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

Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the continuation of our six-week series on Cole Porter musicals that we’ve yet to cover here on That’s Entertainment! Given that Porter is my first musical theatre obsession and my favorite Broadway composer, we’ve covered quite a lot of his work, but these six shows, spanning from 1928 to 1946, are making their Musical Theatre Monday debuts. So far we’ve covered Paris (1928), La Revue Des Ambassadeurs (1928), Wake Up And Dream (1929), and Gay Divorce (1932). Today…

 

V. Seven Lively Arts (12/07/44 – 05/12/45)

sheet music

Billy Rose called upon Cole Porter to compose the score for his new Ziegfeld Theater revue that would combine all of the “seven lively arts” (theater, ballet, opera, concert, radio, painting, and music). With sketches by George S. Kaufman, Moss Hart, and Ben Hecht, direction by Jack Donohue, and a cast that included comics Beatrice Lillie and Bert Lahr, Dolores Gray, Jere McMahon, and Nan Wynn (with Helen Gallagher in the ensemble), Seven Lively Arts suffered no shortage of talent. Unfortunately, the show was not spectacularly received, and many of those involved in the creation would downplay its role in their artistic lives. For Cole Porter, Seven Lively Arts represents, in my personal opinion, one of the least distinguished efforts of his entire professional career.

In fact, if not for one song, which stands among Porter’s absolute finest, Seven Lively Arts would be relegated to complete obscurity. The song that makes the entire show worthwhile is, of course, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” The recording above is by Kim Criswell with orchestrations reconstructed by John McGlinn.

Many numbers reflected the current big sensibilities, among them, the ladies’ “Hence It Don’t Make Sense,” performed above by Tony Pastor and his orchestra.

Benny Goodman played in the Broadway orchestra and he recorded a few of the show’s tunes as well, including the generic “Only Another Boy And Girl,” which is only commendable for its refreshing simplicity.

Porter got his trademark Latin-inspired melody into the score with “Frahngee-Pahnee,” performed above by Thomas L. Thomas, and then mocked it with, ‘Dancin’ To A Jungle Drum (Let’s End The Beguine),” heard below from an unreleased demo for a ’70s Porter revue. This unremarkable song has never been recorded and is included here for curiosity’s sake! (For access to said demo, subscribe and comment below.)

And finally, for a sampling of the comedy, here are two sketches from the show, performed by Lillie and Lahr themselves with Paul Whiteman on Radio Hall Of Fame! (For access to a recording of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet from the show, subscribe and comment below.)

 

 

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

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9 thoughts on “What Is This Thing Called Cole? – FORGOTTEN PORTER (V)

  1. Hi, Jackson. Many good singers have recorded “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.” Two versions that I especially like are those by Jeri Sothern and Ella Fitzgerald. The funniest version was when Sideshow Bob sang a snatch of it on the Simpsons! (Could I have a copy of the demo tape that includes “Dancin’ to a Jungle Drum”? I always enjoying hearing Porter rarities, even if they’re not his best work.)

    • Hi, Scott! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      There a lot of wonderful renditions of this Porter classic. I’m just particularly fond of the recreated orchestrations in the Criswell/McGlinn recording. (I’m a sucker for a reconstructed score!)

      Regarding the demo, I have emailed you at your earthlink address.

      • Hello Jackson. I love reconstructed scores but how come they didn’t include the verse of the song ?. It seems strange to me but maybe it was already deleted on the original production. Can I have the demo too ?[drool, drool]

        • Hi, Maleso! Thanks for reading and commenting!

          I will be happy to send you the demo, but I noticed that you have yet to subscribe. Please do so and I’ll forward it your way!

  2. These songs are actually quite charming…. even Porter at his most uninspired is head and shoulders above most composers or lyricists at their best.

    Curious about that 70s Porter revue demo you mentioned… any chance you could send it to me?

    • Hi, Michael! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I agree with you about the calibre of Porter’s work, especially in comparison to his contemporaries.

      I have emailed you at your gmail address. (The demo features a lot of lesser known Porter, but the recording’s sole rarity was featured in this post above!)

  3. thank you thank you! first time ever hearing dancin to the beat of the jungle drum..what a treat….would very much appreciate geting the cole demo…thanks

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