As the grandson of the richest man in the state of Indiana, with a mother who encouraged him to play piano and violin from the age of six, and further subsidized the publishing of his beginning compositions, Cole Porter planted his footsteps on a musical path early on in life. His name came from an amalgam of his parents, Kate Cole and Sam Porter and by the time he was a student at Yale he was well known for writing football fight songs and full scale college productions for both the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the Yale Dramatic Association.
To become better acquainted with this man of music, waltz over to Music Theatre of Connecticut for a delightful, delicious and de-loverly production of “Cole,” devised by Benny Green and Alan Strachan, weekends until Sunday, May 12. The evening not only showcases a parade of wonderful hit songs, it also includes facts and anecdotes about the man himself and his intriguing life.
Cole Porter’s serious music career began in New York with the 1916 flop “America First” which was dismissed as being a high class college show. Telling the world he was with the French Foreign Legion, he traipsed off to Paris to live the high life and forged a mutually convenient alliance with an American divorced socialite Linda Thomas that helped conceal their gender preferences.
Taking the Broadway musical stage by storm in his second try, he also gave Hollywood a passing whistle with less success. He was an accomplished wordsmith, noted for his wit and sophisticated patter. He loved to write for Ethel Merman, likening her booming voice to a “band going by,” as well as for Eleanor Powell and Ginger Rogers. Even a serious horseback riding accident didn’t stop the incredible lyrics and tunes.
Kevin Connor, the versatile director of the show, has assembled a fine quartet of singers to present a string of pearls of his greatest hits. The stylings of Blair Alexis Brown, Kathy Calahan, Philip Chaffin and Eric Scott Kincaid skip merrily through favorites like “Another Op'nin', Another Show,” “I Love Paris,” “Love for Sale,” “Night and Day,” “I Get a Kick Out of You” and “In the Still of the Night.” Their version of “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” is a showstopper.
For tickets ($25-45, $5 off students and seniors), call MTC, 246 Post Road East, lower level, Colonial Green, Westport at 203-454-3883 or online at www.musictheatreofct.com. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.