- If you want to see a classy show about a musical genius and
learn about his life, his work and the people he surrounded
himself with, get your tickets pronto for “Red Hot and
Cole,” now playing at Sunset Playhouse.
Porter is a rarity in that he was just as capable at writing
melodies as he was at composing clever lyrics to go with them.
His style covered quite a range of tunes, from the haunting
beat of “Begin the Beguine” and “In the Still of the
Night” to the sardonic humor of “Miss Otis Regrets” or
the coyness of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”
Elaine Parsons has gathered an amazing cadre of vocalists to
give us this overview of Porter’s life and work, and other
than a couple of glitches with the sound system (which I’m
sure they will correct) it was a perfect evening. It’s the
kind of show where you want to see it over again as soon as
they’re finished with the first run.
Stepanski is very effective as Cole. He doesn’t have the
strongest singing voice, but his acting is very convincing as
he lives through his growing success as well as the setback of
his accident and the long process of trying to restore his
crushed legs. He was a man who loved taking risks and
experimenting with everything to prevent boredom.
Spice is utterly fascinating as the bigger-than-life
characters of Elsa Maxwell and Hedda Hopper. Another character
with a strong stage presence is Tamara Martinsek, who wowed us
as Ethel Merman and the pushy Bella Spewack. That woman can
sing. She and Spice together could probably knock out the back
wall if they teamed up.
Gray is a little bland as Linda, Porter’s wife, but she has
a pure soprano voice when she sings “I Love Paris” and
“In the Still of the Night.” She needs a bit more passion,
though. Paula Garcia conveys the spunk of Dorothy Parker and
utterly engages us when she sings - lots of energy.
Steward has an amazing tenor voice, very moving. Parker
Cristan captures the naughtiness of Noel Coward and has
dancing skills as well. His rendition of “Begin the
Beguine” with partner Alicia Rice is lovely. Whenever Ashley
Levells takes the spotlight, she is mesmerizing to watch and
additional members of the very able cast include Tairre
Christopherson, who is memorable as Monty Wooley, Ralph Garcia
as the harried George S. Kaufman
and Scott Kopischke as Moss Hart and Sam Katz. It was
fun to meet up with some of Porter’s famous contemporaries
and relive portions of the Jazz Age in their presence. They
definitely loved their parties.
Kummer accompanies with impeccable piano styling. A.J. Simon
provided a colorful set and Joanne Cunningham a very authentic
array of costumes.
Hot and Cole” runs through Oct. 6 at Sunset Playhouse, 800
Elm Grove Road, Elm Grove. For show times and tickets, call
262-782-4430 or visitwww.sunsetplayhouse.com