Catalogue of Works
Music by Betty Roe. Book and Lyrics by Marian Lines.
The musical was commissioned by Oakham School, Rutland and first performed in 1987.
Crowds has proved to be one of Roe and Lines' most enduring musicals with a 2011 production of the "short version" (omitting most of the dialogue) in Southampton and the numbers Away from the Crowds and Music Hall Song are regularly excerpted.
The musical items Away from the Crowds, Film Premiere and Music Hall Song also appear in Volume 2 of Songs from the Betty Roe Shows.
Marian Lines' Production notes;
Crowds takes place out of doors in and around the centre of London between the wars.
A bare stage with simple, brief suggestion of location is needed.
If a cyclorama and projector are available, photographs of the relevant occasions could be used as backdrop to the scenes. The use of lighting, sound-effects, radio commentary, news boys/girls shouting headlines, and the calendar event posters are essential to the sweep of the drama. Costumes should be appropriate but not complicated.
Because of the rapid sequence of the scenes, actors should be urged not to race through them, but to fully exploit any humour, pathos or historical significance.
Betty Roe's Musical notes
The full score includes instrumental parts for B-flat melody instruments (saxophone and clarinet) and double bass). The parts are available on hire from the publisher, Music Sales.
The melody line only is printed in the full score but 4-part harmony is given in the choral score and is to be preferred.
40ish QUEENIE COTTLE Matriarch - runs coffee stall - tough and sharp-tongued - never loses a battle with family or customers - Ma to those she likes.
40ish BERT COTTLE Devoted to Ma - helps on the stall - plays the spoons when crowds gather.
19 WINNIE COTTLE Eldest daughter of Ma and Pa - pretty - flirtatious - lots of boy-friends.
21 JOSHUA COTTLE Earnest, high-minded - after the war joined Police against family advice.
15 LILY COTTLE Youngest daughter. In love with the silver screen.
10 HORACE COTTLE Evil little boy - sells evening papers - always in trouble - permanent cold-in-the-nose - weedy but frequently in fights.
30ish ETHELWILKINS Ma Cottle's sister - flower-seller in Leicester Square - forever moaning - always most interested in people's misfortunes - likes a drop of port.
30ish OLL Y WILKINS Husband (not very willingly) of Ethel - busker - plays banjo and sings - collects flowers from market.
22 'BAD' BILLIE WILKINS Son of Ethel and OIly - con-artist (spot-the-lady) - pickpocket when times are hard - racecourse tout - charming and plausible.
12 FLORENCE WILKINS 'Little Flo' - sings to her dad's banjo.
20 STANLEY Tough, unpleasant wide-boy, friend of Lil's.
4 SOLDIERS – 1 selling matches (lame) – 1 bootlaces (one arm) 1 with sandwich board (gassed - coughs) - 1 begging (blind)
GIRL-FRIEND OF WINNIE
FRED – Friend of Bert and Hackney Supporter
3 FANS OF CHARLlE CHAPLIN
ONE-SPEECH CHARACTERS Glossy and larger-than-life
DOTTY DAY (Music-hall artiste)
CHERIE O'AMOUR }
OLGA RUBITZ } 2 FILM STARS (female) escorted by
CHARUE CHAPLIN (lookalike)
DANCE HALL MC/MUSIC-HALL CHAIRMAN RACECOURSE 'MUG'
PC OUTSIDE WINDSOR AND ON BRIDGE NEWSPAPER REPORTER/DIXON WOMAN REPORTER
FASCIST } at Speakers' Corner
ANTI-DRINK CAMPAIGNER 2 PEOPLE IN CROWD STUDENTS
ELDERLY COUPLE at funeral VOICES
The 'one speech' parts can be played by members of the Cottle or Wilkins or members of the chorus.
2 Crowds (We are the crowds of the city)
3 Ex-Soldiers Hymn (War is over! Wild rejoicing!)
4 Music Hall Song (Oo's got a job for 'Arry?)
5 Away from the Crowds
6 Football Match – Come On, You Heroes!
7 Film Premiere (Charlie, Oh Charlie)
8 Derby Day
9 Dance Hall (We're going to the Palais)
10 Amy Johnson (leaving Croydon airport on her solo flight to Australia)
11 Fascist Rally Song (Praise the paragon who leads us today!)
12 University Boatrace (In … out, in … out!)
13 Funeral Song (Grandfather Cottle died last Friday)
14 Jarrow Hunger March (Down from the Northeast)
15 Holiday Camping Song (We love Skeggy!)
16 Crowds (reprise)