Love Expressed “Night and Day” at The Theater Barn
“Night and Day: Love Lost and Found Through the Eyes of Cole Porter” is a revue at The Theater Barn of over two dozen Porter classics and a story about two couples spending a country weekend together. It is based on an idea by Robert Cacioppo, it was conceived and written by Robert Cacioppo with Arthur D’Alessio. Musical arrangements are by Victoria Casella. It is receiving only its second production and its regional premiere.
I would think it’s part of a singer’s job to impose an order, a narrative on a song you’re singing. They would, I suppose, come up with associations and structure within their imagination to convey a song’s meaning, the audience would never make these explicit connections. Mr Cacioppo and Mr. D’Alessio have structured a story of these two couples who stray from their partners, in the throes of headlong love by night, seeing things from a different perspective by the light of day. “Night and Day.” They’ve set the evening in a Berkshires mansion in the 30’s, perhaps because the Porters had a house in Williamstown at the time? The furniture is covered with drop cloths which are removed by the Butler played by Producing Artistic Director, Allen Phelps, who readies the room and repeatedly stocks the drinks in preparation for the arrival of the two couples.
When is a musical revue more than the sum of its parts? How much of a story is there when there aren’t even two lines of dialogue? Yes, you can identify easily enough who are the couples as Matt Michael and Natalie Brouwer offer a smooth sailing rendition of “True Love” from the movie “High Society” at the top of the show which segues nicely into “Riding High.” Lindsay Braverman and Jarod Bakum get their own pair of duets with “You Do Something to Me” and “You’re Just Too Too” before everyone switches partners when Mr. Michael and Ms. Braverman offer “Let’s Misbehave” and “Let’s Do It.” Prior to the affair, Matt Michael gives a nice, dark and brooding “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” All drop their wedding rings into a bud vase to signify a key party of sorts.
The cast are terrifically accomplished singers. Jarod Bakum and Natalie Brouwer (who had the strongest, most persuasive voice of the night for me) shared a terrific duet on “From This Moment On” before intermission. Lindsey Braverman gets her own turn on “I Get a Kick Out of You” and wouldn’t she make a great Reno? The men have a robust duet in the first act that’s all hale and hearty on “Kiss Me Kate”’s “Where is the Life that Late I Led?” and an especially winning straight-faced goofiness on “Friendship” that rivals any of the love songs. It’s great to see such strong men together in a Porter piece. There is a striking picture in the opening of the second act, aided by the lighting design of Joseph Sicotte, which isolates the four performers in a pool of light and they each have an individual questioning song like “Why Can’t You Behave?” and “What is this Thing Called Love?” which underlined their existential troubles vividly. All rings are retrieved and the evening closes with “In the Still of the Night” and “Night and Day.”
The choreography is by the director Arthur D’Alessio and its fun in its nostalgic associations although occasionally you wanted to give the actors extra credit for negotiating all the furniture, especially that couch. Musical Director Victoria Casella accompanies the cast on piano and surely must be the hardest working theater artist in the building with all that score. The costumes designed by Kara Demler were exemplary with a few pieces, Ms. Brouwer’s stunning Act I blue gown and Ms. Braverman’s marabou trimmed dressing gown being knockouts. The sound designed by Joseph Sicotte had its issues early in the evening but soon righted itself, allowing all the glorious Porter standards to be heard. “Night and Day” is a sumptuous feast of Porter delivered by a wonderful cast up to the task. I wasn’t completely sold on the structure imposed on the huge collection of songs but I was certainly satisfied with the terrific performances within.