Gigolo: The New Cole Porter Revue
Winter Park Playhouse
Conceived by Paul Gilger
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Arrangements by Ned Wilkinson
Directed and Choreographed by Roy Alan
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Starring Zack Nadolski
Winter Park, FL
What a difference one year makes! Last season the “Festival of New Musicals” brought forth this excellent re-imagination of Cole Porter’s extensive oeuvre. The original story looked at the life of Porfirio Rubirosa, international playboys and gigolo. He specialized in seducing wealthy women, marrying them, and the collecting big divorce settlements. At one point, this included two B-25 bombers. That’s one heck of a gig. But tonight, all that factual detritus is gone, taking this project from a History Channel doc to a proper opera, complete with leitmotivs, tragic romance, and moving music.
We meet four of his women tonight, each abstracted from a real-life ex-wife and all without names. We begin with the fox-stoled society matron Mellissa Minyard, move on to the red-headed bombshell Kelly Morris Rowan, then to the drunk party girl Natalie Cordone. Lastly, we meet the naïve country girl Alyssa Flowers. Each is seduced with a rose, and as the conquests progress, an ever-growing pack of women confront our Giglio Nadolski. But they never attack; they forgive, treasure fond memories, and bond over sloshing glasses of booze and olives. The Gigolo’s attack plan is obvious but always work. Is there redemption? Of course, this is after all musical theater and not Wagnerian opera. Ned Wilkinson rises from the orchestra pit, puts on his angel wings, and blowing The Gigolo back to forgiveness with his “Trumpet of Righteousness” blasting a chorus of “Blow Gabriel, Blow.”
We are not seeing just another “Cole Porter Greatest Hits” show here; but rather a cleverly structured story that uses some of Porter’s obscurities and no longer PC lyrics to build the tension. Cordone’s “Find Me A Primitive Man” and Minyard’s “Down in the Depths of the 90th Floor” are good examples, as are the ensemble “Every Man is A Stupid Man” and Rowan’s “The Physician.” All sound totally inappropriate, and offer 10 times the fun for their out-of-date realism. This show looks like it could have legs; it’s a clever mashup of a powerful and popular tunesmith and a fascinating story revealing the depths of male subterfuge, all topped off by a great band and an elegant set. Who knows; in the years ahead, you might well claim bragging rights for seeing this epic in its premier run. Be one of the cool kids, if you know what I mean.