoffrey Johnson began his theatre career briefly off and on Broadway as an actor and then became a stage manager where he worked with Noël Coward on two of his American productions.

By - Apr 7th, 2016 12:45 pm

Milwaukee, WI . . . Milwaukee Chamber Theatre (MCT) welcomes Geoffrey Johnson, longtime friend and representative of Noël Coward and a Trustee of the Noël Coward Foundation, as he shares personal reflections on the playwright. From Ten Chimneys to Jamaica, New York to London, we’ll be treated to an intimate look at the last decade of Coward’s life. Randy Bryant, Executive Director of Ten Chimneys – where Coward was a frequent guest – will moderate the presentation. “Remembering Noël” will be at the Broadway Theatre Center on Wednesday, April 20 as part of MCT’s ViewPoints series in conjunction with our production of Coward’s FALLEN ANGELS. The ViewPoints presentation is free and open to the public and will begin at 6:30 p.m. immediately before the 7:30 p.m. evening performance of FALLEN ANGELS.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama, Geoffrey Johnson began his theatre career briefly off and on Broadway as an actor and then became a stage manager where he worked with Noël Coward on two of his American productions. The ‘Coward Years,’ as Johnson has often called them were “outstanding — working with and knowing the genius of the man gave me the opportunity to spend time in London, Switzerland and Jamaica. I not only knew Noël Coward well but I met everyone from the Lunts to Elizabeth Taylor to Greta Garbo and a few royals along the way!”

After Coward’s death, Johnson co-founded the distinguished Broadway and London casting office, Johnson-Liff Associates, which cast over 100 productions in the US and abroad. Johnson’s office was responsible for the casting of Broadway’s three longest running shows, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, LES MISERABLES, and CATS.  Some of the other productions he cast over 30 years were THE PRODUCERS, AMADEUS, DREAMGIRLS, THE DRESSER, SUNSET BOULEVARD and KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, as well as a numerous films and television shows. The casting office was presented with an honorary Tony Award for excellence in the theatre and a Drama Desk Award.

Sir Noël Coward (1899-1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit and flamboyance, and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” Born in London, he made his professional stage debut at twelve. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Some of his best-known plays include FALLEN ANGELS, HAY FEVER, PRESENT LAUGHTER, PRIVATE LIVES, BLITHE SPIRIT and DESIGN FOR LIVING. Coward composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. His stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works. Coward was a very close friend of acting couple Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. He was a regular guest at their estate, Ten Chimneys, in Genesee Depot, Wisconsin and the main house even features a “Noël Coward bedroom.” In the 1950s Coward achieved fresh success as a cabaret performer, performing his own songs, such as “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” and “I Went to a Marvelous Party.” He was knighted in 1970.

Noël Coward’s FALLEN ANGELS performances will take place April 14 – May 1, 2016 in the Broadway Theatre Center’s Cabot Theatre located at 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.  Tickets are available at the Broadway Theatre Center Box Office, by phone at (414) 291-7800, or online at www.milwaukeechambertheatre.com.

“Remembering Noël” a ViewPoints presentation by Geoffrey Johnson on Wednesday, April 20 at 6:30 p.m. is free of charge and open to the public. The presentation will be held in The Skylight Bar & Bistro on the second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center, 158 N. Broadway in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.  The Skylight Bar & Bistro will be open for dinner and refreshments at 5:30 p.m. on April 20. For more information, call (414) 276-8842.

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