Harry Connick Jr. Revives Cole Porter Classics for Broadway Residency - Rolling Stone
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Harry Connick Jr. Charms Onstage in ‘A Celebration of Cole Porter’

The singer revives the classics by the songwriting legend for his Nederlander residency

harry connick jr, broadway residency

Matthew Murphy

Harry Connick Jr. has already heard enough people ask him, “Cole Porter, who’s that?” He even says a younger person mistook Porter for Nat King Cole (No, Porter did not write “The Christmas Song”). Fortunately, this won’t stop younger audiences from enjoying Harry Connick Jr: A Celebration of Cole Porter at the Nederlander Theatre on Broadway

Connick’s residency runs from through December 29th, with a 25-piece orchestra and rolling stage sets. This is the jazz musician’s third concert on Broadway, and perhaps the most extravagant, showcasing all of his talents: singing, playing piano, and even tap dancing.

Unless you went to Yale or saw Kiss Me, Kate on Broadway, you may not be as familiar with any of the 15 Porter songs in the show, and if you’re under the age of 40, you might not care about Connick, either. (Remember when he was a judge on American Idol in 2014 and no one knew who he was?) But the music is so good, and the show so dazzling, and Connick so handsome, that it’s worth getting swept away by his crooning. Connick performs each piece with careful elegance, and he spends a considerable amount of time engaging those who know nothing about American standards — let alone a 1920s songwriting legend. 

Mid-show surprises are thoughtfully placed. Whether it be the appearance of too many pianos on stage to count, or a sensual costume change garnering oohs from the crowd, each moment adds to the magic of the show. It would’ve only been heightened by some backup singers, or just one more dancer. The lack of both leaves a lot resting on Connick’s shoulders performance-wise, but the orchestra — particularly Arthur Latin on drums and Mark Braud on trumpet — comes alive with precision and personality that perfectly matches the lead singer’s.

Traveling back in time is easy for Connick. His timeless voice sails across the room in the opening number, “Anything Goes,” and he is especially captivating in “Why Can’t You Behave.” Because there’s no template of what to expect, the start of the show hits a bit of a lag — but then Connick travels, to New Orleans, to a nondescript hotel room, and to a fictional Porter’s couch. At some point, he stops to explain the differences between “orchestrating” and “arranging” or highlight the tiny difference that a cup mute can make on a trumpet. Jazz lovers will recognize, and newcomers are thoughtfully led into the world of Porter.

Setlist

“Anything Goes”
“You Do Something to Me”
“Just One of Those Things”
“True Love”
“Take Her to the Mardi Gras”
“I Love Paris”
“Why Can’t You Behave”
“Love for Sale”
“In the Still of the Night”
“All of You”
“Night and Day”
“Begin the Beguine”
“Mind If I Make Love to You”
“It’s Alright With Me”
“Bows” (“Anything Goes” reprise)
“So in Love”

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