Welcome to a new Musical Theatre Monday and the start of another Cole Porter series! My favorite composer, Porter’s scores have been almost covered in full on this blog, but there are still a few pre-1948 shows left to investigate, beginning today with…
I. Hitchy-Koo Of 1919 (10/06/19 – 11/22/19)
The third in a series of four annual revues produced by Ramond Hitchcock, the 1919 edition of the Hitchy-Koo boasted the second Broadway score composed by Cole Porter. (His first, 1916’s See America First, is currently lost.) As with the other entries in Hitchcock’s Hitchy-Koo series, which began in 1917, the producer — also one of the headliners — sought an evening of fast-paced, but intimate entertainment that could reflect the current moods of the time. Although none ran as long as the initial production and this 1919 entry faded within two short months, reviews suggest general delight with the score. (And the production did indeed tour after closing.) Interestingly, the big hit of Porter’s effort was consciously nostalgic, the sentimental “An Old-Fashioned Garden,” a seemingly regressive ballad that some may remember from its inclusion in the glossy and false Porter biopic Night And Day (1946). The rendition of this aforementioned number, Porter’s first published success, is taken from said film’s soundtrack.
Although some contemporary critics tend to write Porter’s work here off as inferior to much of his later output, I think the score for Hitchy-Koo Of 1919 demonstrates traces of the Porter to come — like the name-dropping “I Introduced,” heard below from the cast recording of the ’60s revue, The Decline And Fall Of The Entire World As Seen Through The Eyes Of Cole Porter.
Porter’s aesthetic tastes were already in full force in charming numbers like “My Cozy Little Corner In The Ritz,” performed below by Thomas Hampson on his (seminal) Porter album.
From the same album, here’s Hampson with “When I Had A Uniform On,” which was performed by up-and-coming comic Joe Cook (who, among other things, starred in Kay Swift’s jovial Fine And Dandy from 1930).
One of my favorite offerings from this score, and one that I think most points to some of the musical and lyrical ideas that Porter would explore in later (and better) works, is “I’ve Got Somebody Waiting,” heard below in a divine rendition by Susan Johnson.
And we’ll close today’s post with a number foolishly cut before opening, the cheeky “That Black And White Baby Of Mine,” performed below by Bobby Short.
Come back next Monday for another Cole Porter score! Tune in tomorrow for my picks of the best from the first season of It’s Garry Shandling’s Show!