Perfectly Porter | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Perfectly Porter 

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PERFECTLY PORTER, Open Eye Productions, at the Lunar Cabaret. Blending favorites and curiosities, Noah Simon's 70-minute revue celebrates the wisecracking wordplay and sensuous melodies of Cole Porter, for four decades the Broadway standard-bearer of sophistication.

The four cast members are supposedly performing a final run-through in the green room, a situation that fosters some 11th-hour backstage romances. Though these are unconvincing and the characters' byplay is wooden, happily the contrivances don't get in the way of the songs. Drawn from all phases of Porter's career and reflecting his gay irreverence and social satire, the numbers range from the cynical "Her Heart Was in Her Work," about a fortune hunter, and the malevolent "Most Gentlemen Don't Like Love" to the torch-song tribulations of "After You--Who" and the playful exuberance of "You're the Top."

Matthew Krause's supple accompaniment is marred only by too many pop stylings in the introduction. Maura Pheney, a wry comedian despite her elegance, delivers inebriated heartbreak in "Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please," Sarah Elesh spoofs mediocrity in "Queen of Terre Haute," and Simon hurls himself into the gay expose "I'm a Gigolo." Sharpest are the spirited ensemble numbers, like the harmony-rich "Leader of a Big Time Band," the contagiously joyful "From This Moment On," and a lovely interweaving of "Night and Day" and "In the Still Night of the Night." Perfectly sincere if not perfect Porter, this revue is for all the faithful.

--Lawrence Bommer


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