The Arcadians, Shaftesbury Theatre

The Arcadians, Shaftesbury Theatre

The Arcadians is one of a distinguished group of musicals, including Oklahoma!, which everyone thought was heading for failure. Even one of the composers, Lionel Monckton, felt 'it hasn't a chance'. Luckily, Robert Courtneidge, presenting his first show in London, never realised this. Also, Edwardian tastes were turning against fantasy and The Arcadians was the fantasy to end them all. The nymphs and shepherds of the perfect world, Arcady, are enjoying the ideal simple life when a middle-aged businessman called Smith crashes his aeroplane amongst them. He is converted to their way of life and renamed Simplicitas. As Simplicitas he returns to England with two Arcadian damsels, to try to convert London to a simple, pure way of life. It doesn't work! Even Smith returns to normal. Courtneidge's faith was justified.

The Arcadians opened in 1909 and ran for over two years in London. The Times thought it was 'unusual and well above the common level of musical pieces'. Companies toured all over the world, even as far as Bombay. Some of the music, like the song 'The Pipes of Pan' is still played today. Courtneidge proved that George Edwardes wasn't the only producer of successful musicals.