The following musicals by Donald Swann, written with a variety of collaborators, achieved public performance. THE BRIGHT ARCADE was eventually televised in a rewritten version as THE GREAT GLASS HIVE. For further stage works see also OPERAS and CHILDREN'S MUSIC & SHOWS. At a later date this page will also provide song lists, cast lists and reviews.


A Musical play in two acts.
1st version: book & lyrics Maurice Browning. Music by Donald Swann. Winter 1949.
2nd version: Book rewritten by David Marsh. Spring 1951. Unperformed.

Victorian Musical of a family at the time of the 1851 Exhibition in Hyde Park.

Rewritten by Maurice Browning for TV as THE GREAT GLASS HIVE (1974)


A Musical play for children in three acts. Book & lyrics by Sydney Carter. Music by Donald Swann. 1st performance: YWCA CENTRAL CLUB DRAMATIC SOCIETY 18th-21st June 1951.

Redrafted for TV January 1953 (with Guy Brenton) – not made. Songs rewritten early 1956.

Set in Brighton 1843. Lucy, a girl of 15, makes imaginary journeys into the dreams of her childhood guided by the ghost of Daniel Boone, the Hunter. In the course of these journeys she catches a glimpse of the meaning of love and suffering.

Other Performances:
Pendle Hill, USA c.1979
Malthouse Theatre, Sussex in 1985 (renamed THE GHOST OF DANIEL BOONE).



A Musical play in three acts.
Book (in verse) and lyrics by Philip Guard. Music by Donald Swann. Begun August 1952, completed May 20th 1953. Revised 1955.

Pre London tour: Royal Theatre Bath 23 May 1955. Theatre Royal, Brighton May 30th. Golders Green Hippodrome June 13th. Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool 4 July. West End: Duke of York's 14th July 1955 to 27th August 1955 (52 performances)

A railway porter meets a French singing star and they run off to the Devonshire coast of Wild Thyme. They are tracked down by his girlfriend and her impressario husband who brings them to their senses and offers him a singing contract.

Cast includes: Betty Paul, Denis Quilley, Jane Wenham, Colin Gordon, Frank Duncan, Julian Orchard, Stella Chapman, Paul Manning.
Director: Wendy Toye.
Decor: Ronald Searle.
MD: Donald Swann. Scored for pit band and piano.
Producer: Laurier Lister.




Rewritten version of THE BRIGHT ARCADE (1949) adapted for OMNIBUS, BBC TV.
Recorded 21st & 22nd April 1974, broadcast 5th May 1974.

Victorian Musical of a family at the time of the 1851 Exhibition in Hyde Park.


Or The Letting Go of Andor Seelig

Book and lyrics: Alec Davison.
Music by Donald Swann.
1st performance: The Cockpit Theatre 1979.

An anti-armament community-based protest play with music.

Six songs later reworked in to a cantata LEAVENING THE HEART (1994) by Alec Davison and Roger Cleverdon.



Lyrics: Evelyn Kirkhart, Mary Morgan & Donald Swann.
Music: Donald Swann.
First performance: USA 1987.
UK revision by: Leon Berger & Helen Spackman. Performed: Turtle Key, London 29th July-1st Aug. 1992.

A quasi-mystical story set in an American Quaker Community. Tiger, an ex-marine, returns from East Nankin in China to his hometown of West Nankin, Ohio. He is troubled by the pull of the East, represented by a ghostly Chinese clown-figure. Tiger's arrival coincides with a series of lectures given by a visiting Relationship Counsellor, Dr Hilda Hartwell. The inhabitants undergo self-reappraisal but Tiger, unable to settle, goes abroad leaving his influence on the Community.