Cole Porter’s High Society

By Kaylin Metchie
Photo by David Cooper

High Society is an exhilarating performance from start to finish. The acting is crisp, the singing flawless, the live band terrific, the choreography entrancing, and the play itself is romantic, lively and humourous. Cole Porter deserves his place amongst other composers whose works have found their way into the Great American Songbook. High Society consists of some of the finest scores one can hear in any musical.

This musical is a romantic comedy following wealthy socialite Tracy Lord (Jennifer Lines) as she plans yet another wedding to social climber George Kittredge (Steve Maddock). But, like in most romantic comedies, things do not go smoothly. Just days before her big event, Tracy’s ex-husband, smooth talker Dexter Haven (Todd Talbot), arrives back in town.

The plot is uncomplicated, but this is not theatre meant to challenge you on an intellectual level. It’s simply a great time that you can take your partner to and come out of feeling giddy and romantic.

What sets this musical apart from others is the music. There’s a reason why Cole Porter’s tunes have lasted into the 21st century, and why so many artists continue to sample his work — and it helps that the cast and band do it justice. These are some of Vancouver’s finest performers and all the singers stand their ground in these well-known pieces.

Some of the greatest musical moments of the night come from Lauren Bowler, who plays the quick-witted photographer Liz Imbrie. She effortlessly sings throughout her range, and the warmth in her voice fills the room. Maddock, regarded as one of Canada’s best jazz vocalists, is another standout. It’s unfortunate that he only gets one solo song — you could listen to his silky smooth voice all night long.

The acting is a delight. Lines is superb in all that she does, and along with the rest of the cast, she brings you on a light and exciting journey.

High Society is a great play for the summer. It’s fun and loose and downright enjoyable. It’s like watching reality TV, except better, and with singing. You will leave wanting to “misbehave” with a bottle of champagne.