Prologue Theatre Productions, embraced for stagings of musical revues in Chicago over the past decade, toasts songwriter Cole Porter Sept. 18, when Cole: The Songs of Cole Porter opens at The Theatre Building.
The musical revue originated in London in 1974 at the Mermaid Theatre. Its two-album cast recording (apparently not yet available on CD) yields obscure riches, including "Bingo Eli Yale," "Lost Liberty Blues," "See America First," "Tomorrow," and "Dizzy Baby," as well as hits from composer-lyricist Porter's hit Broadway shows, Paris, Fifty Million Frenchmen, Kiss Me Kate and more.
Previews for the revue began Sept. 13 under the direction of Allan Chambers. Musical direction is by Anita Greenberg (Prologue's producer) and choreography is by Jennifer Rose.
Prologue is part of Chicago's vibrant non-Equity professional scene. "We specialize in musicals," producer Greenberg told Playbill On-Line. "Our mission is to do them in an intimate house, where you can connect with the audience and where we do not have to use mikes." Cole is presented in a 150-seat space in The Theatre Building.
Past Prologue productions include Some Enchanted Evening: The Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Starting Here, Starting Now, Sweet and Hot: The Songs of Harold Arlen and Greenberg's revue of popular music, Romance American Style. Prologue usually stages one musical revue yearly, and a book musical perhaps every other year, Greenberg said. In July 1999, the company presented a staging of a new non-musical play, Langston's Lab, about the three months Langston Hughes taught at the Laboratory School in Chicago. It was presented in a co-production with the University of Chicago Laboratory School using a hybrid cast of students and professionals in residence at the Court Theatre.
The company of Cole includes Brad Benedict, Julie S. Boesch, Kevin Castleberry, Jennifer R. Connelly, Sadie Gaughan, Jo Statton, Ben Stoner and Wayne Wendell.
Designers are Tony Mowry (sets), Mary Niehaus (costumes) and David vanWert (lighting).
Performances continue to Oct. 24 at The Theatre Building, 1225 W. Belmont. Call (773) 327-5252 for ($18-$20) ticket information.
-- By Kenneth Jones