Peter appeared in many
musicals in the 1950s and 1960s, in fact we believe a total of
thirteen, fourteen if you count separately his appearances in the
1962/63 London productions and the 1966 tour of Lock Up Your
Daughters. For more
details about some of these musicals, please click on the links.
A number of articles
referring to Peter’s career imply that all the musicals he was in
were flops; indeed, Peter himself frequently related a story against
himself confirming this. However,
this was not actually the truth. Yes, some of the musicals he appeared in were failures but by
no means all.
His first role of note on a
was as the King of Spain in You’ll Be Lucky, with Al Read headlining, though the show was
really a review not a musical. It had a short run in Oxford
before opening at The Adelphi in February 1954 where it received 436
performances, closing in November that year.
Then in 1956 Peter had two short-lived roles, firstly as Tom in Star
Maker with Cicely Courtneidge, which opened in Glasgow and toured to
Manchester, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Blackpool but didn't
make it to London. Also appearing was Una Stubbs who would become
his first wife.
Later he was the Police Sergeant in Harmony Close which went to
Glasgow, Liverpool and Birmingham; this musical was seen in the
capital the following year but as a revised version and with a completely
Peter’s next musical was
much more successful. Grab
Me A Gondola opened in October 1956 in Windsor (Peter isn't named
in the Windsor programme) before going to the
Hammersmith Lyric and later transferring to Shaftesbury Avenue where
it stayed until July 1958, though it’s not known when Peter left
the production. Una Stubbs was again one of the cast.
At the beginning of 1958 he
played Peter Haines in a musical about a car, Lady At The Wheel. Unfortunately, this only lasted two months in London however
Peter was immediately cast as the juvenile lead (Freddy Eynsford-Hill)
in the original London production of My Fair Lady with Julie Andrews
and Rex Harrison at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Three weeks before the show was due to open he was dropped
from the role. Some
programmes still included Peter’s name in the cast:
This was obviously a huge
disappointment to him; one wonders how different a path his career
would have taken over the next few years had he appeared in what was
one of the most successful ever musicals. Following this setback, Peter took himself off to Rome in
search of work at the de Laurentus studios.
Sandy Wilson’s Valmouth,
in which he played David Tooke, brought a change of fortune. Although it received mixed reviews, the music had a
successful short season at the Lyric Hammersmith and then
transferred to the Saville Theatre where it notched up 102
the cast of Valmouth were Cleo Laine and Fenella Fielding. The musical also gave Peter a nice solo in What Do I Want
In 1959 he appeared as
Leander in The Love Doctor, with Ian Carmichael and Joan Heale,
which opened in London on 12 October and promptly closed on 24
October! Hooray For
Daisy by Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds was more successful in
that it played for two months in Bristol and later transferred to
Hammersmith. Peter, as A
Stranger, was not in the cast for the London production but Slade
and Reynolds offered him the lead role of Tom/Constable Blenkinsop
in their next musical.
Follow That Girl opened in
London on 17 March. This too received mixed reviews
but Peter’s performance was generally
praised and the musical had 211 performances at the Vaudeville
Theatre. Appearing opposite
Peter was Susan Hampshire and also in the cast were Patricia
Routledge and James Cairncross. The musical included several good songs, the best being the
title song, a very catchy number sung by Peter.
His next appearance was in
the The Fantasticks which promised much but turned out to be
musical, despite a very long run off Broadway, only had forty-four
performances at the Apollo Theatre in London. The well-known song Try To Remember comes from The
The most successful musical
Peter has appeared in is Lock Up Your Daughters. The original production opened at the Mermaid in 1959 and was
revived there even more successfully three years later, transferring
in August 1962 to Her Majesty’s Theatre in the Haymarket where it
remained until November 1963. The
part of Ramble is said to be one of Peter’s favourite roles.
After this long run,
Peter’s next musical venture,
was another flop, lasting only twenty-two performances, despite the
presence of Ronnie Barker, James Fox and jazz singer Annie Ross. One of the problems lay in the venue, the May Fair Theatre
being unsuitable for this type of production which was a musical
version of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals.
1966 brought a return to the
role of Ramble. A short
production of Lock Up Your Daughters at the Belgrade Theatre,
Coventry at the start of the year was so successful that a short
tour was organised to Brighton, Birmingham, Hull plus a return to
Coventry. Peter wasn’t
in the original Coventry cast but was part of the tour.
Peter’s final appearance
in a musical was as Captain Macheath (a role not dissimilar to
Ramble) in The Beggar’s Opera. Appearing opposite him in the 1968 production as Polly was
Jan Waters, who he married two years later. The musical was part of both the Cambridge and Edinburgh
Festivals and then opened for a short London run on 12 September.
So Peter has certainly
experienced more than his fair share of musical disasters but he has
also had a number of personal successes.