Cole Porter’s ‘The Ambassador Revue’ – 86 years later

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by: Sandi Durell

 

get-attachment-9.aspxFinding a musical revue, with many obscure songs written by the master Porter, is certainly exciting news. It was Paris, 1928 when “La Revue des Ambassadeurs” was first presented in a chic nightclub and it was not until 2012 when historian/director Ken Bloom mounted a concert version in Paris. Bringing Grammy Award winner Vince Giordano (1920s/30s interpreter extraordinaire) into the mix, added new interpretations, featuring Porter period songs. (Frances Gershwin, a part of the original Paris production, played many of her brothers’ compositions in the original)

get-attachment-10.aspxAnd so, on June 27th at The Town Hall, a mix of performers from various musical genres gathered to sing (and dance) in a 90 + minute show that also featured Fred Waring orchestrations being heard for the first time (“Keep Moving” – brilliantly sung and danced by Ted Louis Levy opening the revue) and an unknown Porter song sans lyrics (“Rippling Stream”) played by Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks.

get-attachment-13.aspxMuch of the music is similar sounding in the rhythms of the era and very Porter-esque in double entendre. Favorite triple threat (or is that quadruple?) Jason Graae plied his comedic chops to “Pilot Me,” “Fish” (with all the right fishy moves) and delivered a more familiar “Looking at You.” And, on that familiar note, there were several including Vince Giordano’s take on “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)” and “Let’s Misbehave.”

Replicating sound effects of this 20s style was accomplished using large cones placed over instruments into which the musicians played.

The always lovely, adorably funny Anita Gillette was “Alpine Rose” (Excelsior!) who lived in a bungalow with only a cuckoo clock for company, and part of the “Military Maids” trio with Amy Burton and Catherine Russell, all eager to get married or bust!

 

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Metropolitan Opera diva Amy Burton reported on “The Lost Liberty Blues,” and “Love For Sale,” while Catherine Russell provided some sass on “The Man I Love,” as well as “Boulevard Break,” her vocal timbre perfectly in sync, bringing choreographer Randy Skinner and dancers Sara Brians and Mary Giattino into the mix for some fine hoofing. And speaking of hoofers, Ted Levy was extraordinary on “Baby, Let’s Dance” with Ms. Giattino.

Trumpet player/singer Bria Skonberg was called upon to sing “Night and Day” in French, while Tom Wopat and Catherine Russell coyly sang “An Old-Fashioned Boy/An Old-Fashioned Girl” leaving little to the imagination.

get-attachment-4.aspxAll in all, this look into the past in the Porter tradition was a crowd pleaser for the audience, the evening ending with Graae and Company in “Fountain of Youth.”

I  would have loved to have seen the performers in period costumes to match the era.

* Photos: Maryann Lopinto

 

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