Theater review: 'Anything Cole!' from Winter Park Playhouse

Is it possible to listen to the words of Cole Porter and not break out in a grin?

This is the man, after all, who gave us the naughty innuendo of "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)": "Birds do it, bees do it, even over-educated fleas do it."

Or the fascinating list of the best of the best circa 1930 in "You're the Top": "You're a Bendel bonnet, a Shakespeare sonnet; You're Mickey Mouse!"

The best thing about "Anything Cole," the revue of Porter's songs onstage at Winter Park Playhouse, is that the cast doesn't get in the way of the words. With bright, distinct singing they make sure every silly rhyme or twisted turn of phrase gets its moment.

The result is a satisfyingly entertaining evening of music and dance, a tribute to the prolific American composer whose many contributions to pop culture include the Broadway shows "Kiss Me, Kate," "Can-Can" and "Anything Goes."

Plenty of his big hits get their moment — "I Get a Kick Out of You," "It's De-Lovely," "True Love" — but Porter was so prolific and successful that there isn't time for everything. Such standards as "Begin the Beguine" and "Night and Day" don't make the cut.

The merriment is backed by a three-piece ensemble of music director Chris Leavy at the piano, Sam Forrest on percussion and Rick Richolsol on bass. They are positioned at the rear of the stage, which unfortunately forces the dancing to the front of the stage, obscuring the view of the dancers' feet for patrons in theater's back rows.

And, boy, from the sounds of the ferocious tapping in "Anything Goes" and "Let's Step Out," it would have been a thrill to see those feet a-flying.

The six cast members all do justice to their numbers, but Candace Neal shows the most personality both in her voice and manner. It helps that she's handed the theatrical "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and is a duet partner in the zippy "You're the Top" and sly "Let's Misbehave/Let's Do It."

Porter was at his best when wading into battles of the sexes, and the show's highlights can be found when the cast divides by gender. The men (Alan, Brian Minyard, Steven Flaa) give a comic turn on "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," while the women (Neal, Kate Zaloumes, Natalie Cordone) shimmy to an uptempo "Miss Otis Regrets" a la the Andrews Sisters.

There's brief narration between songs giving history and background on Porter, who died in 1964, but it pales compared with the real star of this show: The music.

'Anything Cole'

What: Original revue of Cole Porter music conceived by Roy Alan and Chris Leavy

Length: 1:45 including intermission

Where: Winter Park Playhouse, 711-C Orange Ave., Winter Park

When: 2 and 7:30 p.m. today, Nov. 19; then Dec. 2-17, with performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. on two Sundays, Dec. 4 and 11; and 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15.

Tickets: $38 evening, $35 senior evening; $28 matinee; $20 for entertainment-industry professionals and students 25 and younger

Call: 407-645-0145

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad