Far from Wild about Michael or his evening

Review by Paul Nelson

Bathetic rhymes with pathetic, which aptly sums up the art of Michael Wild as unfolded on a damp Sunday evening at the Jermyn Street Theatre.

Michael Wild, who is better known in the provinces as the author and director of amateur musicals based on other peoples original works, was represented in the West End in 1977 when his version of What every Woman Knows (J. M. Barrie) appeared as a musical under the title of Maggie.

Featuring Anna Neagle, Anna Sharkey (who won an Olivier Award for her performance in it) and Peter Gale it ran for 42 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

It was dismissed in the Times review as 'another offering on the primitive altar of the British Musical' with 'worn out romantic rhymes and Palm Court melodies'.

Described in the programme note as the highlight of his career this, presumably, was his justification for Sunday night's assault on the defenceless West End.
Sitting at the piano and abetted by a superannuated chorus boy, he inflicted a series of banal lyrics and tinkling tunes on an audience who had been induced to part with their money in the naïve belief that they were in for an evening's entertainment.

The evening featured unmemorable songs from other musicals (as yet unproduced professionally) such as Earnestly Yours (The Importance of Being Earnest), Josephine (based on the life of Josephine Baker), Lilian B (based on incidents in the life of Lilian Baylis), Little Lord Fauntleroy, Vice Versa, The Reluctant Dragon and others too tedious to mention.

The blessed St Francis Howerd has enjoined that 'thou shalt not mock the afflicted' so I will not dwell further on the painful events of this far from enjoyable evening except to note that Meretricious and "Mediocre" have the same capital letter as Michael. Can this be a coincidence?

This reviewer was, as you will have gathered, far from wild about Michael or his evening.

A Michael Wild Evening. Jermyn Street Theatre, Jermyn Street, W1.
Featuring Michael Wild (piano), with Arthur Wyman.