Denver Center to Premiere Randal Myler's Latest, Nat King Cole, May 13

News   Denver Center to Premiere Randal Myler's Latest, Nat King Cole, May 13
Crooner Nat King Cole is the latest singer to get the Randal Myler treatment. Myler, who has shaped musical shows around such deceased icons as Hank Williams, Janis Joplin and John Denver, has created Nat King Cole & Me: A Musical Healing with author and co-conceiver Gregory Porter.
Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole

The show will have its premiere at Denver Center Theatre Company, May 13-June 5, 2004. Opening is set for May 20.

Porter was an original Broadway cast member of the Tony-nominated musical It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, another Myler show. While the two were working on that show, they began collaborating on a Cole project. According to press notes, "Gregory Porter grew up during the 1980s in Southern California. He was raised by his hard-working mother who gave him a strong sense of family and self worth. Young Gregory made a spiritual connection while listening to an old Nat King Cole album and found the father, hero and friend he had always wanted."

The son of a Alabama Baptist minister, Cole began his career as the head of a well-regarded jazz trio (he played piano and sang). But he became world famous as the handsome, dapper and smooth-voiced singer behind such silken standards as "Mona Lisa" and "Unforgettable." Dignified, uncontroversial and soft-spoken, he was mainstream enough to win a heterogeneous fan base and his own 1950s television show. The show was popular and boasted top guests. However, Cole ended it after one season because the program failed to attract a sponsor. "I guess Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark," he commented at the time. He achieved 28 gold records before dying of lung cancer in 1965. His memory was revived when his daughter, Natalie Cole, recorded a popular album of standards made famous by her father, including a version of "Unforgettable," in which she dueted with her late dad's voice.

Nat King Cole & Me will feature the songs "Unforgettable," "Smile," "Sweet Lorraine," "Ballerina," "LOVE" and "When I Fall in Love."

The set designer is Michael Brown; costume designer is Kevin Copenhaver; lighting designer is Don Darnutzer; and sound designer is David R. White. Myler's latest show, Almost Heaven, about John Denver, recently played the Denver Center.

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