The Passing of John McGlinn
At Kenyon College in 1954, I attended a party at the Alpha Delt's fraternity lounge, where a bunch of guys and their dates watched "The Colgate Comedy Hour" television version of Cole Porter’s "Anything Goes" starring Ethel Merman, Frank Sinatra and Bert Lahr. Of course it was in black-and-white and live—everything was in those days. Merman—who played Reno Sweeny in the original 1934 production—blasting out “Blow, Gabriel, Blow,” and “You’re the Top” is etched in memory, as is “I Get a Kick Out of You” and the title song with its catchy melody and dizzyingly brilliant Porter lyrics.
Fast-forward 38 years. My wife, Peggy, and I sold our cranky little newsletter about junk mail and moved to Philadelphia to take over Target Marketing magazine. To celebrate no more hassles of running our own business, and coming away with a wee bit of money, we splurged and bought ourselves an upmarket, high-tech, bookshelf-sized CD/AM/FM/Cassette player by Bang & Olufsen.
The very first CD I bought to try out this grand new rig was a recent recording of the original version of "Anything Goes," conceived and reorchestrated by the brilliantly talented young John McGlinn. He also did the casting, musical direction and conducting. McGlinn’s passion was sleuthing down old musicals and reviving them as they originally sounded.
It's a stunning CD that includes a 144-page book of the show—the history, portraits of the writers, a biography of Cole Porter, the original Playbill program, complete lyrics and much more, including commentary in French and German.
All his life—right up to his penultimate show, "Out of This World"—the naughty Cole Porter ran afoul of the censors. For example, you can bet the full lyrics of "Anything Goes" were not included in the sanitized "Colgate Comedy Hour" production back in 1954: