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Red, Hot and Cole
a Musical Revue

COMPANY : Holly Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Holly Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 812

SHOWING : February 09, 2004 - February 15, 2004



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Red Hot and Cole
by Cosette
Saturday, February 14, 2004
Red Hot and Cole is a delightful musical, that provides a stellar evening of entertainment.

Valerie West sets up the premise of the evening with "We're having a Ball Tonight". She has beautiful professional quality voice. And we get to hear that voice as both Elsa Maxwell and Ethel Merman.

Jim Noe plays the part of Cole Porter and does a commendable job. The part is demanding and he does an excellent job of portraying the changes that his character goes through. The Duet, "True Love", that he sings with Ms.West is perfection.

Kate Westfall plays the part of Linda Porter. When she sings "I Love Paris in the Springtime", in her sultry provocative voice, I was ready to jump on a plane. She truely looked beatiful in the spotlight.

Another standout was Erin Peck. She has a strong voice that could carry off any number she was asked to sing. "I'm in Love Again" was a tour de force, and Ms Peck is to be congratulated.

Gabe Russo and Gloria Szokoly sang "Begin the Beguine" while several couples danced. It was a romantic compelling number.

Will Dunne, who played Monty Woolley, was a comic standout. "Miss Otis Regrets" was hilarious, but the number he sang with Hal Williams, Don't Fence Me In", was extremely well received by the audience.

I would love the see the whole show again. I will admit that I LOVE musicals, so I do have that bias. The main purpose of the plot is to reach the next musical number, but what exciting well done musical numbers they are. The play ends in a downbeat, but during the curtain call the cast comes back with an uptune, so the audience can leave on a happy note.

This review would not be complete without commenting on the profesional quality of Chad Watkins non stop piano mastery. He the glue that holds this whole evening together.

If you like good music and good entertainment, this play is for you. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Not so Red Hot
by Okely Dokely
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
RHaC is a musical revue with a paper-thin plot, which only exists to link all the songs together. I have seen shows like this before. I have done shows like this before. Overall, I am not a fan of this type of thing. I liken this to an artist’s Greatest Hits album, which I have never cared much for either. Putting all those songs together is great, but it doesn’t tell a cohesive story like the original albums did. Who wants to see a clip show of the best scenes from the best movies? Certainly not me. I’d rather view the films individually, warts and all. This is why I tend to shy away from the occasional cop-out Simpsons episode that is nothing more than montages from previous shows.

That being said, the overall production was always competent and sometimes impressive. I commend director Jay Varnedoe for tackling the awkward situation of giving your actors blocking when there is a Baby Grand piano in the smack-dab middle of the stage the whole time. The staging always looked clean, and he should be applauded for that. Special kudos go to Chad Watkins. That man can really lay it down on the piano, and he was very animated and looked like he was having fun. Watkins was enjoyable to watch. Speical performance mention goes to the young Brandon Nonnemaker. While his acting was a bit stiff, his tenor voice was absolutely gorgeous and gave me chills. The standout number for me was a hilarious rendition of Don’t Fence Me In, performed to comic perfection by Will Dunne and Hal Williams.

Jim Noe and Valerie West put in worthy performances as the two leads: Cole Porter and Elsa/Esther, respectively. While Ms. West cracked a couple of times in her songs, she has a voice that can change volumes, textures, and emotions when appropriate for each song, and she looked stunning in her costumes. She needs to record a CD. Jim Noe’s voice was not as strong as I’ve heard before (I think the whole cast was having an “off night”), but he put in a nicely layered performance as the elegant and famously wordy songwriter.

The ending of the show is too abrupt, and it was downright confusing when the music suddenly became upbeat and all the players came out for the curtain call, when I didn’t think it was over yet. The last scene ends on such a dark, sad, sour note, that the show, the actors, and the audience have to suddently turn schizo. Many of the songs were wonderful, but it wasn’t the all-out-Broadway-glitz-and-show-stopping-glamour that I was expecting from a musical titled “Red Hot and Cole.” About 85% of the songs were mid-tempo songs to ballads. I enjoyed hearing my faves from Anything Goes and Kiss me, Kate, but I think I’ll stick with those individual shows, thank you very much.

The Holly spared no pains with the sets, costumes, props, and fantastic lighting, but the show itself is really not that red hot. I have faith that the theatre will knock ‘em dead with the next one, but in the meantime, stay away from Greatest Hits.


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