Banquet Room, Sun 7 Jun
In Cole, the musical tribute to songwriter Cole Porter, Michael Griffiths embodies the joy and tension of being Cole Porter beautifully. His voice is perfectly suited to the music, its era and the required precise annunciation. Griffiths brings to life both the carefree pleasure-seeking and the tragic melancholy of Porter’s lyrics with equal success and his vocal control and range is impressive.
Writer Anna Goldsworthy weaves the story of Porter’s life into the show with precision and panache. Combined with Griffiths’ delivery, sometimes all it takes is a word or two, a sly double entendre, and the audience knows exactly what is implied. Porter’s music is the focus, as it should be, but Goldsworthy’s tight, efficient writing delivers a story punch, maintains momentum and builds to the great tragedy of Porter’s horse-riding accident.
The songs really are pretty special. Porter wrote so much superb music, and the songs, written in the 1920s and 1930s, still exist in our cultural lexicon: Anything Goes, Delovely, I Love Paris In The Springtime, Let’s Fall In Love, Under My Skin, Let’s Misbehave, Night And Day and more.
Special moments where Griffiths goes off the Porter script and reimagines the lyrics into contemporary and local Adelaide settings were popular with the sell-out crowd in the Banquet Room, with references to Barry Humphries particularly tickling the audiences’ funny bone. These moments might upset the purists hoping for an exact replication of Porter’s oeuvre, but in fact Goldsworthy cleverly shows us that Porter would have done this type of play as he composed and as he shared his music with his friends.
The combination of Griffiths and Goldsworthy is indeed ‘delovely’ and between them they have created an outstanding tribute to one of the greatest songwriters ever recorded. By the time Griffiths ended the show with Every Time We Say Goodbye, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand and had taken us all on a wonderful journey through the glittery wit and desperate sadness of Porter’s life.
Michael Griffiths – Cole continues at Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre, from 4.30pm on Mon 8 Jun.
Book at BASS on 131 246 and bass.net.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Image courtesy of Nicholas Purcell Studio