What Is This Thing Called Cole? – FORGOTTEN PORTER (I)

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the start of our six-week series on Cole Porter musicals that we’ve yet to cover here on That’s Entertainment! Seeing as Porter is my first musical theatre obsession and my favorite Broadway composer, we’ve covered quite a lot of his work here, but these six shows, spanning from 1928 to 1946, are making their Musical Theatre Monday debuts. We’re beginning with Porter’s first Broadway hit… 

 

I. Paris (10/08/28 – 03/23/29)

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Tailored around the talents of French chanteuse Irene Bordoni, whose eyes Porter praised in his original 1934 lyric for Anything Goes‘ “You’re The Top,” this musical comedy featured a score by several different songwriters, including producer E. Ray Goetz (also Bordoni’s husband), although Porter’s contributions would prove to have the most longevity. After a nearly eight month out-of-town tryout period, the show premiered to raves in October of 1928, becoming Porter’s first official Broadway hit. (A film adaptation was made in 1929, but few of Porter’s glorious contributions were included.) The paper thin plot concerned a blue blooded Bostonian woman, Louise Closser Hale, who ventures to Paris when she learns that her beloved son intends to marry a seductive French actress, Bordini, of course. Disapproving of her son’s choice in women, mother gets drunk and goes from dowager to sexpot.

Although Hale got the juicer role, Bordoni was the audience favorite, regaling the audience with Porter’s “Two Little Babes In The Wood,” a tweaked version of the number included in the Greenwich Village Follies of 1924 and the charming “Don’t Look At Me That Way,” performed above by Bordoni and Irving Aaaronson and his Commanders.

The biggest hit of the evening was a duet for Bordoni and Arthur Margetson: “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love).” A triumph in joyous melody and clever, amusing, memorable lyrics this number has deservedly earned its reputation as a Porter classic. It is performed above by Bordoni and the Commanders. (Interestingly, the song originally used in this spot was the delicious “Let’s Misbehave,” which the Commanders premiered in their club in ’27. Hear their ’28 recording of the number, which was published along with the Paris tunes, below.)

Two other songs that made the production were “Heaven Hop,” which found its way into the 1962 Off-Broadway revival of Anything Goes, the most nationally performed revisal of the show, and the charmingly simplistic “Vivienne,” so titled for Bordoni’s character. The rendition of “Vivienne” below comes from an audio of the 2008 Musicals Tonight! production.

Additional songs cut from Paris included “Which,” which was later revised and used in Wake Up And Dream (1929) and “Quelque-Chose,” which had first been written for and cut from Greenwich Village Follies of 1924. Among my favorite unused numbers, however, is “Dizzy Baby,” with which we’ll conclude today’s post, performed below by Ricky Russell.

 

 

Come back next Monday for another Cole Porter musical! And tune in tomorrow for the best from the third season of Rhoda!

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