I loved LOVE, LINDA so much, when I saw it in its earlier incarnation at the Triad Theater.
But I must say, that this jaded theatergoer could never have imagined it getting even better.
Well, it did.
It has evolved from a brilliant hybrid work of art, to a bona-fide theater piece.
Richard Maltby’s staging and contribution has clearly been instrumental in taking it to this next level.
In addition, Holland and Friedman’s story has been expanded, and new musical material has been added, with more ingenious arrangements and original underscoring by Gary William Friedman.
And Stevie Holland is more stunning than ever.
Freed from the constraints of a hand-held mike, and cut loose in a true theatrical environment, with a classy, dream-like set, she has unleashed a truly tour de force performance as an actress, and one of the great vocalists of our time!
Below is Playman’s original review for LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER.
The spirits of two Columbia students from 1915, Lorenz “Larry ” Hart and Richard “Ricky” Rogers, young men who have a dream of one day writing lyrics and music on Broadway…..have just seen Stevie Holland Star in Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter, at The York. The young men leave the theater…walk west and reach Broadway.
Hart: That was tremendous.
Rodgers: I totally agree. What a great concept for a show, and brilliantly realized.
Hart: Singer and actress Stevie Holland and musical arranger Gary William Friedman have created a one woman-plus-band-show about Linda Porter…which brings us the biography of Cole Porter, as told by Cole’s wife, Linda, while Stevie-as-Linda performs great Porter songs that capture various highlights of his career.
Rodgers: Linda Lee Thomas met Cole Porter on January 30th, 1918. They married and were the toast of Paris…They were both fabulously wealthy, Linda was a Kentucky born heiress, and a line from the show is “Boy with 1 million weds girl with 2” when they wed in 1919 that meant a heck of a lot, my friends.
Hart: Linda basically inspired and sponsored Cole, and it was with her support that he had his first real hit “Let’s Do It” from the musical “Paris” which is performed with magical elegance in “Love Linda.”
Rodgers: There are several aspects that make the play outstanding. The tale of Linda and Cole Porter has been told several times….in, at least, two major films. No one has ever focused entirely on Linda…and in doing this in her one woman show….singer and actress Stevie Holland creates a dramatic undertow to the entire piece. Yes, society “gay divorcees” may fall for gay men, particularly if you’re Cole Porter, of a remarkable personality and great talent…but we see in this piece the degree to which Cole was Linda’s life in some way. ….they claimed to have a sex life and to produce a child (that was lost to miscarriage) and in no way is their relationship seen here as cold…as it was, at least, in 2004 film “De-lovely.’ This play captured brilliantly the sparkle between them as felt by Linda who was enraptured by Porter and the era and their adventures and their haunts. Except Hollywood. When they went to Hollywood and Cole became part of the shallow life style of young surfer dudes and bungalow boys…and Linda felt over shadowed by shallow starlets, that was too much for her. She high-tailed it back to Paris.
Hart: As any of us would…
Rodgers: And Cole chased her there because he genuinely loved her. We feel these things more strongly as told entirely from Linda’s perspective ..That question: Why? when asked of a particular time when everyone was amazingly interesting, birds and bees and beans were doing it, and the dash of a life with such spark pretty much renders the question moot (i. e .why should a straight gal stay with a gay dude) ….is most interesting as answered entirely by Linda.
Hart: And she’s performing his catalog…brilliantly. And based on that catalog alone…birds, bees and beans would be interested in staying with Cole Porter.
Rodgers: It’s dazzling. The musical arrangements by Gary William Friedman are top notch. The three piece band is great and elegant. Richard Maltby, Jr.’s direction is perfect…You’ll come away from this show wanting to 1) Learn the Cole Porter song book on the Riviera 2) See the show again.
Hart: As a musician and lyricist Cole Porter did not have many peers.
Rodgers: Which reminds me…I’ve gotta write some music!
Hart: And how! And I’ve got to write some lyrics….wait a minute..it’s coming to me… My funny….Santa Claus…sweet comic….Santa Claus….
Rodgers: Hmmm….I hear something there. Rodgers taps a spectral foot and begins to hum. The boys continue to walk, up town, humming and composing lyrics, on Broadway. CURTAIN