APPLAUSE! Musicals in Concert

Fifty Million Frenchmen by Cole Porter

Dates and Venue 13 – 16 February 2008 @ 8pm | Shadbolt Centre Music Directed by Joey Minshall and Directed by Scott Ashton Swan

Reviewer Ed Farolan

This musical about American tourists who escaped to Paris in the 1920s because of the Prohibition inspired Cole Porter to write this musical. The title was inspired by a 1929 song written by Rose, Raskin & Fisher entitled "Fifty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong," and originally performed by Sophie Tucker.

Artistic Director Scott Ashton Swan, in his introduction to the performance, announced that this musical is a Canadian premiere. It was originally produced on Broadway in 1929 and then practically forgotten until, in the 90s, parts of the score and script were found and pieced together for a concert production in New York.

Ashton's version is an adaptation of that concert which originally included around 35 songs. In his adaptation, he took only 21 songs from the original score. Hit songs include "You Do Something to Me," "You've Got That Thing," "Find Me a Primitive Man," "Let's Step Out," and "I'm in Love!". I didn't even know, until I saw this show, that the ever popular "You Do Something to Me" was part of the repertoire of songs from this little known musical.

As always, I enjoy the productions of this group. I'm always amazed at the talent of these singers. Melissa Bachert and Geoff Campbell gave a wonderful rendition of "You Do Something to Me," and I was delighted by the energy of Randy McCormick, particularly in Act II as he interacted with the audience singing "Somebody's Going to Throw A Big Party & It Isn't Done" accompanied by the chorus of waiters. I also enjoyed Tamara Croft's "Find Me a Primitive Man," with Male Ensemble mimicking cavemen in the background.

The audience was also delighted with Mandana Namazi's performance, particularly her two songs "Where Would You Get Your Coat?" and the humorous "The Tale of the Oyster". I was impressed by Ivan Tse's "I Worship You" as he wooed Violet. Cathy Wilmot's "Please Don't Make Me Be Good" was naughty, as she came down from the balcony and tried to seduce an elderly gentleman in the front row.

Mary Williams Marter's "The Queen of Terre Haute" was a delightful piece which drew laughs from the audience, and Tamara Croft's "I'm Unlucky at Gambling" was full of energy. The rest of the Ensemble sang in harmony and I felt that this group enjoyed working with each other on this musical. The last song and curtain call of the Company, "Paree, What Did You Do To Me?" was accompanied by clapping hands from the audience.

Congratulations to Director Scott Ashton Swan, Music Director Joey Minshall, Richard Coombes (piano accompaniment) and the creative lighting design by Sean Malmas.

© 2008 Ed Farolan