Cole Porter’s vast canon, has some wonderful gems that are being given a new look. Danny Gardner, Lauren Molina, Diane Phelan and Lee Roy Reams all give us fabulous performances, with a tongue-in-cheek look from 1919 to 1945 in The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter.
Lee Roy Reams is our charming narrator on this journey, bringing us “I’m a Gigolo” from Wake Up and Dream, 1929; ” I’m In Love Again” from Greenwich Village Follies of 1924; “Little Skipper From Heaven” from Red, Hot and Blue, 1936; “Thank – You So Much, Mrs. Lowsbrough-Goodby” cut from Anything Goes by Ethel Merman in 1934 and “Experiment” from Nymph Errent 1922. The last three were not in the original review. I particularly liked the duet with Danny Gardner on “Well Did You Evah” from DuBarry Was a Lady, 1939.
Giving us her beautiful soprano Diane Phelan, gave us wonderful duets with Danny Gardner and Lauren Molina. She excelled in “I Happen To Like New York” from The New Yorkers, 1930; “After You Who” From Gay Divorce, 1932 and “When I Was A Little Cuckoo” from Seven Lively Arts, 1944.
Lauren Molina, with her rubber face and sophisticated comedic take, rose to the occasion in “I’m Unlucky at Gamblin“ from Fifty Million Frenchman, 1929; “Hot House Rose” from 1927; “I Loved Him (But He Didn’t Love Me)” from Wake Up and Dream, 1929; “Make It Another Old-Fashioned Please” from Panama Hattie, 1940; “Down In the Depths (on the Ninetieth Floor)” from Red, Hot and Blue, 1936 and the best version I have ever watched of “Tale Of the Oyster” also from Fifty Million Frenchman. This girl truly lights up a stage.
I left Danny Gardner for last, because this man tapped his way into the audiences hearts with “I’ve Got You On My Mind” from Gay Divorce; “At Long Last Love” from You Never Know, 1938 and “I Worship You” from Fifty Million Frenchman. He is truly a song and dance man.
This show was well directed by Pamela Hunt. The choreography by Trent Kidd was a delight. The projections by Jamie Godwin, let us in on the time and place giving a wonderful look into the past.
What was truly spectacular was the musical arrangements, musical direction and piano playing by Eric Svejcar. The finale, allowed us snippets of all the Cole Porter songs we missed.
On a side note the liner notes by Drama Desk president Charles Wright are comprehensive and worth the program.
The York is upping their game with this show and I am looking forward to the next Cole Porter installment Panama Hattie, in two weeks.
The Decline and Fall of the Entire World as Seen Through the Eyes of Cole Porter, The York Theatre, 619 Lexington Ave. at 54th St. until Oct. 20th and Panama Hattie with the wonderful Klea Blackhurst Oct. 26 – Nov. 3,