"look after lulu"

Published March 1, 1959





(L to R) Roddy McDowall, George Baker, Tammy Grimes, Kurt Kasznar

In 1958, Noël undertook to write an adaptation of Occupe-toi d’Amélie, a Feydeau farce. He wrote in his diary, “M. Feydeau is a very untidy playwright. He leaves characters about all over the place and disposes of them without explanation.” When Look After Lulu was finished Noël wrote, “To my surprise, it’s very funny indeed, and Vivien Leigh is mad about it.”

The play was to open in New York, directed by Cyril Ritchard with sets and costumes by Cecil Beaton. Noël wanted Shirley MacLaine to play the title role, but she had film commitments. His second choice was Carol Channing, who turned it down because she didn’t want to play a prostitute. At the suggestion of Ritchard and Roddy McDowall, Noël went to see a nightclub performance by a little-known Tammy Grimes. “She really has star quality,” Noël wrote in his diary.  He knew it would be a risk to cast her but felt that “If she gets away with it, and I think she will, the critics will ‘discover’ her, she’ll make an overnight success, and we will have a hit. If not, we shall fall flat on our collective faces and close within a few days.”

Lulu was not a success in New York, though it did indeed make a star out of Tammy Grimes. Years later, a friend of Tammy’s wrote, “She was discovered by Noël, put on Broadway by him, directed by him, and she won her second Tony Award in one of his shows.”

Look After Lulu fared better in London, where Vivien Leigh played the title role. The director was Tony Richardson.

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