An orchestra and singing actors bring the memorable music of Cole Porter to life in Payson next week. The Tonto Community Concert Association is presenting "I Get a Kick Out of Cole" at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31 in the Payson High School Auditorium.
The program, a review of sorts with a four-piece orchestra and six singing actors, celebrates the musical genius and legacy of one of America's most beloved songwriters, Cole Porter.
"It is one of the biggest concerts we've put on," said Steve Solcz, publicity chairman for TCCA.
The production features numerous colorful costume changes of formal elegance reflecting the sleek sophistication of Porter's music. The set has multiple levels for the orchestra and cast with the focal point of an art deco backdrop.
Porter was a "true" songwriter, because in most cases he wrote both music and lyrics for such well-known tunes as "Night and Day," "Begin the Beguine," "Don't Fence Me In," "You're the Top," "Anything Goes," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "Friendship."
He was well educated and traveled extensively, which are both reflected in his songs. Porter was born in 1891 and died in 1964.
Porter went to Paris in 1917 and in 1919 married Linda Lee Thomas. They spent much of the 1920s living in Europe with the "lost" generation of writers, artists and intellectuals. In the late 1920s Porter began achieving real success with such works as "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" and "You Do Something to Me."
The 1930s brought even more success, with numerous hit Broadway shows and work on Hollywood musicals.
"I Get a Kick Out of Cole" was conceived, written and directed by Matt Davenport. Longtime TCCA subscribers will recall the "The Tennessee Waltz" and "Roping the West" with delight, when Davenport brought his productions to the Payson stage.
Local residents who are not subscribers to the season series may attend for $20. Students, up to age 18, may attend free if accompanied by a concert subscriber.
For information, call (928) 474-4515 or (928) 474-6723.
The Tonto Community Concert Association is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season. It will bring two more series concerts to audiences later this year -- percussionist Paul McDermand performs March 12 and pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi will be featured April 2.
McDermand began his musical career in the Chicago area. One of his early instructors was the premier freelance percussionist in the city. Recognizing McDermand's unusual gift, he selected the then 19-year-old to take over the percussion duties on a popular theatrical production playing in one of Chicago's better theaters. Sensing McDermand's apprehension, his mentor intoned, "You have nothing to worry about. The star of the show is exactly your age, and he's not nervous, so why should you be?" The show? "The Magic Man." That other 19-year-old. David Copperfield.
Enhanced by classical guitar, grand piano and full orchestration. McDermand's exuberant steel drums and soft, sensual marimba lead the listener through a vast array of standard, classical and popular works.
Antonio Pompa-Baldi was named Silver Medalist at the 11th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in June 2001. The Italian pianist was awarded two years of concert engagements, career management and a compact disc recording of his award-winning performances for the Harmonia Mundi label. He was also the recipient of the Phyllis Jones Tilley Memorial Award for the Best Performance of a New Work for his performances of Lowell Lieberman's Three Impromptus during the semifinal round.
He has appeared as soloist with the Orchestre National de Paris-Radio France, the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana, the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Spokane Symphony.
Solcz said plans are being made for a special concert of thanks to the community for its support. The date and other details are pending.