Cole Porter Expert Judith Brown Charged With Murder

News   Cole Porter Expert Judith Brown Charged With Murder
 
Cole Porter expert Judith Brown was scheduled to oversee a Nov. 2 master class on the Broadway composer-lyricist at her alma mater, the University of Michigan, but staff, students and faculty got shocking news: She has been charged with murder.

New York City resident Brown, who created and musical directed York Theatre Company's 2002-03 revue, Porterphiles, Off-Broadway, was charged in Pennsylvania for what police called a brutal murder. Her 88-year-old brother-in-law, Joseph Bertilacci, was struck 30 to 40 times with blunt objects in his home in Stroud Township, PA, according to a police report.

According to the Pocono Record, Brown was staying with Bertilacci, the widower of her late sister. Bertilacci's body was found Oct. 25 by his 52-year-old daughter, who called police. Brown was discovered on the floor in a nearby room, pretending to be passed out, police said.

Brown told police she was frightened of Bertilacci and that he had made sexual advances. The Record reported that police said she hit him with "lots of things" to defend herself.

Daughter Janet Bertilacci told police that two days before the murder Brown punched and threw food at Joseph Bertilacci.

Judy Brown, as she is known in the theatre community, is a leading authority on the music of Cole Porter, including his entire unpublished output.  She compiled and edited "Cole Porter Rediscovered" for Warner Bros. Publications and has recorded "Unmined Cole: Unpublished Gems of Cole Porter" with soprano Paulina Stark. *

Porterphiles, a world premiere revue celebrating lesser-known "unpublished" Porter songs, opened Dec. 19, 2002, and featured such oddities as "Pets," "Tequila," "Pitter Patter," "Who, But You?" and "Ah Fong Lo."

Porterphiles — the title of which is a reference to those addicted to Porter's de-lovely songs — was devised by Cole Porter expert Brown (who also musical directed) with the blessing of the Porter Trust. James Morgan, the York's artistic director, directed, with musical staging by Barry McNabb.

The cast included Lynne Halliday, Ricky Russell and Stephen Zinnato, singing songs even diehard Porterphiles might not know.

The show included "We Shall Never Be Younger," "The Extra Man," "A Weekend Affair," "Wild Wedding Bells," "Pets," "It's No Laughing Matter," "Kathleen," "Who, But You?," "Don't Let It Get You Down," "Coffee," "Through Thick and Thin," "So What?," "I Wrote a Play," "Salt Air," "In Case You Don't Know," "Just Another Page in Your Diary," "Ah Fong Lo" — all lesser-known Porter tunes — by the songwriter of Kiss Me, Kate, Anything Goes, Silk Stockings and Can Can.

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