Jim Drake’s Entertainment Blog: Cole Porter songs celebrated April 21 at Civic benefit

Local singers Linda Beiter, Jason Smith (of JD Smith Jewelers) and Mary Lewis will be joining forces with pianist Garry Estep for an evening of songs from the celebrated songbook of Cole Porter on April 21.

The event will benefit The Dalles Civic Auditorium.

“All three of us worked with Garry when he directed The Dalles Theater Company’s production of ‘Quintessential Rodgers & Hammerstein’ a few years ago,” Beiter said.

When asked why she decided to sing for a Cole Porter tribute, there was no hesitation in her reply:

“Cole Porter is just fun. We’re going to sing those iconic songs — from his early work to all the way through the 1950s.

“We even have some not so familiar songs to sing, which are still good, like ‘Love for Sale,’” Beiter said.

Concert goers can expect each singer to perform solo and duet numbers, plus as a trio — with piano solos opening and closing the show.

Estep chose most of the songs for the show, and many have the classic tongue-in-cheek lyrical content that appeals to Porter fans.

Estep, originally from the east coast, has spent many years in the music business and he keeps his piano skills in shape by performing concerts like these and working with The Dalles Theater Company from time to time. He also enjoys playing many of the church pipe organs found in The Dalles.

“A good, accomplished pianist like Garry can make a singer sound a lot better,” Beiter said.

Beiter said the group is looking forward to playing in the remodeled civic theater. She’s even having a custom dress made for the occasion.

“We’re going for the whole Speakeasy theme for the night, so it would be terrific if the audience dressed the part. We like to celebrate the 1920s — that’s when the Civic was originally commissioned.” Porter wrote songs that have been sung by a who’s who list of performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Bette Midler, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Micheal Buble.

“The fun and the joy that Cole Porter brought to the world is evidence that he was passionate about his music,” Beiter said.

“We forget that he wrote the song ‘Don’t Fence Me In,’ one of the greatest cowboy songs of all time.

“You just don’t think it could have been written by someone who was integral to the New York and Paris music scene, but it was,” Beiter said.

The show takes place on Saturday, April 21 from 6:30-9 p.m., and is recommended for adults 18 years old and older. Tickets are $30 at Klindt’s Booksellers, The Dalles Civic Center and online at TheDallesCivic.org.

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