Review: Love, Linda (Broadway HD, online)

Stevie Holland brings Linda Lee Thomas (1919-1954), the wife of Cole Porter, back to the stage in this one-woman musical play. Holland is responsible for the book of this show, with music and lyrics by Porter and arrangements by Gary William Friedman (who is married to Holland).

After success off-Broadway, this show was streamed for a limited time last June for Porter’s birthday, but is now available to rent on BroadwayHD.

Part biography of a socialite who became “Mrs Cole Porter” and part musical revue, Love, Linda is a chatty, frank and open piece. The Porters enjoyed a marriage of companionship and understanding, without pretense or artifice. As presented through Holland’s eyes, Linda was fascinated by this musician, her “perfect match”.

A variety of songs, both well-known and obscure, are performed in Holland’s jazz style, all smoky club and cabaret. They feed into the story which we may feel we know (not from the classic film biopic Night and Day, perhaps, but maybe from De-Lovely) through the 68 minute runtime.

Screenshot from Love,Linda

The story of Linda and Cole Porter is one of a partnership which cannot easily be defined with one label, as we move from their first meeting to his decline; as Linda sings and Cole wrote, “What Is This Thing Called Love?” Holland makes Linda a friendly character to spend time with, one who found love on her own terms, whatever society and history might think.

Holland’s intimate singing style gives the music some continuity, assisted by the band accompanying her (MD/piano Deniz Cordell; bass Danny Weller, drums Alex Wyatt). The set, lighting and sound design (James Morgan and Josh Iacovelli, Dennis Parichy, and Adam Bernier respectively) gives a sense of both an upmarket house of the period and a comfy cabaret.

Perhaps best enjoyed by Porter fans or at least those with an interest in musical theatre, Love, Linda was directed for the stage by Richard Maltby Jr. This digital version was photographed by Robert Learner and edited by Colin Elliott, and is now available on BroadwayHD, or you can buy a Blu-Ray of the show through