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10 Cole Porter Love Songs to Celebrate the Valentine’s Day Debut of ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


Brush up your Cole Porter with this de-lovely playlist

With Kiss Me, Kate! poised to return to the Broadway stage this spring in a revival by the Roundabout Theatre Company, we think it is perfect that this romantic comedy begins previews on Valentine’s Day. In celebration of the show’s return, especially given the fact that with it will commence at the point of Cupid’s bow, we thought it would be timely to take a look at some of the terrific love songs written by the show’s composer Cole Porter throughout his prodigious career. Here are ten we think you will love.

The Roundabout revival of the Cole Porter classic ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’ begins previews on Feb. 14 (Photo: Roundabout Theatre Company)

The Roundabout revival of the Cole Porter classic ‘Kiss Me, Kate!’ begins previews on Feb. 14 (Photo: Roundabout Theatre Company)

“It’s De-Lovely” from Red Hot and Blue

Considering the amount of talent cast in the original production of Cole Porter’s Red Hot and Blue (Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante), the musical was not as big a hit as it aspired to be. What it did produce was one of Porter’s most enduring songs, the peppy and romantic “It’s De-Lovely,” introduced by Merman and Hope. The song has enjoyed a long life and is sometimes interpolated into productions of Anything Goes and pretty much any musical revue that celebrates Porter.

“Begin the Beguine” from Jubilee

The 1935 musical comedy Jubilee follows the story of a royal family of a fictional country. When it looks like the citizens are on the verge of revolution, the royals abandon their posts and go off in pursuit of their dreams. Shunning their royal obligations, they soon find a whole world that they didn’t even know existed. Jubilee is perhaps best remembered for the debut of the songbook standard “Begin the Beguine,” where it was introduced by actress June Knight. The bluesy number is a recollection of love past as brought on by the music of the beguine.

“I Get a Kick Out of You” from Anything Goes

Anything Goes is one of Cole Porter’s most-enduring musicals, having enjoyed two Broadway revivals since it first debuted in 1934. One of the characters in the show is evangelist-turned-nightclub-singer Reno Sweeney, a role originated by the late, great Ethel Merman. Her first big number in the show is the torch song “I Get A Kick Out Of You,” where she reveals her feelings toward the Wall Street broker Billy Crocker. He doesn’t, however, reciprocate. The song is one of Porter’s most-recorded numbers, with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald covering it. 

“Love for Sale” from The New Yorkers

For a more salacious side to Cole Porter’s talents, one can always revel in “Love For Sale” from the 1930 musical The New Yorkers. The song is written from the point of view of a prostitute advertising her wares. Though mostly innocuous by today’s standards, the sultry number received a lot of backlash in its day, with radio stations avoiding it and singers refusing to perform it. One newspaper said it was in “bad taste.” Still, it exhibits Porter’s witty lyric writing at its best: “Love that’s fresh and still unspoiled. Love that’s only slightly soiled.” You be the judge.

“C’est Magnifique” from Can-Can

“Ooh-la-la-la,” this Cole Porter song from the 1953 musical Can-Can is all about the whirlwind that love takes us on. Translating as “It’s Magnificent,” the song is introduced in the show by the character of La Mome Pistache (played by French actress Lilo) who runs a dance hall in the Monmartre district of Paris, the haven for the scandalous, high-kicking Can-Can that has the conservative politicians in an uproar during 1880s. She finds herself falling in love with one of the men who have come to shut her down.

“Let’s Do It” from Paris

Cole Porter’s 1928 musical Paris was the first big hit of his career, thanks largely to the popularity of the song “Let’s Do It.” We’ve all heard it somewhere, the lyrical list song that goes “Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s fall in love.” Paris tells the story of a wealthy Massachusetts man who falls in love with a French stage actress, only to have his mother do whatever she can to squash the budding romance.

“What is This Thing Called Love?” from Wake Up and Dream

Hot on the heels of Paris, Cole Porter wrote the score for the musical revue Wake Up and Dream, which first played London before traversing the pond and opening on Broadway in December of 1929. One of the revue’s highlights was “What is This Thing Called Love?,” a humorous ditty that featured one woman (Tilly Losch) dancing in front of an African Idol to the beat of a tom-tom drum while another woman (Elsie Carlisle) sang it in a torchy style. 

“All Through the Night” from Anything Goes

It is hard to settle on just one romantic ditty from Anything Goes, so why should we? The hypnotic “All Through the Night” is the perfect love song for a budding shipboard romance. On the SS American, stowaway Billy Crocker falls hard for the heiress Hope Harcourt. They have a chance encounter on the first night of their voyage, admitting their “love at first sight” as they stare out over the Atlantic Ocean. 

“Mind If I Make Love to You?” from High Society

Cole Porter didn’t just write for Broadway – he also spent some time composing in Hollywood. His score for the film musical High Society is one of his finest. In the film, Frank Sinatra sings a lovely love song to Grace Kelly called “Mind If I Make Love to You?” High Society, which is based on the film The Philadelphia Story, was eventually adapted for the Broadway stage in 1998, but sadly, this subtle and enchanting number wasn’t included in the score. 

“So In Love” from Kiss Me, Kate!

William Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew, is about the tumultuous courtship between a cocky suitor and a tempestuous woman who hates men. The musical Kiss Me, Kate! puts an interesting spin on the story when an ex-husband-and-wife duo are cast as the leads in a musical version of the Bard’s play. They hate each other, but as the show progresses, they remember a time where they were in love, as is reflected in the lush and romantic “So In Love.” 

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia, and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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