Albert Arlen - Biography - The Sentimental Bloke

Albert and Nancy returned to Australia, living in Canberra. Together, they started writing The Sentimental Bloke around 1950, to C. J. Dennis's The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke. Initially they sought the involvement of George Johnston, who showed little interest. Later, the actor Lloyd Thomson was brought on board as writer. Albert and Nancy went to England in 1955 to promote the show. This was unsuccessful so they returned to Australia, borrowed some money, put together an amateur cast, and staged the show themselves in March 1961 in the Albert Hall in Canberra. (A ballet with the same name, choreographed by Lauren Martyn with music by John Tallis had premiered in Melbourne in 1952. This was withdrawn shortly after its premiere since Albert Arlen owned the rights to stage representations of Dennis’s works.) The show had a one-week run in Canberra, which was so popular that extra seating in the aisles had to be arranged. J. C. Williamson’s directors Sir Frank Tait and John McCallum attended the final performance and decided to sponsor it for a further six-week season at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne (from 4 November 1961), directed by John Young. This was later extended to five months. The roles of The Bloke, Doreen and Rose of Spadger’s Lane were played by Edwin Ride, Patsy Hemingway and Gloria Dawn respectively. It eventually ran for over a year in Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and New Zealand. The show was turned into another ballet, with Arlen’s music freely arranged by John Lanchbery and choreography by Robert Ray, which the Australian Ballet staged in 1985 in Australia, and presented on their tour of the Soviet Union.

The Girl from the Snowy (Riverside Theatre, Canberra, 17 March 1960) and Marriages Are Made in Heaven, two other musicals, failed to have the success of The Sentimental Bloke. Arlen also wrote some songs and piano pieces.

The songs Clancy of the Overflow and The Rivetter were recorded by Peter Dawson, the former in a best-selling recording made on 4 May 1955, accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras.

In 1991 Nancy Brown Arlen published her autobiography "The Black Sheep of the Brown family: A Magic Life!".

Albert Arlen died on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, in 1993.

Read more about this topic:  Albert Arlen, Biography

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