If Love Were All

If-Love-Were-AllOriginal Off-Broadway Cast, 1999 (Varèse Sarabande) 4 Stars (4 / 5) In an introductory note, this diversion’s creator Sheridan Morley recalls that Noël Coward and Gertrude Lawrence acted together only twice, in Private Lives and Tonight at 8:30. At that, their performances in those vehicles were in limited runs in London and New York. Yet the two were in love with each other from their first meeting, when he was 13, she was 14, and they were leaving town for a tour; the word “platonic” hardly begins to explain their devotion. In Morley’s soigné revue, Harry Groener is Noël and Twiggy is Gertie. Together and separately, they toss off the master’s ditties as if strewing rose petals about the luxe set of a boulevard comedy. Groener doesn’t imitate Coward’s purr, because he needn’t do so; he’s got his own casual stylings. Since Lawrence was herself rather twiggy, Twiggy is a wonderful choice to sub for the legendary star. Her voice, nasal but always on pitch, is actually an improvement on Lawrence’s. Twiggy solos in “Parisian Pierrot” and duets with Groener in “You Were There” and “I’ll SeeYou Again.” Groener slides through “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” and “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington.” The talented pair also croon, banter, and tap dance in “Has Anybody Seen Our Ship?” — David Finkle