The next chapter of The Beach Café ‘s Cole Slaw was definitely all Cole Porter. Having missed the prior two shows, Karen Akers and Rex Reed, as there was no room at the inn, I am back to continue the series with Stacy Sullivan – The Sultry Side of Cole. Taking the familiar Porter songs and infusing arrangements as of Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin some of Cole Porter’s favorite composers. Many of the songs had a classical feeling, but still maintained the musical tune and the lyrics as written.
Many of the songs sung were normally for belters, written and performed by Ethel Merman, but not in Ms. Sullivan’s capable hands.
Her opening song “Night and Day” which is normally a waltz, had a very passionate hint of the influence of Ravel.
Stacy recalled when she auditioned in high school for a role in Anything Goes there were two parts open, Hope Hardcourt and Reno Sweeney. She definitely knew she was perfect for Hope, but wound up getting Reno Sweeney. Playing the role low key and not belting, she gave us a sensuous version of the title song.
“Take Me Back to Manhattan,” was Cole writing about his love for Manhattan and Hawaii. Musical director and arranger Yasuhiko Fukuoka played his ukulele, while Stacy sand the tune with it an Hawaiian feeling as she did the hula. This was done as well on “It’s De-lovely.” Perfect as we were at the beach.
Porter loved Gershwin and his “Rapsody In Blue” was his favorite. Gershwin suggested that Porter go to New York and write a musical, so a Gershwinistic feeling was infused into “Too Darn Hot” from Kiss Me Kate.
Stacy said there were two definitive recordings of “Riding High”, one as a belt by Ethel Merman and the other as a sultry version by Peggy Lee. Stacy gave us the Peggy Lee one, since her Peggy Lee show is an award winning.
Stacy’s special guest was to be T. Oliver Reid. The two of them did a duet in T. Oliver’s show “So In Love,” but he was under the weather. Mark Nadler replaced him and did a knock out job. This was a very different version, but one not to be missed.
“Everytime We Say Goodbye” became heartbreaking she connected with the lyric. Her daughter, Savanah just married a guy after a long distance relationship. He lives in London and Savanah in New York, so they fly back and forth to see each other. Stacy recalled, how difficult and sad Savanah was when he has to leave, and she used this song to tell that story.
The one song that really blew me away was “Don’t Fence Me In”. I am familiar with that song and how it was performed in the movie “Hollywood Canteen” sung by Roy Rodgers as he and Trigger did a dance. You can see this scene on You Tube. I worked with the organization Lyrics and Lyricists for many years. One year we were doing a season of Cole Porter celebrating his hundredth birthday, Ann Hampton Callway was a guest on the show, and asked me who she was following. I remember the look on her face when I told her told her Trigger. Stacy’s performance of this song was done to a patriotic arrangement, as an anthem. It was amazing.
Stacy’s interpretation of Cole Porter, took these songs and gave them a fresh feeling. These brilliant arrangements and playing by Yasuhiko Fukuoka gave a completely different styling of the music without loosing what Porter had originally written, …pure genius. What more can I say. Having listened to many of these songs over and over again over these past weeks in different shows, it was as if hearing them for the first time. What an amazing journey through the music of Cole.