Friday, July 18, 2014

Review - Red Hot and Cole - Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society

Red Hot and Cole 
Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society
Thursday 17th July 2014

On Thursday evening I was invited along to King's Priory School in Tynemouth to the dress rehearsal of Red Hot and Cole, performed by the Tynemouth Amateur Operatic Society, directed by Bryan Watson (making his directorial debut).

As you might expect, this is a feast of wonderful show tunes. Following the life of the millionaire composer through anecdotal reminiscences from friends, the show reveals the hedonistic lifestyle of the rich and famous and Cole Porter's rise to fame, his careful manipulation of friends to make the right contacts, but also his insecurity and need for affirmation and adoration. Even before he is famous he has a band of loyal supporters - but were they true friends or merely sycophants drawn to a wealthy man? Time would tell. As his fame grew, so did his lavish lifestyle. Like moths to a flame people were drawn to him, and he to them. A workaholic, despite being rich in his own right ("What did your grandfather do to make you so wealthy?" "He died...") Cole (Phil Dixon) gradually alienates his wife Linda (Rebecca Mellor) and they end up living apart until tragedy strikes reunites them for a while. And in the hard times that follow, the true friends stick by him.

The show flows through Porters hits - each one illustrating a development in his life. The musical numbers are beautifully performed, with musical direction from Andrew Soulsby and choreography by Lyndsey Harrison. The costumes are sumptuous - as they should be, and the wit is cutting!
It's hard to single out individuals as all the performances were excellent. Phil Dixon in the lead is brilliantly cheeky, and Lucy Cockeline as Elsa sets the scene and mood of the show right from the start. I particularly liked Julia Neale in the role of Bricktop - her voice was amazing. And Chris Carr played Noel Coward to a T!

This was the dress rehearsal, so there were a few minor glitches - which will no doubt be ironed out by time the show opened to the public. It is a glorious celebration of Porter's work - well performed, beautifully sung. Bryan Watson and the cast can be suitably proud of their show.

Red Hot and Cole plays on Fri 18th and Sat 19th July. It is well worth a visit - you will leave the theatre humming your favourite tunes and tapping your feet!

Denise Sparrowhawk

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