Cole Porter changed my life. Yes he did, although I never met the man often thought of as the greatest Broadway musical composer of his generation. (And I’d like to prove that to you on June 28 at the Dance Palace when Noah Griffin will sing the best from the Porter songbook.)
I was way back in 1949, when at the semi-tender age of 15 I chiseled some money from my mom and hopped on a bus to New York City, walked to the New Century Theater, plunked down 75 cents for a Saturday matinee ticket and settled down in the last row of the second balcony to see Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate. Wowed was I.
That day, I fell in love–with the show, with the music and lyrics, with Patricia Morrison, the female lead, and with Alfred Drake’s voice. Especially, Miss Morrison.
When this beautiful, alluring woman sang those wonderful songs, I got warm and dizzy. True love does that. And this feeling was augmented by the hot spotlights warming the back of my head, and a detectable lack of oxygen in the last row. As an added bonus, the soon- to- be great Bob Fosse was a lead dancer.
Being in love makes one do impetuous things. Dating Ms. Morrison was not possible. So, during intermission I purchased another ticket for next Saturday’s matinee. I went one more time during the run and, as an encore, went back to see Ann Jeffreys when she took over the lead role.
I had never seen a Broadway musical before; this show changed my life. From that day onward, I went from being simply “Ed” to “Broadway Sam.” I went to every musical I could I didn’t know it then, but now I can well argue the point that Kiss Me, Kate is the greatest of all Broadway musicals, and I have seen bunches of them on Broadway.
I was not alone in my love for Kiss Me, Kate, and Cole Porter. The first production of KMK was the smashiest of smash hits. Ran for over 1000 performances and received five Tony Awards.
Hold on. The fabulous 1999 revival, one step above mere dynamite, received seven Tony Awards and nine additional nominations! That is staying power. I was so fortunate to see the original and this revival 50 years apart!
For me, Porter reigns supreme. Join me on June 28 and get your tickets now. www.dancepalace.org or call 6663-1075. I can’t wait!