Cole Porter’s Greatest Hits

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter Porter logo

Directed by Rudy Hogenmiller

Music Director Roger L. Bingaman

Produced by Light Opera Works

At Nichols Concert Hall, Evanston

The lyrics shine as Cole Porter’s songs come alive in Evanston

Cole Porter (1891 – 1964) was a witty, elegant , urban composer/lyricist who epitomized sophistication  as a tune smith writing songs for Broadway and Hollywood over five decades from the teens through the 1950’s. His rhythms were authentic as he specialized in love songs depicting smart romance.  Tune like “Let’s Do It,” “Easy to Love,” ” I Get a Kick Out of You,” ‘What is This Thing Called Love?” and “So in Love.” became popular standards covered by Frank Sinatra and Eli Fitzgerald among others. Porter’s music is slick and smooth but his lyrics made him special.

Cole Porter's Greatest Hits

In the two hour revue, now running at Nicholas Concert Hall in Evanston, we hear James Harms, James Rank, Mary Robin Roth and, in the Saturday, Oct 4 matinee Alicia Berneche sang for Katelin Spencer who suffered with a throat aliment as Spencer performed all the movements. This worked nicely as Berneche expertly took over at the last minute for the ailing Spencer. This cast  joyfully sang, in character, the Porter songbook deftly. Harms and Roth easily nailed the comic tunes while Rank and Bermeche expressed the more romantic songs. There were fine solos and rich harmonies as this cast of talented singers presented Cole Porter’s songs to the delight of the audience.

Cole Porter's Greatest Hits

From the revue’s opening number – (what else?) – “Another Op’nin, Another Show,” to “It’s De-lovely” to “Let’s Misbehave” to the haunting “Night and Day” to the chilling “In the Still of the Night,” we hear the genius and skilled  Porter repertory in its glory. With Porter, the lyrics truly sing out!

Act Two features Porter’s witty take on ‘That Funny Thing Called Love’ as his “Love for Sale,” ‘True Love” and “Too Darn Hot” were featured. Each of the four players (including Spencer/Berneche) had their moments. Mary Robin Roth sold the comic tunes while James Rank was the slick leading man and James Harms, (who never sang better) captured Porter’s sincerity and romance. Alicia Berneche was amazing as she skillfully snag the complex Porter song book with little preparation.

The music soared from conductor/pianist Roger L. Bingaman with Joseph Krzysiak on bass and Phil Martin on drums. They  nimbly produced Porter’s music with flare.

Take all the youngsters in your life to hear a master songwriter’s work neatly song by a veteran cast presenting  a varied, engrossing revue of memorable show tunes that have survived the test of time. Cole Porter’s songbook needs to be heard again by us fans of genius composers/lyricists. Porter takes his place among Gershwin, Sondheim, Berlin and Herman.  Light Opera Works, once again, has a hit revue going that begs a trip to Evanston.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

At Nicholas Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago Ave., Evanston, IL, call 847-920-5360,, Sunday, Oct 5 at 2pm, Wed., Oct 8 at 2 pm, Friday, Oct 10 at 8 pm, Sat., oct 11 at 2 & 8 pm, Sun, Oct 12 at 2pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission.4