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What A Swell party
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What A Swell Party! - Northern NODA News

What A Swell Party!: Durham Gala Theatre

by Ian Wells

This compilation of Cole Porter songs, with biographical details interspersed, was written and devised by George Hetherington and Fred Wharton, and what a delightful evening it made.

Many of the numbers were familiar to ‘amateurs’ (think scores like “Anything Goes”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Can-Can” and “High Society”) but many from earlier shows were not. They ranged from ballads to up-tempo, to comedy numbers, all presented with style and panache.

The staging was simple, yet elegant, and the device of having Cole’s mother, wife, and a barman (Audrey Robson, Valenda Taylor and Olly Burton) narrate the story of his life very telling without ever feeling heavy. George’s trio accompaniment adapted its style from cocktail to raunchy with deceptive ease, and the lighting created the appropriate mood.

The company of sixty, led by Delia McNally, Carol Gardner, Lisa Thorner (who was outstanding in “Love For Sale”), Anthony Smith, Glen Moore, Ron Kemp, Laurence Scott, and Graeme Walton, performed the forty three numbers faultlessly.

All are to be congratulated, especially the ‘Andrews Sisters’ with “Don’t Fence Me In” —yes, Cole Porter wrote that! Every one in the cast, from the ‘Golden Girls’ to the ‘stars of tomorrow’ seemed to be having a ball, and so did the audience.

Published: August 2002 in the Northern NODA News


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