Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park Fl
Cole Porter may be the best song writer ever. Who else would seriously consider rhyming “You’re the breast of Venus” with “You’re King Kong’s (Tallywhacker)?” It’s just a shame they didn’t actually sing that version of “Your The Tops” in this otherwise thoroughly enjoyable tap-a-thon. Cole was one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and subversive song writers, he cranked out hit shows and horrid flops and lyrics that sound Sunday school innocent until you actually think about them. Porter started out in law school to please daddy and ended up composing pop songs to please himself. He spent years in the fashionable Diaspora of prewar Paris and wrote endlessly about the experience, and tonight the all-singing all-talking all-tap-dancing Winter Park Playhouse home team takes us back to the those halcyon tunes.
The opening is an easy shot with “Another Opening, Another Show” featuring the entire cast. Part musical revue, part mini history lesson we learn bits and pieces of biography between the songs. I think that to allow the cast to grab a sip of water back stage and wipe off the sweat. Newcomer Steven Flaa and Kate Zaloumes follow with a gorgeous “Its De-Lovely” and Flaa returns to sing the bossa nova flavored “I Concentrate On You”. Candace Neal gives us a Latin influenced lap dance in “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and Natalie Cordone united with Mr. Flaa for the erotic and long banned “Love For Sale / Gigolo”. It’s not that raunchy by today’s talk show and high profile murder trials standards, but it got my grandparents undies in a bunch.
The highlight of the show came at the end of the first act with a full cast tap routine based on “Anything Goes.” Roy Alan led the pack, and I was a bit disappointed he went with the monochrome shirt and vest ensemble instead of his more typical tux and taps look. The dancing sounded like a team of red bull fueled carpenters, and the shallow and springy stage made these six dancers sound like a dozen or more. Cordon, Zaloumes and Neal gave the second act an Andrews Sisters styled “Miss Otis Regrets” while Alan, Flaa and hipster looking Brian Minyard encouraged us to “Brush Up (Y)our Shakespeare.” Closing number “Everytime We Say Goodbye” was warm but not nearly as rousing as “Anything Goes” but did justice to the music and mood and all around we had a great time. As they say, old wine, old songs and old dogs are always the best.
For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org