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Courtesy Ottawa Fringe.

Fringe Review: A Talent To Amuse: The Noël Coward Story

By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier on June 20, 2022

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A Talent To Amuse: The Noël Coward Story
Created by Melanie Gall
Produced by Melanie Gall (St. Albert)
60m | PG | Cabaret

Life is a cabaret! Melanie Gall’s A Talent to Amuse: The Noël Coward Story tells the biography of well-known actor, singer and playwright Noël Coward in a cabaret-style show, weaving some of his biggest hits in parallel with his major life events.

Using photos to show Coward through the ages, Gall tells the audience about his early successes, failures and his constant innovation to do what he loved most. Coward represented his generation, and since then has become a gay icon and fiercely admired for his ability to always be himself and speak his mind unapologetically.

As theatre fans, it was amazing to learn more about one of the greats. This is the first time Melanie Gall’s production has been performed and her passion for Coward’s life and music shines through from beginning to end. She often breaks the fourth wall, engaging with the audience, which occasionally works by adding extra humour to the show, while other times it pulls the audience out of the story and becomes a distraction from the core plot. The show moved quickly, though the ending felt a little rushed to keep within its allotted time.

This was our first time in the Club SAW theatre this festival (and Gall’s opening night) and the first time we were in a Fringe venue with no closed door to the performance area. The main exit door to a bar area was constantly opening and closing throughout the show and was very loud and distracting. Hopefully for future shows the Fringe crew can find a way to keep that door closed during performances. We were sitting near the back which may have made the sound more audible, but if Gall heard the disruption, she never let it show as she gave beautiful renditions and melodies of Coward’s songbook, completely unfazed.

Whether you are well versed in Noël Coward’s work, or just recognize his name, this show will pull you into his life, his vast catalogue, and his impact on the world of theatre and pop culture. The depths of Gall’s research impressively covers the deep ins and outs of Coward’s life, leaving no stone unturned when learning more about the man behind the songs.


A Talent To Amuse: The Noël Coward Story by Melanie Gall is playing at Club SAW (67 Nicholas Street) until June 26, 2022. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at https://apt613.ca/category/festival/fringe/.

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