Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Anything Goes': Cole Porter's World

Another Washington, D.C., November note:

For a farm boy, Cole Porter has to be considered one of the most 'urbanized' of men.
As the New York Times noted at the time of his death, age 72, in 1964, he and his wife were unstinting in their embrace of a grand lifestyle that took advantage of what every major city could offer, Paris, Venice, etc:

Their home on the Left Bank in Paris had platinum wallpaper and chairs upholstered in zebra skin,  and Mr. Porter once hired the entire Monte Carlo Ballet to entertain his  guests. For a party in Venice, where he rented the Palazzo Rezzonico for $4,000 a month, he hired 50 gondoliers to act as footmen and had a troupe of high-rope walkers perform in a blaze of lights.
 Unusual taste for  a man born on an Indiana farm. His talent showed early and later garnered him  enormous success and admiration across the board for a sophisticate who knew how to entertain the masses with such jazzy tunes as those in 'Kiss Me Kate' now playing at Shakespeare Theatre Company's Harman Hall. The production is loud and brassy -  starting with the opening sequence (the familiar "Another Op'Nin, Another Show") on a Baltimore backstage. (More city references follow: Padua, Mantua, Verona, etc., introduced in the show-within-a-show.)  What the revival lacks in subtlety, it makes up in a joyful display of acting and dancing talent. This is a show for a new generation hooked on instant feedback and sound bites, aiming for the solar plexus rather than the brain. Musical numbers come and go with crackerjack timing and breathtaking gymnastics. the www.shakespearetheatre.com

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