Cole Porter was a wordsmith nonpareil. The American musical, along with jazz, are our only truly born and bred originals.

Cole Porter was a wordsmith nonpareil. The American musical, along with jazz, are our only truly born and bred originals. Beginning  in 1927 with Jerome Kern's SHOWBOAT, the 'modern' era of musical theatre began.  With all the great composers and lyricists to follow, only Stephen Sondheim matches Porter in wit and whimsy.

Porter LOVED Ethel Merman, so much that he wrote 5 shows for her, the most successful being ANYTHING GOES. As such, he would drool over Candlelight's reincarnation of La Mermann, (Sarah Spangenberg), as Reno Sweeney. Spangenberg, making her debut at this venerable venue, holds a note longer than Warren Buffet.

Reno's leading man Billy Crocker (Zachery Chiero) - with another Candlelight debut - not only sings well and dances even better, but has that ineffable quality to which all actors strive; presence and naturalness on stage.

Hope Harcourt (Megan Pizors) plays the debutante at odds with her domineering mother.  A melodious and enchanting singing voice, her 'Goodbye, Little Dream' was... just dreamy.

Which leads us inexorably to Hope's haughty, hoity-toity mother, Evangeline (Lindsay Mauck).  Think Rose's mother in the movie Titanic but played like Dame Edna.  Mauck never drops that shrill accent and the audience knows they are in for a laugh when she enters.  (One almost felt sad - but not quite - when her beloved miniature poodle was thrown overboard).

Yet one more newcomer mined from the resources of Philly theatre by Director/Choreo Dann Dunn was Connor McAndrews (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh). Look up 'popinjay' and that sums up his character. In Act 2, he stole the show with laughs. Aisle Say has seen this show 8 times. He's the funniest.

The set by Jeff Reim was one of the best ever at the venue. Lighting by Chris Miller was atmospheric and bluish moody "All Through The Night". The women's gowns by Costume Designer Jim Reed were not only authentic to the '30's but gorgeous. There was a mesmerizing flow to the gowns, most notably with Hope Harcourt. Wigs by Lisa Miller-Saunders were outstanding, especially with Lady Harcourt.

Dann Dunn's signature is dance.  Marshalling 8 great tappers (4 men, 4 women) is a gargantuan task.  Reno Sweeney's showgirls: Purity (Tiffany Christopher), Chastity (Erin Michelle Waldie), Charity (Brittany Marie Arnao) and Virtue (Eliza Frawley) probably motivated half the men in the audience to find religion.

Two of the greatest production numbers in Broadway history, 'Anything Goes' and "Blow, Gabriel , Blow' were explosive. Cole Porter would have been pleased. Dunn served him well.

Through May 11        NCTStage.org             302.475.2313