There's Gold in Them Notes
TAG- The Actors’ Group has had quite the momentous ‘18-’19 theatrical season, and they have chosen to end it with a crowd pleaser. Shari Lynn, alongside late collaborator Jimmy Borges, wrote tributes to the great composers and songwriters of yester-year, like Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter. These productions found much success in the past, and once again Lynn comes to close the TAG season alongside Kip Wilborn and Jim Howard in MINING FOR COLE.
MINING FOR COLE, being a tribute show, is not a traditional play. Instead of a plot, you will find an in-depth look at Cole Porter’s breadth of work through the framing and context of the highs and lows of his life. Lynn has done extensive research, and it shows in the details shared about Cole’s life as well as the examination of his many lyrics that he penned throughout the years. The production succeeds in delivering both Cole’s hits and the more obscure “deep cuts” of his library, so even if you are familiar with Cole Porter’s work there may be a song or three that you can gain a new appreciation for.
Lynn and Wilborn captivate and serenade with a familiarity that is most welcome. The room may be gussied up, and everyone onstage is dressed to the nines, but the shared charisma between Lynn and Wilborn do away with that veneer and cut right to the point of the evening: Cole Porter. His story is shared in a delightful space that lies somewhere between earnest academia and close friend sharing tales; this way it does not drag like a lecture or a documentary but it is also structured and flowing, so it doesn’t peter off on the odd tangent. In terms of the music itself, Lynn and Wilborn have tremendous voices, and exercise them deftly so to better understand and feel the lines and lyrics that Cole Porter has penned. Howard, the music director and accompanist, brings the whole picture together with his playing bringing forth the melodies that Cole Porter is known for.
Brad Powell and Bro. Gary E. Morris have a small but memorable role in the show, performing “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.” The two work well together, and seeing them pull off the memorable tune is charming.
I knew of Cole Porter, but I didn’t know who he was, and I daresay a lot of people my age can say that. However, fan or not, acquainted with his music or not, TAG has a wonderful evening of music in store for you. Lynn, Wilborn, and Howard take you through not just the life and times, but more importantly the music of one the great American songwriters and composers. Come to learn, come to listen, and be prepared to take a trip back in time. MINING FOR COLE runs through June 30 at The Brad Powell Theatre, for tickets click here.