On a cloudy Thursday night, the Texas Woman’s University department of music and theater opened up this weekend’s performances of “Hot N’ Cole: A Cole Porter Celebration!” on the steps of the Margo Jones Performance Hall.
Hot N’ Cole, running April 22-25 and directed by Patrick Bynane and musical director Melissa Hall, was a wonderful musical play filled with witty lyrics, laughs and some blues. All music and words were written by Cole Porter, an American composer and songwriter.
The cast features undergraduates Kaylon Browning, Camden Riefler, Tyler Voyles, Emily Perry, William Clark, Kendra Flusche and Regan Ellis. The girls wore cute polka dot dresses with sweaters and character shoes while the boys wore plaid vests with dress pants and 1920s-style black and white shoes.
Considering the outside environment, the department did an excellent job in maintaining the lights and use of props. In the end of the first half, confetti exploded from the window above surprising the audience.
The play consisted of group numbers, solos, duets and trios. The formations throughout the play favored the step’s pathways, and the cast used all their space, including on the side of the building. While there was not a stage to perform on, that did not stop the cast from going full-out on the steps of the performance hall.
After the first number the cast opened with some facts about the exciting new social norms for the time period. I thought sharing those facts helped the audience understand the context of the play better. The roaring 20s opened more nightlife attractions like Jazz Clubs.
Throughout the play, the songs ranged from sad blues and smooth melodies to upbeat party vibes. Senior acting and theatre major Camden Riefler opened the song “I’m Throwing a Ball Tonight” with a confetti shower singing “I feel like a million dollars.” His deep vocals captured the feeling of 1930s music perfectly.
Senior theatre major William Clark stole the show with his charismatic singing and dancing. I could see his love and passion for performing through his movements that mesmerized the audience the whole time.
In the start of the second act, it began raining as the cast sang “Too Darn Hot” and I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony because outside, the weather was freezing. Despite the rain, the cast pushed through the drizzle and the show went on.
Junior acting and directing theatre major Regan Ellis gave the audience a good laugh when she stole a member of the audience for her solo. She sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” in a blonde wing and a fuzzy boa. As the volunteer sat in the chair, smiles were displayed on everyone’s faces.
Directly after Ellis’s solo, we had a 23-19 emergency. The chair needed to be evacuated and a guy in a hazmat suit came and took away the hazard. I absolutely loved the “Monsters Inc.” joke and thought that they did an amazing job in the creativity to remove the chair.
I personally am not a fan of musicals, however, I found myself laughing along with the audience in parts. I enjoyed watching the play and the 1920s-themed music. Considering the circumstances with COVID-19, I thought the department did an amazing job producing a play to bring friends together for a few laughs.
Deanna West can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.