BEYOND THE FRINGE

by Tony Maygarden

I've always always been fond of Beyond the Fringe. A satirical revue of short skits by the "zany" quartet of Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Dudley Moore, Beyond the Fringe is well known for its irreverence and fast paced wit. It originated as a special attraction at the Edinburgh Festival of 1960. It opened as a stage production in London in May, 1961. The original cast came with the show to the U.S., where it opened on Broadway in September of 1962.

I've had the Capitol Records LP of the '62 production for quite a while. Not long ago I was excited to acquire an original English pressing of the '61 Beyond the Fringe show on Parlophone Records. I quickly realized it was not exactly the same Beyond the Fringe. Though performed by the same four, the skit lineup is very different. Even more intriguing was that inside the cover was a playbill for an English theatrical production of Beyond the Fringe -- not the original with Bennett, Cook, Miller & Moore, but with yet a different skit lineup and a totally different cast!

Beyond the Fringe 1961 pic

1961 English Parlophone edition of Beyond the Fringe.
Parlophone label: gold print on black.

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1961 Fortune Theatre production released on Parlophone (U.K.) with Bennett, Cook, Miller and Moore:
Side 1
1) Royal Box
2) The Heat-Death of the Universe
3) Bollard
4) Deutscher Chansons (song parody by Dudley Moore)
5) T.V.P.M.
6) Aftermyth of War (W.W.II documentary spoof)
Side 2
1) Civil War (about nuclear war)
2) Real Class
3) Little Miss Britten (song by Dudley Moore)
4) Black Equals White (a racial satire)
5) Take a Pew (a sermon)
6) The End of the World (a religious fanatic describes the end of the world)
Recorded at the Fortune Theatre, London, under the supervision of George Martin.

1962 Broadway Cast production released on Capitol Records (U.S.) with Bennett, Cook, Miller and Moore
Side 1
1) Bollard
2) The Sadder and Wiser Beaver
3) Deutscher Chansons
4) Take a Pew
5) Aftermyth of War (different than the '61 version)
Side 2
1) Sitting on the Bench
2) And the Same to You (Dudley Moore solo piano)
3) Portrait From Memory
4) So That's the Way You Like It (Shakespeare spoof)
5) The End of the World
A Nine O'clock Theatre Production. (The label states the album was recorded in England.)

Beyond the Fringe playbill

English theatrical production playbill (circa 1962? with this cast taking over from the original four?) for Beyond the Fringe at the Fortune Theatre. The cast: Terence Brady, Joe Melia, Robin Ray & Bill Wallis. Skits unique to this production include: Steppes in the Right Direction, Man Bites God, Man of Principal, Words...and Things, The Suspense is Killing Me and Frank Speaking. They also perform skits from the other productions.

The skits were written by all four members of the troupe. The music was either written or arranged by Dudley Moore.

Before Beyond the Fringe, Alan Bennett was a lecturer in history at Oxford; Peter Cook wrote the revue Pieces of Eight and would go on to later fame in such films as Bedazzled; Jonathan Miller was a pathologist; and Dudley Moore found success with Peter Cook, and later as a comic actor on his own in such Hollywood films as "10" and Arthur. Moore had a degree in music from Oxford, was a gifted classical organist, and also fronted his own jazz combo.

Beyond the Fringe 1962 pic

1962 Broadway Cast on Capitol

Want to buy the Capitol LP edition of
Beyond the Fringe? Try GEMM! 

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