Rudolf Friml was at the peak of his fame when “The Blue Kitten” opened in London in December 1925. 1924 had seen the premiere of “Rose Marie” and in 1925 came “The Vagabond Prince”. Hovering between light operetta and pop, these two shows were as popular as any in the inter-war years. Although we like to think of inter-war musicals as slick and jazz-influenced, most stage shows owed as much to European light musical tradition as they did to the new American sounds. Friml’s sentimentality was much parodied even then but remained a favourite with audiences through to the 1950s.

In some of its songs, “The Blue Kitten” had tried to adopt a more transatlantic tone but they were half-hearted affairs and the show is not now considered a highlight of Friml’s career. It had premiered in New York in 1922, to no great critical or commercial acclaim. However, Friml’s high-profile ensured that, three years on,  the London opening received full publicity and several cast recordings were made, unusual at the time.

Two publicity photos – Firstly, Francis St.Claire


Secondly, the dancing twins Billy and Patsy Irwin

Some of the cast recordings are available on “Rudolf Friml in London”

Check out the excruciating novelty song “Blue Kitten Blues” for a good period feel – sadly, it wasn’t all Ellington and Armstrong in the twenties.

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