5 Reasons Why You Should Celebrate Cole Porter with Harry Connick Jr.
By: Iris Wiener
1. Harry Connick Jr. has an appreciation for Cole Porter that is unmatched by other artists. He recently released an album of Porter songs called “True Love,” but his new Broadway show surpasses the content on the album. The show, Harry Connick Jr.: A Celebration of Cole Porter, is a love letter to the late pianist and songwriter, both written and directed by Connick, who wears his heart on his sleeve at all turns.
2. “Anything Goes” with Connick’s celebration. The show opens with a video of Connick coming across a statue of Porter in his hometown of Peru, Indiana; he proceeds to climb the behemoth, finally entering the mind of the musician in a quest to understand his artistry. Connick’s journey is informative as it moves from a sensational opening with “Anything Goes” to “I Love Paris” and “True Love,” all with anecdotes and gentle theatrics alongside his sultry voice. Connick describes Porter’s lyrics as “bold, witty and poetic,” proceeding to showcase them with “Mind If Made Love to You?” and “Just One of Those Things.” Connick continuously proves his sentiment that “[Porter] makes a love song like nobody else can.”
3. Accompanied by a riveting 25-piece orchestra (led by Andrew Fisher), Connick travels from the New York stage to a bar in New Orleans to a Manhattan hotel room, all seamlessly and with the flair his million-dollar smile and presence have earned him. The band’s incredible range of style, from the jazzy “Take Her to the Mardi Gras” featuring brilliant bass and saxophone, to the slow romance “Why Can’t You Behave?” (which Connick reveals to be a reminder of his first heartbreak) is astonishing.
4. Beowulf Boritt and Alexis Distler’s sets are easily transformative, especially when accompanied by Ken Billington’s nightclub-lighting. Caite Hevner and Boritt’s projections are staggered across the stage in fragments, an intelligent accompaniment to segments such as Connick’s discussion of the difference between orchestrating and arranging. He dissects the process through examining Porter’s “Night and Day,” an intriguing and insightful lesson that is as beautiful as it is stimulating….
5. Not to mention that it culminates with a show-stopping tap duet. Connick and Aaron Burr dance along the top of one very long piano, an instrument that Connick also plays as he runs back and forth across the stage, never losing a note. His showmanship is divinely captivating as his fingers and legs fly.
Photography: Mathew Murphy