Beryl Kaye was a leading dancer and choreographer who was associated mostly with the musical, Finian’s Rainbow, and the revue, Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure, which was as popular in New York as it was in London.
Born in Cape Town, she began to dance at the age of five and was taking part in charity shows only two years later. In her teens, her ballet mistress urged her parents to allow her to come to Britain to pursue a career in dancing.
She arrived in London in 1936 and was first seen in classical ballets in miniature at the Arts Theatre. There followed three revues in which she achieved a wider audience – Gangway (1941) at the London Palladium with Ben Lyon and Tommy Trinder, The Night and the Music (1945) at the Coliseum with Vic Oliver, and The Night and the Laughter (1946) also at the Coliseum, but this time with Bud Flanagan. A sketch in which she appeared in The Night and the Music was selected for the 1945 Royal Variety Performance.
Her career should have moved sharply ahead when she was cast in the still underrated Finian’s Rainbow at the Palace in 1947. The show was full of memorable songs, such as Old Devil Moon, How Are Things in Glocca Morra? and If This Isn’t Love. But inexplicably, it folded after only six weeks.
In 1953, Kaye joined forces with Irving Davies and Paddy Stone, two dancers who were also to achieve eminence, in an innovative dance group called Three’s Company. They toured to acclaim in Paris, Rome, New York and Chicago and, when Joyce Grenfell was compiling her show, Joyce Grenfell Requests the Pleasure (1954-55), she asked them to join her. In one memorable sketch, Palais Dancers, Grenfell and Kaye waited to pick up partners in a dance hall. Grenfell landed a no-hoper, played by Davies, while Kaye found a true expert in Stone.
Kaye married the television comedy writer, John Law, who, with Michael Bentine, wrote all seven series of It’s a Square World (1960-64). Law died in 1970, aged 40. Beryl Kaye, who was born on August 8, 1919, died on November 26, 2010, aged 91.
Richard Anthony Baker
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