Red, Hot and Blue!, the largely-forgotten Cole Porter musical that gave us the alliterative, nonsensical and hyperbolic "It's De-Lovely," gets a rare revival — in a revised form — at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT. Official opening is Nov. 3, following previews from Oct. 13.
Director Michael Leeds is revising the 1936 Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay script for the Goodspeed run. The tuner offered two of Porter's enduring hits: "It's De-Lovely" and "Ridin' High," to say nothing of the cabaret favorite, "Down in the Depths." A spokesperson told Playbill On Line six numbers are being cut from the original score and seven from the Porter catalog (including "Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye," "Just One of Those Things," "I've Got You Under My Skin") are being interpolated.
Performances continue to Dec. 31 at the theatre where Annie was born. Peter Reardon (Meet Me in St. Louis) will play the role created by Bob Hope, Debbie Gravitte (Jerome Robbins' Broadway) will play the role created by Ethel Merman and Ben Lipitz plays the role created by Jimmy Durante.
The Red, Hot and Blue! plot centers around Nails Duquesne (Gravitte), a former manicurist turned wealthy widow. She holds a lottery to help her lawyer, Bob Hale (Reardon), find the lost love of his life. To assist in the search, Nails and her perennial debutantes arrange for the parole of several prison inmates. The leader, Policy Pinkle (Lipitz), is a sentimental jailbird who resents his release from luxurious prison life. The Senate Finance Committee eventually gets involved. The search for a missing heiress includes this plot point: Her identity can only be determined by a waffle-iron mark on her behind.
Also in the original score are "Down in the Depths," "The Ozarks Are Callin' Me Home," "Red, Hot and Blue," "What a Great Pair We'll Be," "Five Hundred Million," "You've Got Something," "Carry On" and "Ours." For the record, this new "revisal," will feature "Perennial Debutantes," "Down In the Depths," "Carry On," "Five Hundred Million," "It's De-Lovely," "Ridin' High," "The Ozarks Are Callin' Me Home," "Hymn to Hymen" and "Red, Hot and Blue" (all from the original score) plus interpolations "It Ain't Etiquette" from DuBarry Was a Lady, "You've Got That Thing"/"You Do Something to Me" from Fifty Million Frenchmen, "I'm Throwing a Ball Tonight" from Panama Hattie, "Just One of Those Things" from Leave it to Me, "I've Got You Under My Skin" from the film, "Born to Dance," "Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye" from Red, Hot and Blue! (cut out of town).
The cast of 21 also includes Brian Barry (Rats), Robin Baxter (Peaches), Lesley Blumenthal, Randy Bobish (Bugs), Dianna Bush (Olive), Paul Carlin, Kevin Covert (Leonard), Beth Glover, Billy Hartung (Fingers), Jessica Kostival (Grace), Stephanie Kurtzuba (Jane), Kristin Maloney (Helen), Steve Luker (Eagle Eye), Jody Madaras, Trish Reidy (Vivian), Vince Trani, Matt Williams (Coyote), and Darlene Wilson (Barbara).
The musical director is Michael O'Flaherty, with sets by Ken Foy, costumes by Ann Hould-Ward and lighting by Ken Billington. Andy Blankenbuehler (Fosse, Saturday Night Fever) is choreographer. Director Leeds wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Swinging on a Star at Goodspeed-at-Chester, which transferred to the mainstage and then to Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical.
Gravitte has played big-voiced dames in Jerome Robbins' Broadway and Tenderloin (Encores!), Lipitz appeared in Broadway's recent A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
Tickets are $20-$42. For information, call Goodspeed box office (860) 873-8668.
Dedicated to the preservation and advancement of musical theatre, Goodspeed Musicals produces six musicals each season at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT, and at its second stage, Goodspeed-at Chester/The Norma Terris Theatre in Chester, CT. The Terris opened in 1984 for the development of new musicals.
Goodspeed-at-Chester/The Norma Terris Theatre presents a revised version of Jerry Herman's Dear World Nov. 16-Dec. 10.
—By Robert Simonson
and Kenneth Jones