- Dates: 28th – 29th June 2002
- Venue: Gala Theatre
- Director: Fred Wharton
- Musical Director: George Hetherington
- Choreographer: Janet Dixon
Charting the rise of Cole Porter through the ’20s, the glittering ’30s and ’40s, the story of his life interweaves with a dazzling array of his most famous songs, including: “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Anything Goes”, “From this Moment On”, “I Love Paris”, “Blow Gabriel, Blow”, “Begin the Beguine”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “Night and Day”, “In the Still of the Night”, “Friendship”, “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”, “Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love”, “It’s Delovely”, “You’re the Top”, “Another Op’nin, Another Show”, “True Love” and many more.
“What a Swell Party” is a tribute to a musical and lyrical talent which even now remains unsurpassed.
Anne-Marie Ashman, Alan Ball, Ruth Ball, Alison Banks, Caroline Banks, Denise Beckford, Sophie Begg, Katy Bell, Jackie Billinge, Helen Blake, Rosemary Cleasby, Doreen Cothay, Sheila Cottle, Harry Dallard, Anthony Dixon, Janet Dixon, Mike Dixon, Rebecca Dixon, Christine Dobbie, Anouska Drion, Veronica Elleson, Allison Feasey, Rob Gair, Karen Gallagher, Carol Gardner, Jonathan Gilderoy, Eileen Glenton, Mary Gordon, Margaret Graham, Chris Grief, Bill Harland, Helen Harries, Tony Harries, Mollie Hughes, Darren James, Ron Kemp, June Lavin, Catherine Lawes, Heather McLoughlin, Delia McNally, Glen Moore, David O’Donnell, Sue Robinson, Ellen Russell, Andrea Scott, Laurence Scott, Anthony Smith, Eunice Sneddon, Genni Steele, Daniella Stickenbruck, Sëbastien Tardiff, Lisa Thorner, Deirdre Tyrrell, Ann Underwood, Graeme Walton, Katy Watson, Caroline Wheeler
- Set Construction and Stage Management – David Foxall, Mike Dixon
- Deputy Stage Manager – David Wright
- Properties – Denise Brooksbank & Team
- Wardrobe – Jean Graham, Jane Flowers, Judith Frisby
- Lighting Design – David Wright
- Make-Up – Brenda Mullen & Team
- Prompt – Jo Smart
- Rehearsal Pianist – Robert Humes
- Front of House – David Foxall, Frank Cure, Mary Robinson, Margaret Sutton, Pam Drion, Claire Wright, Christine Slane, Lawrence Jones, Joyce Allinson, Harry Cottle
- Refreshments – Val Cure, Joan Foxall
Ian Wells – Northern NODA News – August 2002
This compilation of Cole Porter songs, with biographical details interspersed, was written and devised by George Hetherington and Fred Wharton, and what a delightful evening it made.
Many of the numbers were familiar to ‘amateurs’ (think scores like “Anything Goes”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Can-Can” and “High Society”) but many from earlier shows were not. They ranged from ballads to up-tempo, to comedy numbers, all presented with style and panache.
The staging was simple, yet elegant, and the device of having Cole’s mother, wife, and a barman (Audrey Robson, Valenda Taylor and Olly Burton) narrate the story of his life very telling without ever feeling heavy. George’s trio accompaniment adapted its style from cocktail to raunchy with deceptive ease, and the lighting created the appropriate mood.
The company of sixty, led by Delia McNally, Carol Gardner, Lisa Thorner (who was outstanding in “Love For Sale”), Anthony Smith, Glen Moore, Ron Kemp, Laurence Scott, and Graeme Walton, performed the forty three numbers faultlessly.
All are to be congratulated, especially the ‘Andrews Sisters’ with “Don’t Fence Me In” —yes, Cole Porter wrote that! Every one in the cast, from the ‘Golden Girls’ to the ‘stars of tomorrow’ seemed to be having a ball, and so did the audience.