'Cole' revue gives modern audiences at new look at musical-theater legend
While most adults have heard of Cole Porter, few realize the extent of his contribution to musical theater. That will change for local audiences when St. Vincent Summer Theatre presents “Cole: An Entertainment Based on the Words and Music of Cole Porter.” The humorous musical revue tells Porter's life story through his songs, including “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Begin the Beguine,” “I've Got You Under My Skin” and more than 40 other Broadway and film classics.
Director Greggory Brandt says that “Cole” was the first show he picked for the 2016 season. “I'm a big fan of Cole Porter,” Brandt says. “It will be great for people to get familiar with his music again.”
Audiences will be taken on a musical journey from Porter's days at Yale through his time in Paris, New York and Hollywood. The production maintains the feel of 1920s through 1950s elegance with the cast dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns.
A dozen cast members portray a series of unnamed characters who sing and dance their way through the show.
Laura Hayhurst is returning for her second year at St. Vincent Summer Theatre. She praises the inclusion of some of Porter's lesser-known songs alongside his major hits in the production. “There are a lot of gems that pop up in the show,” Hayhurst says. “He was a very prolific songwriter.”
Unlike most other well-known theater songwriters, Porter wrote both the music and the lyrics for his songs. Hayhurst advises theatergoers to listen carefully to the lyrics to catch the subtle humor they often convey. “Cole Porter … was one of the wittiest writers in musical theater,” she says.
First-timer Andrea Weinzierl grew up visiting St. Vincent for the summer productions and is excited to perform on its stage. She will sing “Anything Goes” and “The Lost Liberty Blues.” “(Porter) wrote so many wonderful songs that it's nice they can be featured throughout the whole show,” Weinzierl says.
Cast member Jason Shavers was surprised to learn that Porter had such a voluminous and varied output. “There are songs that I never thought Cole Porter wrote. There were songs that I had never heard of. The music was wonderful, the lyrics were wonderful,” Shavers says.
During the show, he will perform “Dizzy Baby,” the duet “You Do Something to Me” and “Be a Clown.”
“We're going to have fun doing these songs,” Shavers says. “We're going to be all over that stage, and I hope we're going to look great doing it!”
The ensemble cast also includes Eddie Brandt, Christopher Cody Cooley, Matthew Fairlee, Marissa Girgus, Greta Kleckner, Elliott Litherland, Renata Marino, Kristin Serafini and Will Swanwick.
The July 8 performance is reserved for those attending the 27th annual St. Vincent Summer Theatre Gala. The evening begins with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. followed by the show. Tickets are $125 per person. All proceeds benefit the theater program. Details: 724-805-2901
Cynthia Helzel is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.