It was just one of those nights: you know the kind, where one brilliant, honeyed-voiced legend channels the musical genius of another past legend and brings to life something new. The Pre-Broadway world premiere of Harry Connick, Jr.: A Celebration of Cole Porter introduces a kind of time-bending feeling of nostalgia for a time and a music that might have passed before you were even born, but you still find yourself missing it. Yeah … it was one of those nights.
“It was just one of those fabulous flights — A trip to the moon on gossamer wings — Just one of those things.” — Cole Porter
Multiple Grammy winner, Harry Connick, Jr. can seemingly do it all, and Harry Connick, Jr.: A Celebration of Cole Porter, which premiered yesterday at the Duke Performing Arts Center (DPAC) has it all. The show blends multimedia fantasy, impressive set design from Tony Award® winner, Beowulf Boritt and Alexis Distler, theater, dance, and even some comedy into an entertaining musical journey you won’t soon forget.
The show takes you from Connick’s roots in small clubs in New Orleans, to penthouse life in the big city. Connick puts his mark on Porter’s songbook making his music more accessible for modern audiences while maintaining the ultimate respect for Cole Porter’s sound. Connick endeavors to take you on a tour Porter’s life and music ultimately resurrecting him with the help of actor/choreographer, Luke Hawkins for a spectacular dance number on an even more spectacular piano.
“To live it again is past all endeavour – Except when that tune clutches my heart” — “To Begin the Beguine” — Cole Porter
Porter is responsible for countless American standards did not fit the singer/songwriter mold of his day; and this is, perhaps, why his work resonates so well with Harry Connick, Jr., who clearly feels a kinship with Porter and his music.
Connick’s enthusiasm for the material is delightful and one of the most entertaining parts of the show is where Connick takes you inside the process of arrangement and orchestration. It plays like a multimedia masterclass in music theory; and it is at once, fascinating, funny, and wildly entertaining to see how songs are shaped. The orchestra shines during this part and, indeed, throughout the whole show. In fact, if the show featured the orchestra alone, you would still probably feel as if your ticket money was well spent. They are that good and entertaining to watch.
Connick tours with his band, but supplements his orchestra with local musicians; and we can all be very proud of our local talent playing on this world-premiere weekend. Connick not only was impressed with them, the sold out and enthusiastic crowd, but he also gave a bonhomme shoutout to Mateo Bar de Tapas, where he’d had dinner the night before!
To say that Harry Connick, Jr.’s voice is perfect, or that he is unimaginably charming and talented, is like saying that the ocean is wet and lovely to look at. It is simply a gross understatement.
But Connick’s voice is perfect, he is unimaginably charming and talented, and this show is very entertaining. You should get out and see it today before it is gone, but not just for the reasons I mentioned. You should get out and see it, because people don’t often get the chance to see something as significant as one legendary performer bringing the music of another back to a whole new audience.
SECOND OPINION: Sept. 21st Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Glenn McDonald: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article235343792.html and Sept. 13th preview by Glenn McDonald: https://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/article234939572.html; and Sept. 18th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://indyweek.com/events/harry-connick-sun-dpac-september-2019/.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents HARRY CONNICK JR.: A CELEBRATION OF COLE PORTER, Pre-Broadway world premiere, at 1 p.m. Sept. 22nd at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $$49.50, plus taxes and ticket fees. Click here to enter the digital lottery for $25 tickets.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or https://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/369510/734037.SHOW: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/harry-connick-jr-a-celebration-of-cole-porter and https://www.facebook.com/events/402703657024437/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHakukI5oQk.
DPAC NEWS RELEASES: https://triangleexplorer.com/2019/09/19/digital-lottery-for-harry-connick-jr-a-celebration-of-cole-porter-at-dpac/ and https://www.dpacnc.com/news/detail/harry-connick-jr-world-premiere-of-pre-broadway-show-to-play-dpac.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.dpacnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
Cole Porter (Peru, IN-born composer and lyricist, 1891-1964): https://www.britannica.com/biography/Cole-Porter (Encyclopædia Britannica), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/cole-porter-12257 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006234/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cole_Porter (Wikipedia)
Harry Connick, Jr. (New Orleans, LA-born pianist and vocalist): https://www.harryconnickjr.com/ (official website), https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-cast-staff/harry-connick-jr-47302 (Internet Broadway Database), https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001065/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/harryconnickjr/ (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/HarryConnickJR (Twitter page), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Connick_Jr. (Wikipedia).
Nicole Noel is a former U.S. Army journalist-turned-Technical Knowledge Manager, with a love for the arts. At age seven, she wrote her first story on the wall of her basement after being told the family might have to move: “There once was a girl named Nicole who had a dog named Rat and they lived in this house.” She liked the way that you could capture a moment in a sentence, and still does. These days Nicole lives with her daughter, and a dog named Buffy, in a house in Fuquay-Varina. Click here to read her reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.