“Let’s Misbehave” The music of Cole Porter

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The International City Theatre in Long Beach, California opened its 29th season with the California debut of “Let’s Misbehave” with a fresh look at the music and lyrics of Cole Porter. More than 30 of his iconic songs flow together in this romantic comedy set in the 1930’s.

Cole Porter (1891-1964) was a remarkable musician, learning to play piano and violin at age six. Defying the wishes of his wealthy and powerful grandfather, he became a composer. After graduating from Yale, he moved to Paris in 1917 where he threw lavish, extravagant and sometimes scandalous parties.

According to biographer X.L. Bell, “His parties were marked by much gay and bisexual activity, Italian nobility, cross-dressing, international musicians and a large surplus of recreational drugs.” Cole married, but reportedly was a presence at gay Hollywood parties.

Cole’s early lyrics reflect this open-minded, progressive, but light-hearted tone. Some of the later pieces are about unrequited love and the loneliness of a somewhat jaded life. The ICT production is true to these themes that reflect Porter’s life.

The musical opens with the after-party in a chic New York apartment with three friends – Alice, Walter and Dorothy – reminiscing about the evening. Tired of yet another party and going home alone, they make a pact that each of them will find true love before the Fourth of July, agreeing that they would never let anything come between them and their friendship.

Of course, when there are three characters, the likelihood of a romantic triangle is always there. This play is no exception. When Walter falls for Alice and Dorothy falls for Walter, conflict arises.

Some iconic songs such as “Anything Goes,” “Begin the Beguine,” “I Get a Kick out of You,” “Night and Day” “and the title song, “Let’s Misbehave” are just a few of the tunes belted out by the trio, played by Lindsey Allen (Dorothy), Jennifer Shelton (Alice), and Marc Ginsburg (Walter). The three sing, dance and bring the audience through the romantic comedy in song.

Musical Supervisor, Darryl Archibald, who has worked on many national tours, including Dreamgirls and Motown: The Musical, does a brilliant job of making sure the audience hears one of the best things about Cole Porter’s work: the lyrics. The audience doesn’t miss any of Porter’s witty and clever phrases, so full of wit and alliteration that they are a melody in themselves. Brian Baker, Musical Director and accompanist, is onstage at the piano for the entire play.

This is the first production of the 2014 season. It is fun and enjoyable and at the same time, shows a piece of American culture and history. The rest of the season promises more of the same.

Let’s Misbehave, Performances are at International City Theatre, 300 East Ocean Blvd, Long Beach CA: Thurs- Saturdays @ 8:pm, & Sunday Matinees @ 2:pm. www.InternationalCityTheatre.com

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About Author

Denise Penn

Denise Penn is a Southern California-based journalist who has covered issues for the LGBT and HIV-affected community for nearly two decades. While an investigative reporter for the Blade Newsmagazine, her coverage of hate crimes became part of Congressional records. She served as News Editor for the Lesbian News and has contributed to In Los Angeles Magazine, EDGE, and many others. She is also a clinical social worker and brings that perspective to her articles. She produced and hosted an award-winning community television program in Long Beach, California for 12 years.

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