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Red Hot & Cole
Directed by Sarah Redmond

A review by Tanith Lindon for EXTRA! EXTRA! Red Hot And Cole!

Red Hot & Cole at the Landor theatre in Clapham is an upbeat revue of the life and music of Broadway songwriter, Cole Porter. Red Hot & Cole is packed with a combination of foot-tapping tunes and cheeky innuendo that teases out a grin as soon as the jolly plinking of the piano

begins. The seating is arranged in the round, encircling a grand piano that remains the central focus throughout the performance and is played almost without break. Under a sparkling chandelier, Porter’s story is told by his friends through an anecdotal blur of the parties that linked together to form his life.

With the exception of Michael Chance (who played Cole Porter), the cast took on multiple roles, and all six actors were able to show off their singing talents with several solo numbers each. The musical numbers were peppered with jolly dance sequences, which worked very well in the round, bringing the cast together and enabling them to interact with the audience; The girls were particularly strong vocally, singing lovely trills and harmonies, such as in ‘I’m in Love with a Soldier Boy’. Silk-clad Yinka Williams gave a great piano-top number, and treated the audience to a spot of tap dancing, while Ian Dring’s Noel Coward worked marvellously in both song and speech. The musical numbers were peppered with jolly dance sequences, which worked very well in the round, bringing the cast together and enabling them to interact with the audience; a skill that Sarah Applewood was particularly adept at. Dian Perry was very versatile, making distinct physical changes between characters, as well as wielding a very powerful voice and sharp comic sense, which she shares with Ian Dring.

Cole as a character does not seems to be as strong a force as the circles he moves in, which is either due to an underplaying of the role by Michael Chance, or it is a conscious expression of Porter’s humility, and the fact that in real life, he was more of a songwriter than performer. After all, when asked if he had “any courage”, he replied “I don’t know” - not the answer you would expect from an international star.

Red Hot & Cole works well as a tribute show; it is fun, it packs in the numbers, and what is most important - the music is excellent.