Clearly the word had gotten around the city of Houston that Cole Porter was back in town, and better still he was in the capable hands of the ever-more popular Lone Star Lyric Company on the opening night of its fall Cabaret Series last Friday. The show was aptly titled “Perfectly Porter,” and the venue was Houston’s trendy, intimate and multi-tiered nightclub, Ovations. Many in the SRO audience were part of LSL’s growing fan base during the 8 years of its successful operation presenting opera, musical theatre and operetta. Adding to the popularity is the group’s Cabaret Series of the past two years, and it did not hurt at all that radio host, Ben Stevenson featured LSL Artistic Director, Kelli Estes and members of her current cast with a Porter Preview last week on his popular show, The Front Row. (Broadcast on Houston’s classical music station, KUHA 91.7).
With the effervescent Miss Estes hosting the evening, the group offered a sumptuous smorgasbord of Porter tunes. In addition to Estes, the talented vocalists included Sarah Brindley, Kelley Kimball and Hal Spencer, with Grant Martin on percussion and dazzling pianist, Joseph Li, presiding on the eighty-eight. With a variety of solos, duets and even quartets, the audience was treated to such Porter hits as “Too Darn Hot,” “Down in the Depths,” “I Hate Men,” “Night and Day,” “I Am Loved,” “What Is This Thing Called Love,” “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To,” “C’est Magnifique,” “So In Love,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”
The show featured an amusing anecdote about the origination of Porter’s black comedy number, “Miss Otis Regrets,” nicely sung here by Brindley. Reportedly, Porter created that song on the dare of a friend who challenged him to write a song about the next thing overheard in the restaurant where they were having lunch. Tunes that delighted the audience after intermission included, “Easy to Love,” (great work from Mr. Li), “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall In Love,” and an audience sing-a-long of, “Don’t Fence Me In,” led by Mr. Spencer while spicing things up on his harmonica. The musical fun continued with, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” “Love For Sale,” “Get Out of Town,” “Always True to You In My Fashion,” “I Get A Kick Out of You,” and an “In the Still of the Night,” that featured some solid drums from Mr. Martin.
The singers joined forces for a sparkling finale of, “Anything Goes,” that brought cheers from the smiling crowd. It seemed Miss Estes was correct when during her introduction she mentioned a quip attributed to the late Bob Hope: “You don’t throw around the word genius very often, but I think it lands mighty close to Mr. Porter!”
Now celebrating its 8th season, LONE STAR LYRIC has carved out a unique niche in Houston’s theater community with a mission to explore the untapped lyric theater repertory of the past, and to promote new works by living American composers. The group’s current Lyric Cabaret series at Ovations nightclub features music of the Great American Songbook in a style described as “a cocktail concert with no dress code.” Future LSL Cabaret programs (see list below) are Fridays at 8pm and Sundays at 5pm, with an additional 10pm performance on the dates indicated with an asterisk.
Till death do us part…Happy Halloween! -October 25* & 27
Swingin’ at the Canteen – A Veteran’s Day Celebration -November 22* & 24
A Woman’s Prerogative – Ladies are Taking Over -January 24 & 26
Fat Tuesday Feast – Way Down Yonder in New Orleans -February 21 & 23
Mercy, Mercer! – Words and Music of Johnny Mercer -March 28 & 30
Americans in Paris- Art of the Chanteuse – April 25* & 27
Best of All Possible Worlds -Words and Music of Stephen Sondheim -May 16* & 18
FOR TICKETS & INFORMATION call 917-414-9577 or visit the website at www.LoneStarLyric.com.