Theater Notes: Cole Porter brought to life at Florida Rep
Don’t delay. This may already be a ticket hard to get because it is definitely one you won’t want to miss. Everyone I’ve talked to wants to go back and see it again. It is absolutely that good.
We have here a world premiere salute to Cole Porter. Conceived and directed masterfully by Robert Cacioppo, we meet five new faces to the Florida Rep scene but who are so perfect we know we will see them again. They can sing, they can dance, and simply dazzle the audience with the songs that make your feet tap and your heart go back through romantic journeys with songs like: “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” “Anything Goes,” “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” and of course, “Night and Day.” And that’s just four of the total 36 in the show. Are you singing already?
The production is called: “Night and Day: Love Lost and Found through the Eyes of Cole Porter.” It is playing at the 115-seat in The ArtStage Studio Theater. Cole’s brilliant lyrics bring to life real issues in the lives of two couples. There is jealousy, friendship and playful competition, all with a rich vein of delightful wit and humor. A lot of that comes from Paul Gary serving as Butler, etc. No one falls asleep at this play.
The cast members come to Fort Myers from Broadway, USO show troupes, regional theaters and national tours. They are talented and much is demanded of them from the script and the 36 songs they sing that make that little theater rock.
It is fascinating to think how many Broadway shows and major Hollywood movies Cole Porter’s songs graced. “Night and Day” back in 1932 with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. “Anything Goes” with Ethel Merman, and then the Tony winning musical, “Kiss Me Kate.” We get the best from all of them by a cast that clearly is loving what they’re asked to do in this production.
As always the production values are top-flight. The costumes in the hands of Charlene Gross were perfect, and what a demand that was, with songs from the 1920’s right up until the last songs of 1958. The set designer, Jordan Moore, knows what he’s doing. His set fits the play that takes us all over the whole space. He sure met that challenge. And huge kudos go to the choreographer Arthur D’Alessio, and the dazzling performances he got from the two couples.
We all owe such a debt of thanks to Mr. Cacioppo. This is the third of his mammoth efforts to bring us examples of the Great American Songbook. If you were lucky to have seen what he did with George and Ira Gershwin in “Fascinatin’ Gershwin” you haven’t forgotten it. So, too, the triumph of the tribute to Johnny Mercer with “Too Marvelous for Words.” And now Cole Porter lights up the theater. I urge you to call the box office right now. The show will be here until Mar. 11, but tickets will be increasingly hard to get. Remember how many of us are going back to see it a second time? Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7 p.m. with 2 p.m. matinees on Thursday, Sunday and selected Saturdays. The number to call is 239-332-4488. Act fast, you won’t regret it. Simon says: keep live theater alive.