Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Off the Wall Theater: "Cole and Noel"

When looking for some entertainment at holiday time that isn’t either A Christmas Carol or The Nutcracker, we often look to Off the Wall Theater for something different. This year, that was Cole and Noel, a review of music by the two prolific composers and writers, neither of whom ever wrote a Christmas song. We went to see it on Sunday, December 22nd.

The two authors were “called back from Heaven” for this show, and played by Dale Gutzman as Noel Coward, and frequent cast member Jeremy C. Welter as Cole Porter. They did both note that coming from Heaven was a bit remarkable, since neither man was a model of conventional virtue during their life on Earth, but evidently God took a more expansive view of goodness, including artistic merit, than He is usually credited with.

Porter and Coward knew each other during their overlapping careers, and were sometime collaborators, and sometime rivals, at least according to this show. Dialog between Gutzman and Welter was witty and edgy, but I thought made a bit too much of the men’s homosexuality, and too little of other aspects of their colorful lives.

However, the main attraction of the show was the music, and in that regard it did not disappoint. Both men were extremely productive over long careers, and there was a lot of music in this production that neither of us had heard before.  Interspersed with well- known songs such as “Mad About the Boy,” “It’s Delovely,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Too Darn Hot,” there were pieces like “London Pride,” Coward’s war-era tribute to home. “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington,” was the thing that veterans of too many long audition sessions would have longed to say, but dared not.

The cast did an excellent job of selling the songs with lots of energy, and giving the impression they were having a fine time doing it. Voices and expression were all top-notch. We got to see some honest-to-Go real-live tap dancing for the first time in I don’t know how long.

We had a really good time at Cole and Noel.

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Tags: music, theatre
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