Cole for the Holidays

Tributes to Cole Porter are not particularly hard to find. Folks from Kiri Te Kanawa to Ella Fitzgerald have done Porter; his work even has cachet in the modern pop world -- witness the 1990 Red, Hot, & Blue album of rock artists singing Cole to raise funds for AIDS research. Porter's work -- his heyday ran from the '20s to the '40s -- has a timeless quality: In songs like "Let's Do It" and "Anything Goes" his witty, sexy wordplay and sultry melodies achieve a sophistication and class that very few others -- including Noel Coward and the Gershwins -- even attempted.

For 20 years, director Joseph Lillis has been doing Cole all over the country. Some Like It Cole! is a straight-ahead revue, with thrushes Livia Genise, Linda McCulloch, and Beth Wilmurt belting out the songs. The show, which is running concurrently in Dallas right now, opens in San Francisco this week. The hook is the modern perspective the three leading ladies bring to Porter's songs. They gleefully dig up an old Porter tune from a 1943 show -- it flopped -- called Mexican Hayride. The song, "Count Your Blessings," basically says, "Life is tough. Get over it." That's the holiday spirit! Bonus: a medley tribute to Ethel Merman, the brassy belter from Anything Goes who immortalized Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You." It's still true: There's no song like a Cole Porter song.

-- Kelly Silbernagel

Some Like It Cole! opens Monday, Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. at the Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $29-34; call 771-6900 for tickets and a complete schedule of performances.

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