This show runs approximately 2-1/2 hours, including one intermission.
NOTE: “cigarettes” used onstage are props and do not contain tobacco/nicotine.
THE HOUSE OPENS 45 MINUTES BEFORE CURTAIN. You may want to arrive early to enjoy the exhibit in our art gallery with refreshments ranging from coffee and cookies to beer and wine.
POST-SHOW DISCUSSION: Join the company of Red Hot and Cole for a post-show discussion following the Sunday matinee on May 12.
AUDIO-DESCRIPTION: The Sunday, May 19th performance will be audio-described, based on reservations. Click here for a description of this and other access services at TRP.
About the Show
(company members are listed at the bottom, following the interview with the director)
From his origins in Peru, Indiana, to the world’s stages of New York, London, Paris, and Venice, Cole Porter’s trajectory was as lyrical and stunning as his stellar talents Red Hot and Cole pays tribute to that spectacular, swanky, sassy, sexy gentleman of note.
A swellegant celebration of one of America’s greatest wits and songwriters, Red Hot and Cole gives audiences a singular ringside seat to the glamorous world of Porter and his celebrated cohorts, including Noel Coward, George Kaufman, Moss Hart, Dorothy Parker, Noel Coward, Ethel Merman, and more.
Making her TRP directing debut, Mary Cutler and her talented company of actor/singers are looking forward to delivering these legendary characters to our arena stage from America’s jazziest age.
Interview with the Director
Q: What attracts you to this show?
CUTLER: In Red Hot and Cole we are allowed the opportunity to perform Porter’s lush and romantic tunes, his clever, and a tad naughty lyrics, and portray his unique associates in the American arts and culture. This combination of Porter’s inimitable lyrics, beautiful melodies, and fun-loving characters are the attraction of this script. Red Hot and Cole is challenging in its structure and message, but it pays due homage to Porter’s brilliance and to his social set — the makers of a golden era in American theatre history. The Porters, along with their friends, Kaufman and Hart, Monty Woolley, Dorothy Parker, Clifton Webb, Noel Coward, et al. allow us a brief peek into the sparkling talents of the era in which the American musical was on its rise to prominence.
Q: A century since his heyday, Cole Porter remains at the pinnacle of showbiz sophistication and achievement. What gives him his staying power?
CUTLER: Unless we are musical theatre aficionados as babes, we do not necessarily cut our teeth on Porter! In educational theatre programs, singers/actors learn reverence for the Porter repertoire, just as students learn about previously-unknown Roman and Restoration drama. We become avid Porter fans. Conversely, typical theatre-goers who adore Porter have tasted him through seeing a production of his Anything Goes! Then, we want more in our diet?! Directing Anything Goes intrigued me enough to direct Kiss Me Kate at a later date. Further, I had musical parents who were raised in the 1930s and 1940s and enjoyed and played Porter tunes. Boomers know Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Lowe, whereas contemporary students of musical theatre adore Lin-Manual Miranda and Jonathan Larson. When we are introduced to Porter, we usually want more.
The mystique of Porter’s sophistication is unique in musical theatre, and, as you will hear in the text of “RH&C”, he was challenged by this gift. Broadway had to develop a taste for Porter’s work, and his musical theatre competitors rode roughshod over his early work, and his repertoire gave way to newer styles. However, jazz and the operetta, as well as the music of Kern, Youmans, Gershwin, and Berlin influenced Porter; Hart and Sondheim are certainly his successors. His witty lyrics and his melodies give him a place of his own in the annals of American musical theatre.
Q: Part of what makes me love Cole Porter is his provenance, being a product of the Midwest. I think coming from Peru, Indiana actually fueled ambition to conquer Broadway, Hollywood, Paris, and every other glamor center of the world. Comment?
CUTLER: Though we should all be pleased that he was a Midwesterner, probably Porter’s influences were more from the East. Even as a teen-ager he attended Worcester Academy in Massachusetts. His mother hailed from a Midwestern family, whose wealth came through her aggressive businessman father. Apparently, Porter’s grandfather ruled in Indiana and Ohio commerce but did not sway his cultured, musical daughter, over whom he doted. Doting must have been an inherited family trait, because Porter’s mother doted upon Cole as well. She supported his Eastern educational plans and encouraged his musical talents in piano and music. Grandfather wanted Cole to become an attorney through Midwest training and to assume the family business. Eventually, grandfather paid for Prep School as well as his Yale education and for a brief attendance at Harvard Law. Porter’s mother seems to be the maker and shaker in Porter’s life of culture, travel, the Classics, and academe — not occurring in the Midwest, but at an Eastern Prep School and the Ivy League.
Q: Do you have a favorite song in the show?
CUTLER: I must confess that I have many! Having adored many tunes in the Porter collection, I only increased my selections during rehearsals. My favorites are anything from Anything Goes; then, “Begin the Beguine”, “Night and Day”, “Another Opening”, “I Love Paris”, and “Just One of Those Things.”
Q: Talk about the format of the production. Are audiences coming to see a musical? A revue?
CUTLER: This text notably must be considered within the Musical Revue genre. Yet, it is unique in that the revue is fashioned upon events in Porter’s career and personal life. Music Theatre International, the company who holds the musical’s rights, aptly describes the Revue in the following: “A scintillating mixture of biography and song, Red Hot & Cole celebrates the great American songwriter who brought style, elegance and sophistication to the stages and soundstages of Broadway and Hollywood, delighting the world with his devilishly clever rhymes, fresh and unexpected melodies and sassy, sexy sensibility. It’s a champagne tribute to a glittering age gone by…and the man and talent who was Cole Porter.”
Q: In this age of dumbed-down discourse and rhetoric by Tweet, the idea of spending an evening with some of the wittiest writers and bon vivants of the 20th century — Cole Porter, Noel Coward, George Kaufman, Dorothy Parker… sounds absolutely sparkling! These and other historical characters all make an appearance in the course of the show, correct? Talk about that synergy. How are your actors tackling the challenges of playing these larger-than life figures?
CUTLER: Due to the fact that I have studied and revere the American musical theatre, I want TRP audiences to become as enthralled with Porter’s era and its historical figures, as I am. The decades of the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s are a fascinating time in American theatre history — a time we should respect for its artistry and accomplishments. The cast I auditioned for their abilities at character and have encouraged them to delve into historical descriptions of these actual people. Though I may have some issues with my very own American culture, I am in awe of the historical characters whom you will see tonight for their gifts to our American heritage.
Q: This show has been staged on large prosceniums, and on thrust stages. How does our intimate arena support your goals for the production?
CUTLER: This show might suffer on a proscenium. The Revue is a more intimate form in itself, and our selected example is a subtle and complex lens on Porter’s music and life. The details, which the writing team of Bianchi, McAuley, and Strawderman offer, aim to capture our feelings, not the oohhhs and aahhhs of more spectacular Broadway fare. One should be able to discern that this genius, named Cole Porter, was a complex, driven, vulnerable human being. These goals can be accomplished better in the Round.
Q: Is the music live, or a combination of live and recorded?
CUTLER: The music is live and lively. To Mr. Porter we owe the respect of live performance of his works! Our accompanist/rehearsal pianist is the lively and musically talented, Ms. Kathleen Hollar. Our Musical Director, Mr. Christopher Stordalen, is one of the finest musical directors in the area: accomplished musician and singer, excellent vocal teacher, and supportive collaborator. Choreographer, Ms. Brianna Belland, a talented woman beyond her years in the areas of teaching, choreography, and collaboration will add immeasurably to the show’s spectacle.
Q: Given the wealth and glamor of the 1920s era, what can we expect from the costumes?
CUTLER: Due to the demands of pace and the text’s emphasis on the music, our talented Costumer, Ms. Morgan Groff, has chosen to feature our cast in basic evening gown and tuxedo but distinguish characters via costume accessories. This choice requires more talent in costuming than it sounds, as selection becomes the goal. A costumer must decide which easy-to-wear piece of costuming will emphasize the historical personages of the script. Not just any garment will suffice, but this production requires a selected, coordinated, and stylish effort in costuming this glamorous social set.
Q: Anything else you’d like to say about the production elements?
CUTLER: Our Set Designer, a dear friend of TRP, Mr. John Woskoff, will offer a stylish multiple playing space in which to hear Porter’s music and observe his life. Another TRP talent, Properties Designer Ms. Roxanne S. Miller, along with Associate Tyler Lannam, are charged with outfitting the set appropriately and stylishly; Ms. Karen Hokenson, experienced lighting technician at TRP, will bring the mood and more spectacle to this Revue.
Elsa Maxwell, and others: Jacleen Olson
Cole Porter: Eli Coats
Irene Castle, and others: Siri Hammond
Paul, and others: Dan Stephans II
Hedda Hopper, and others: Cassie Utt
Noel Coward, and others: Mark L. Mattison
Linda Porter: Kaitlin Klemencic
Bricktop: Kathleen A. Hardy
Singer/Dancer: Alexis Solheid
Monty Woolley, and others: David F. Dubin
Waiter: Tyler Stanchfield
ARTISTIC & PRODUCTION STAFF
Director: Mary Cutler
Musical Director: Christopher Stordalen
Choreographer: Brianna Belland
Pianist: Kathleen Hollar
Upright Bass: Spencer Becker
Set Designer: John A. Woskoff
Costume Designer: Morgan Groff
Lighting Designer: Karen M. Hokenson
Prop Designers: Tyler Lanam, Roxanne Miller
Stage Manager: Amanda E. Oporto