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LOVE, LINDA at MusicalFare stars Debbie Pappas in a surprisingly clear-eyed yet affectionate tribute to Cole Porter

THE BASICS:  LOVE, LINDA: THE LIFE OF MRS. COLE PORTER is a one-woman musical starring Debbie Pappas backed up by a piano combo led by Theresa Quinn on the mainstage of the MusicalFare Theatre on the Daemen College Campus in Amherst.  Stunning Art Deco set (also Lighting & Sound Design) is by Chris Cavanagh; Costume Design is by Kari Drozd and Hair, Wig and Make-up Design is by Susan Drozd.

LOVE, LINDA runs through Sunday, July 18.  Proof of vaccination will be required for all performances of LOVE, LINDA on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 3:30, (no Saturday evening performances) and Sundays at 2.  Proof of vaccination can include the New York State Excelsior Pass/Vaccination card along with a photo ID.  Seating will be assigned and will be at 76% of capacity.  Audience members who are not fully vaccinated are invited on Thursday, July 15 only with a performance at 7:00 p.m.    General Admission costs $49. Ticket reservations at 716-839-8540 or online at  Runtime: 65 minutes without intermission.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH:  (adapted from the MusicalFare website) “In this one-woman musical Debbie Pappas plays Linda Lee Thomas (Mrs. Cole Porter), candidly recounting, through song and story, her life’s journey with Cole Porter. Though Porter was gay, their companionship and love lasted through 35 years of marriage and a spectacular, glamour-filled life. Featuring the music and lyrics of Cole Porter woven through narrative, LOVE, LINDA celebrates the deep love that blossomed through their unconventional relationship.”

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION:  The music, although all from the 1920s and 1930s, doesn’t feel “dated” because it’s presented to illustrate the narrative of how two trust fund babies (Linda inherited more money than Cole) enjoyed a champagne and caviar existence surrounded by artists and famous people from all walks of life.  From New York City, to Paris and The Riviera, to Hollywood, it was a life surrounded by “beautiful people.”  For the most part, we learn, when those beauties were men with whom Cole had affairs, this was all part of the agreement, but not always.  There was one Russian dancer who, while under the sheets with Cole, was getting under Linda’s skin.  As I indicated in the headline, it is both clear-eyed and affectionate.

All of the songs are by Cole Porter who, along with the likes of Irving Berlin, loaded up “The American Songbook” with catchy tunes in a variety of genres from blues and torch songs to pop and dance songs (including the beguine!)  Titles which might be the best well known to this day include: “I Love Paris,” “Miss Otis Regrets,” “In the Still of the Night,” “Let’s Do It” (the one about the birds and the bees and the educated fleas), “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” and “Night and Day” along with eleven others.  And Cole Porter’s musicals, primarily ANYTHING GOES and KISS ME, KATE have never gone out of repertory, not even to this day.

Debbie Pappas is one experienced actress and chanteuse and inhabits the character of Linda Lee without a trace of theatrical artifice.

Debbie Pappas is one experienced actress and chanteuse and inhabits the character of Linda Lee without a trace of theatrical artifice.  One tiny telling moment: She is so convincing that when she appears to drink whiskey on stage, even though I knew that it was stage whiskey (watery tea), I still had to ask her after the show.  Of course it was tea, but she made it look so good!  (The ice bucket, by the way, held real ice.  Nice touch!)  The way that Pappas moves around the set, sits, stands, and talks just dripped with Hollywood glamour.  It could only have been better if somehow they had the technology to put this show on in black and white, like those Hollywood movies we still watch on TCM, where everyone calls everyone else “dah-ling.”

UP NEXT: CAMELOT by Lerner and Loewe on the MusicalFare mainstage September 15 to October 17, 2021.  Said to be the favorite Broadway musical of President John F. Kennedy, it is described as follows: “an idealistic young King Arthur hopes to create, “for one brief shining moment,” a kingdom built on honor and dignity.  But problems arise and the fate of the kingdom hangs in the balance.    A story and production for our times.”

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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