"The Santa Fe Playhouse has emerged with the remedy for all my summertime blues."
Though summer is undoubtedly one of my favorite times of year, the stresses of daily life can weigh on the spirits of even the most weathered soul. From finances to infernos it would be nice to spend a little time away from life and in the comfort of something simpler. In my case I try to seek out out the soothing stories of my favorite diversion, a night at the theatre. Just when I had resigned myself to a late summer line up, The Santa Fe Playhouse has emerged with the remedy for all my summertime blues.
I sat down recently with directors Carol and Jim McGiffin to talk about their upcoming musical production of Cole. What is Cole? Imagine the semi-recent bio-pic De-lovely if Cole Porter had written and directed the film himself. First run at the Mermaid Theatre in 1974, Cole follows the life and times of legendary songwriter Cole Porter. His story told as he would tell the tales of his life, thought the music he wrote.
The music of the show is a patchwork songbook spanning the many years of Cole Porter’s productions. Yet they tie together seamlessly to paint a compelling portrait of Porter’s life. Spanning from his years at Yale University all the way to the Hollywood days and ending with a very Porter style finale, reminding us that tomorrow is always coming and love is waiting around every corner. When I asked who in the cast played the stars of the show, the directors got a playful look in their eyes and explained the entire cast was an ensemble and the only star of the show was the music and words of Mr. Porter himself. With an impressive collection of fifty-two Cole Porter originals, I’d agree the catalogue takes center stage. Perhaps Carol McGiffin put in best by saying “His songs take you on a journey and you walk away with a real feeling of who
this man was.”
An often theatrical and playful socialite, Cole Porter became well known for playing his
songs at parties to entertain and unwind the guests. In true Porter fashion the ensemble does
much the same. As the cast put it “We all take on Cole Porter and we all present his music as he
would have. We entertain one another, but we also bring the audience into that party and
entertain them as well.” The idea of someone playing music in the middle of a gathering and
breathing life, energy, and joy into the moment is much the flow of this production and pays true
homage to the works Mr. Porters life.
Even so, the motives behind the musical honors Porter’s work most of all. Where most
plays would drive hard a lesson, or meaning, or commentary about our times. Cole is a musical
produced with a single purpose in mind; that you leave the theater with a smile and with any luck
a Porter favorite stuck in your mind. The cast and directors have built their production with the
single purpose of entertainment. They called it an escape. An escape from your problems. An
escape from the doldrums of the day. Most of all, an escape to a world of romance. Whatever
meaning to be taken away, would be done so from the songs of Mr. Porter himself.
This is not a show that tries to be clever or funny or honest. Being of the works of Cole Porter, it is already these things and more. I said in my last column that local theatre like this needed to be supported, that if you went they would build it. Well here is. A fun, well produced, intimate, and beautifully crafted adult musical of talent and note. The show has been given a three week run with an option for a one week extension, provided the show sells. I say sell out the first week. Sell out the second. Sell out the extension! Prove to companies like The Santa Fe Playhouse that shows of this caliber and variety are worth producing and well wanted. Go because you love Cole Porter. Go because you love the theatre. Go because of the remarkable lineup of talent. Go because of the fantastic production values. Go to hear a live five piece arrangement perform award winning standards. Go because maybe an escape from bills and fires and whatever else life has to throw at us is exactly what we all could need. Go because everyone could use a smile on their face and a tune on their lips.
Cole runs for three (and hopefully four)
weeks Thursdays through Saturdays - 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets can be reserved at The
Santa Fe Playhouse box office by calling (505) 988-4262 or at www.santafeplayhouse.org