Broadway Melody – the Cole Porter Songbook was performed at the Auguste Théâtre, Paris.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
The long overdue new edition of Broadway Melody, celebrating this time the genius of Cole Porter, was well worth the wait.
The production used the same cast as the Leonard Bernstein tribute last year: Christine Buffle, fresh from playing Lilli Vanessi in Kiss Me, Kate; Scott Emerson, from Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods at the Chatêlet; Maxime de Toledo, just seen in Passion at Chatêlet; and the multi-talented artistic director Lauren Van Kempen, back at the Auguste Théâtre, where she did her own cabaret last season, also accompanied by musical director Mathieu Serradell.
Assistant musical director for Stage Entertainment at Mogador since 2012, and musical director of Titanic at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, Serradell devised some highly inventive arrangements here. These began with a very original overture, leading on to a perfectly voiced ‘Begin the Beguine’ from Jubilee and an extremely suggestive ‘Let’s Do It’ from Paris.
The spoken comments of musical historian Jean-Luc Jelery, whose updated edition of Le musical: propos sur un art total has just been published, were highly informative, never didactic and always fun throughout the evening, introducing the sold-out audience to lesser-known Cole Porter material, such as ‘The Physician’ from Nymph Errant and ‘Give Him the Ooh-La-La’ from DuBarry Was a Lady.
De Toledo and Emerson followed up with a very emotional duet of ‘I Concentrate On You’ from the movie Broadway Melody of 1940 and Buffle and Van Kempen shone in the selection from Kiss Me, Kate (which they both performed in recently at the Châtelet).
The spirited evening appropriately ended with an extensive selection from Anything Goes, including an effective tap dance duet from De Toledo and Van Kempen to ‘You’re the Top’”, choreographed by Victor Cuno.
This was followed by an arrangement of ‘I Love Paris’, celebrating once more Porter’s particular affection for the French capital.
It is fitting that Paris is returning the love Porter always had for the City of Light. What better way than this intimate American songbook celebration in the packed Auguste Théâtre to celebrate the love affair!
* An extra performance of Broadway Melody – the Cole Porter Songbook is scheduled for 24 April.
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Passion – Theatre du Chatelet, Paris – Review