John and O don’t always perform semi-staged fully-voiced musicals badly at their BBC Proms appearances at the Royal Albert Hall—their 2012 My Fair Lady was pretty much all right, no shenanigans there (pronounced The Guardian, “John Wilson’s adapted score—which borrows from Andre Previn’s movie arrangement—adds a sparkle to even the most drearily expository songs: the flutes somehow sound cheekier, the brass ruder, the strings zingier”). And in fact their 2014 Kiss Me Kate was as it was meant to be: big, sexy and playful. Winsome John even gets a speaking part!
That’s the wonderful Louise Dearman as singer/sexworld adventuress Lois Lane. (Yes I swear to God, that’s the name the writers of this classic 1948 Broadway musical gave her.)
Now, we all know about “Too Darn Hot” with its descriptions of nice normal congress (“I’d like to sup with my baby tonight / Play the pup with my baby tonight”) and “Tom, Dick or Harry” with its lyrics “I’m a maid mad to marry and would take double quick / Any Tom, Dick or Harry, any Tom, Harry or Dick” and the lilting refrain “A-dick-a-dick dick dick, a-dick-a-dick dick dick”…
But did you ever stop to think about the song “Always True to You in My Fashion”? Which was one of my party pieces years and years ago (alternating with “I Cain’t Say No” from Oklahoma). I once gave it some thought and what I worked out is this: Lois isn’t just your ordinary sex supplier—no, she specializes in those extra-special somethings that make a man (well, certain men) happy and willing to pay top dollar for them. Not to mention that in every verse she pretty much announces her rates:
- There’s a madman known as Mac
Who is planning to attack
If his mad attack means a Cadillac, okay!…
- I would never curl my lip
To a dazzling diamond clip
If a clip meant “Let ‘er rip!”
I’d not say nay…
- There’s an oilman known as Tex
Who is keen to give me checks
And his checks I fear
Means that sex is here to stay…
…ending always with the last line, “But I’m always true to you darling in my fashion / Yes I’m always true to you darling in my way.” Which to me is the number-one indication she keeps it hot with her boyfriend because with him it’s, like I said, nice normal congress. You know, vanilla. But with her clients? As you may recall I was in the business, where scenarios abound. (Remember that “Basingstoke” I mentioned above?)
All this to say it amused me to no end to watch Lois size up within two seconds The Conductor, cunningly portrayed by my beloved John Wilson. Because I know exactly what’s going on in her head, in descending order:
- How much do orchestra conductors make, anyway?
- Tell mama what your kinks are.
- Hey, he’s kinda cute. Skinny, but cute.
But don’t blame me, take it up with Cole Porter. Kiss Me, Kate is available in its entirety here.