"Cole" an entertainment based on the words and music of Cole Porter. It is the opening show at the Brown County Playhouse in Nashville. "Cole" loosely follows Porter’s life from college shows to Broadway to Europe, to Hollywood and back to Broadway.
A hard working cast of six veterans of the IU Theatre Department and local productions sang, danced and acted their way through what must be a real test of on stage stamina. Coryell Barlow, Victoria Liedke and Carmen Meyers were the many women of "Cole" and David Bredenkamp, Andrew Lebon and Mark Willett played the men. Special note should be made of the fine piano work of music director Charles Prestinari, the sensitive multi wind artistry of Peter Kaiser and the always apt rhythmic support and accents of Joel Brainard.
Director Murray McGibbon has set the show in two general modes. The first act is more of a review with an emphasis on choreographer Zachary Frank’s set pieces for the whole cast. On opening night it took a while for things to set in and initially the movement and drama weren’t quite in synch. The second act is more of a cabaret setting with some especially deft staging by director Murray McGibbon in more intimate pieces and a closer relation with the audience.
Of costume designer Robbie Stanton’s pieces for "Cole" I was especially delighted with the production for Cole Porter’s "Be a Clown" with the entire cast in full clown suits.
All of the music and lyrics come from more than thirty of Porter’s songs. The cast’s good diction and subtle sound reinforcement were much appreciated. The opening night audience greeted many old favorites with audible welcomes and followed them with applause. The songs tell most of the evening’s story, but there is some additional dialog artfully drawn from the letters of those jazz age darlings Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
"Cole" plays Wednesdays through Sundays at the Brown County Playhouse in Nashville through July 7th.
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