Maureen McVerry sings Cole Porter tunes in Petaluma Cinnabar's ‘Love, Linda'
In 1919, when Linda Lee Thomas, a rich socialite divorcee from Louisville, Kentucky, married famed songwriter and composer Cole Porter, eight years her junior, she knew he was gay, but the world at large did not.
“It was a different time,” said Maureen McVerry, who plays Linda Porter in the one-woman show “Love, Linda,” opening Dec. 14 at the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma.
Disclosure of his private life in that era probably would have ruined the career of one of America’s greatest lyricists. But there was more to their 35-year marriage than just a way to project a socially acceptable image.
“She was very important to him,” McVerry said. “They had a loving relationship. She was wealthy, truly in the one percent, and she made Cole Porter much more than a boy from Peru, Indiana, who wrote songs. Many have credited her support for getting him where he was.”
In return, Linda Porter had the chance mingle with the likes of playwright and director Moss Hart, actor Monty Woolley of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” and playwright, composer, director, singer and actor Noel Coward.
“She spent her time with the greatest theater legends of all time,” McVerry explained. “That was the life she got to live because she was with him.”
“Love, Linda” - created by jazz singer Stevie Holland, who originally starred in the show, and composer Gary William Friedman - made its off-Broadway debut at the York Theatre in New York in 2013.
In addition to telling the story of Linda Porter, the show features 17 Cole Porter hits, including “Night and Day,” “I Love Paris,” “In the Still of the Night” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”
The Cinnabar production features stage direction by Clark Sterling and musical direction Cesar Cancino.
For the Petaluma run of the show, Diane Dragone, Cinnabar Theater’s executive director, recruited McVerry to star.
“I know her from previous work in San Francisco and the Peninsula.,” Dragone said.
McVerry has extensive theater credits throughout the Bay Area and well beyond, including performances in Los Angeles, Boston and Dallas.
McVerry also has been performing her own cabaret show, ‘“Verry McVerry,” in the Bay Area for the past 25 years, so naturally, she’s no stranger to Cole Porter tunes.
“If you do a cabaret show,” she declared, “you’ve got to do a Cole Porter song.”
You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or email@example.com.
Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat
Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.