Red Hot and Cole
Music and lyrics by Cole Porter. Book by James Bianchi, Muriel McAuley and Randy Strawderman, Conceived by Randy Strawderman. Musical concepts and arrangements by Dougee Zeno
Red Hot & Cole celebrates the life of one of the great songwriting masters of this century. This two-act revue traces Cole's career from Indiana to the world stages of New York, London, Paris and Venice, through his marriage, his friendships with the greats of his age and the tragic riding accident that crippled him in mid-career, physically, but not artistically. The show features over 25 Cole Porter standards, including "Night And Day", "I Love Paris", "Anything Goes", "Let's Do It", "Miss Otis Regrets", "Just One Of Those Things", "In The Still Of The Night" and "My Heart Belongs To Daddy".
He’s “throwing a ball tonight” – and
you're all invited, to a “swellegant” theatrical party
spanning the life of Broadway’s greatest wit, the irrepressible
A scintillating mixture of biography and song, “Red Hot & Cole” celebrates the great American songwriter who brought style, elegance and sophistication to the stages and soundstages of Broadway and Hollywood, delighting the world with his devilishly clever rhymes, fresh and unexpected melodies and sassy, sexy sensibility.
“Red Hot & Cole” bubbles with songs that have become international standards, from such classic shows and movies as “Anything Goes,” “Kiss Me Kate,” “High Society” and “Can-Can” among others. It traces Porter’s life from his childhood in Indiana to the stages and penthouses of New York, London, Paris and Venice.
It’s a champagne tribute to a glittering age gone by, and the man and talent who was Cole Porter.
The show opens on an elegant room with a small combo playing a medley of Porter’s songs as the staff finishes preparations for the guests to arrive. As this “Overture” medley finishes, famous hostess Elsa Maxwell enters and begins to sing the sassy opening number “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight.” Cole Porter and the guests enter and join in the song and the fun, ending with a jubilant champagne toast.
After a brief montage to introduce some of the beautiful melodies we will hear at the party, Cole sits at the piano and sings “I’m A Gigolo” which Elsa Maxwell dubs ‘excessively cute.’ Elsa begins remembering the reviews of Cole’s first show and we are moved back in time to 1916 and Cole’s 22nd birthday. An exchange between Porter, Maxwell and Clifton Webb (star of Porter’s first theatrical disaster) leads Elsa to say, “The only way to shut up Cole Porter is to sing one of his songs!” and promptly breaks into the optimistic and rousing “Tomorrow.”
Despite Elsa Maxwell’s attempts to convince Cole that he will someday be a Broadway success, Porter announces that he feels he really only has two choices: The French Foreign Legion or the priesthood. He chooses the Legion, if nothing else to be in France! A delightful quartet (“They Didn’t Believe Me”) explains Cole’s ‘war years,’ and continues into his life in Paris with “I Love Paris.” It is here that Cole meets his future wife, the wealthy socialite Linda Lee Thomas.
Charming repartee between Cole and Linda establishes the rudiments of their relationship. As they leave the scene we hear parts of two conversations about Cole and Linda—one with Moss Hart, the other with Sara Murphy, each having their own distinct viewpoint, but leading them to the conclusion that Cole and Linda are perfect for each other. Linda is beautiful and rich and Cole loves expensive beautiful things! Cole and Linda sing of their mutual love—of Paris!
We are next introduced to the legendary entertainer, Bricktop, and her club in Montmartre. She sings the sultry “I’m In Love Again” as Linda and Cole enter the club. Linda laments the fact that despite her best efforts to promote Cole’s songs, Broadway has expressed little interest. Cole confesses that he is an unknown in America—“and if I keep up the good work, I’ll be unknown all over the world!” Cole admits his life is dedicated only to entertaining himself. Bricktop confides to the audience that “Paris and the '20s were like two meteors on a collision course … it didn’t last long, but oh my, what a lovely light.” The musical commentary on this Jazz Age party continues with a man (Actor #2) singing “Who Said ‘Gay’ Paree?”
As the number ends, other guests have entered in a grand and formal manner, holding carnival masks as we make the transition to the Porter’s palazzo in Venice with the racy “Come Along With Me.” We learn that the party is certainly continuing when one guest states that this is the fourth ball that the Porter’s have held this week—and it’s only Tuesday! Bricktop enters and sings a song that Cole had given her to learn in Paris (“Anything Goes”). During the dance break, Bricktop leads the reserved socialites in a Charleston designed to make them let their hair down! As the dance continues in the background, Cole is introduced to Broadway producer Ray Goetz who hires Cole to write the score to Paris in an effort to bring sophistication to the Great White Way.
(may be expanded): 7 men, 6 women