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'Let's Misbehave' full of bubbly music

Cole Porter's playful and romantic pop songs from the mid-20th century come to life in Oregon Cabaret Theatre's new dramatic revue.

"Let's Misbehave: The Music & Lyrics of Cole Porter" showcases 25 songs featuring Porter's lyrics and music. His haunting romantic classics include "Night and Day" and "Begin the Beguine" and are paired with such witty, bouncy gems as "Just One of Those Things" and "I've Got You Under My Skin."

"It's a unique show with a lot of the classics and also unpublished songs from the Cole Porter estate, which writers Karin Bowersock and Patrick Young wove into their story," says the show's director and choreographer Jim Giancarlo.

"Let's Misbehave" previews Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 8-9, at OCT, at First and Hargadine streets in Ashland. The revue opens Friday, Feb. 10, and performances are set for 8 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays (except Feb. 13) and 1 p.m. Sundays through March 18.

The drama begins in a swanky New York City apartment in the middle of the Great Depression. A party is ending, and the guests are filing out. The hostess, Dorothy, and her longtime pals Walter and Alice are wittily bantering about themselves.

"Then they realize why such fantastic people as themselves should be single," Giancarlo says. "They make a deal to find love by the Fourth of July, which isn't always easy, and it brings up the awareness that some in the trio have more than friendly affections for Walter."

In 1916, Porter's first Broadway show, "See America First," was a flop. The following year, he moved to Paris and lived lavishly as a prominent member of a fabulous and decadent society. In 1919, he married American socialite and divorcee Linda Gray, and the couple returned to New York City in the '20s. Then Porter began his theater career in earnest.

His first big hits came in 1928, with "Let's Misbehave" and "Let's Do It" from the Broadway show "Paris." The '30s found him the undisputed king of Broadway, producing hit after hit, including "Anything Goes" and "Kiss Me Kate."

Porter liked to push the boundaries of good taste, but always with great style and wit.

"He was sophisticated musically," Giancarlo says. "His melodies are full of unsuspected surprises, and his lyrics are clever with internal wordplay and rhyming. His work highlighted the dichotomy of the dire economic times of the '30s and the romance and great music that was its antidote."

Broadway musicals from the '20s through the middle of the century were the source of popular songs — most of them by songwriting duos with one writing lyrics, the other writing music. Porter was left with an enormous amount of Depression-proof cash by his grandfather and was free to be creative, with one foot in high society, the other in the artistic community.

Musical director is Audra Cramer, who also is the onstage pianist. The trio of actors are OCT regulars Kymberli Colbourne, Robin Downward and Katie Worley. Set and lighting design are by Craig Hudson, costume design by Kerri Lea Robbins and sound design by Tom Freeman.

Preview tickets cost $19. Tickets cost $36 for Fridays and Saturdays, $30 for the matinees, $26 for Sundays, $32 for weeknights and $18 for bistro seating.

A Valentine's Day performance will be offered at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. The cost is $62 per person for dinner and the show or $36 per person for dessert and the show.

For tickets, visit the box office, see www.oregoncabaret.com or call 541-488-2902. Gourmet dinners are available at 6:30 p.m. for evening shows, and brunch is available at 11:30 a.m. for Saturday and Sunday matinees. Ticket prices do not include food or beverages.

Katie Worley, Kymberli Colbourne and Robin Downward appear in Oregon Cabaret Theatre's production of 'Let's Misbehave.' - Photo by Christopher Briscoe