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THE DANCING YEARS (Revised Version) Lyrics by Christopher Hassall : A new version for the theatre adapted by Cecil Clarke and Tom Arnold. First produced for television 27 August, 1981 The Dancing Years was first produced at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in March, 1939, and became one of Ivor Novello's best-loved musicals, playing almost continuously for a decade. SUMMARY Cecil Clarke's adaptation for television has been used as the basis for the current revised version. While retaining all the well-known musical numbers, it allows a more fluid production, no longer dependent on major scene changes, and, by omitting scenes incidental to the main plot, has concentrated on the central love story between penniless, unknown composer, Rudi Kleber, who leaps to fame in Vienna of 1911, and the operetta star who first befriends him, Maria Ziegler. STORY Act I Rudi Kleber is a composer, one of the great unplayed and therefore one of the decidedly penniless, and he and his piano board at an inn just outside Vienna where his tardiness with the rent money is a perpetual bone of contention between him and his landlady. For six months she has fed and lodged him without a pfennig of payment and now she has had enough. Returning from a night-time jaunt up the nearby mountains to pick moon-blossoms with the landlady's adoring teenage niece, Grete, he finds his piano in the inn's front garden. He has been evicted and, to pay his debt, the piano has been sold to a nearby dealer who is coming in a few hours to take it away. dy-rcdWhile the disconsolate Rudi wonders how he will raise the money to avoid losing his precious piano, the very early morning breakfast crowd is heard approaching: a group of officers and their ladies who have been partying all night and who have come to clear the fumes with a healthy breakfast. Rudi sees the chance of earning a little money by playing his compositions to the aristocratic company while they eat and, when his first waltz attracts their praises, he starts a competitive auction for its sale. The auction is cut short when all the bids are largely topped by an offer from a late arrival, the operetta star Maria Ziegler. The tune is just what she needs as an interpolated number in her new show and, while breakfast is served, she sings 'her' song to Rudi's accompaniment. Some days later, Maria returns to the inn bringing with her the Prince Charles Metterling, an old and close friend and sometime lover. She wants him to use his influence with the theatre managers of Vienna to get Rudi a commission as a composer, and she is also asking him to allow the young man to live in an empty studio at his home. Charles is not at all enamoured of the idea, but he cannot refuse Maria anything and so it is agreed that Rudi will leave the inn and be installed at the Palais Metterling where he can take, in comparative comfort, the first steps towards a career. In all the excitement of his new adventure Rudi cannot know that there is a heart which is being broken. Little Grete is losing her friend and she cannot bear it. With all the despair of her fifteen years she knows that she will die if Rudi goes away. He takes her in his arms and listens to her heartfelt words of devotion, and she is only calmed when he lovingly agrees that he will never ask anyone else to marry him until she is grown up and he has first seen if he would like to ask her. She knows that she may grow up to be perfectly awful, but she must have the chance. When he leaves she does not cry, for she has his promise and she feels safe.