You know the saying, “Behind every great man is a great woman?” Linda Lee Thomas, the driving force behind legendary songwriter Cole Porter, is the blueprint. Uncover the story of how this Southern beauty inspired the musician’s timeless songs when you buy tickets to “Love, Linda” at the Virginia Samford Theatre (VST) September 17-27.
The songs you know, but what about the inspiration behind them?
The roaring twenties—a period of fringe fashion risks, prohibition and some of America’s most famous authors, musicians and artists. Linda Lee Thomas probably doesn’t ring a bell, but Cole Porter does.
You’ve heard his songs such as “Night and Day”, “I Love Paris,” “In the Still of the Night” and “Love for Sale.” His wife, Linda Porter, inspired the music we still listen to today and songs that have been covered by musicians such as The Beatles and Ella Fitzgerald.
“She was pretty much the inspiration behind Cole Porter’s music. He was a very gifted pianist and composer, but she was very worldly and well-traveled and exposed him to a culture that probably he would never have had without her. I think she was a constant collaborator in a way that she helped inspire him very much and gave him more and more opportunities to write about.”Jan Hunter who stars as Linda Lee Thomas in “Love, Linda“
Though Cole Porter was gay, his and Linda’s profound friendship and love for each other lasted through 35 years of marriage. “Love, Linda” features Cole Porter’s music, but the one-woman show sets the spotlight on Linda Porter and her intense, sometimes dark, relationship with the famed composer.
- What: Love, Linda
- Where: Virginia Samford Theatre, 1116 26th St S, Birmingham, AL 35205
- When: September 17-27. Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30PM, Sundays at 2:30PM
- Tickets, $25 General Admission Social Distance Seating
Jan Hunter stars as Linda Porter in the one-woman production
Although Jan and Cole’s glamour-filled relationship took off when they married in 1919, “Love, Linda” focuses less on the time period and more on the memory of who Linda Lee Thomas was.
“The show is really timeless. ‘Love, Linda’ is more of her memory. This is not an iconic role, she was really more of an understated quiet person. She was the wind beneath his wings.”Jan Hunter
As a divorcee from an abusive husband, Linda was able to keep her social status as the new wife of an acclaimed American composer while offering Cole a spontaneous and exciting life.
Linda as a historical figure may not be what you’d consider “iconic,” but the part itself is daunting to Jan. Even though she has a huge stage presence, Jan has never performed a one-woman show before. Although, she’s not completely alone—the team at the Virginia Samford Theatre is right in step with the actress as she takes on this role.
“This is my first chance to get the joy of working with Henry Scott. He’s extremely nurturing and comforting. Henry helps everyone he works with approach things with a different eye and a relaxed view so that you can bring joy to the viewers.”Jan Hunter
Even classics come with a twist
With innovative arrangements by Gary William Friedman, Cole Porter’s enduring lyrics weave through the compelling narrative, celebrating Linda and Cole’s deeply shared love.
“The arrangements are going to be so impressive to people. For example, there’s a song called “Love for Sale” and everybody has heard it before, but not this way—it’s so cool.Michael King, musical director for “Love Linda” at the Virginia Samford Theatre
Another favorite from director Henry Scott is “Wunderbar”— a song written by Cole Porter for the musical “Kiss me Kate.” Traditionally a waltz, “Wunderbar” is beautifully slowed down in the show. Ready to hear more? Buy tickets for “Love, Linda” September 17-27.
Safety first, stardom second
We can’t wait to walk back into the theatre, feel the buzz of a show before the curtain opens and skim over our (now digital!) playbill as we situate in our seats. While that sensation isn’t going anywhere, the staff at the Virginia Samford Theatre is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of their patrons.
- Masks required at all times for patrons.
- Temperature checks will be done at the door.
- Hand sanitizer is readily available.
- Limited ticket sales for each performance will allow patrons to socially distance themselves in the theater. The theater normally holds 320, but they will only sell 120 tickets per show.
- Every other row is blocked off to increase space between patrons.
- There is a bar, but all drinks will have closed containers.
- The VST has been professionally cleaned and sanitized throughout.
- All playbills will be digital and accessed from your phone.
“We want the audience to come in and just be so glad that they are here. That’s the goal—to send people out of here with a smile on their faces and know that they felt safe and secure while enjoying an hour and ten minutes of entertainment.”Jan Hunter
We’ll see you there, masked and ready for a stellar performance! Tickets to “Love, Linda” are available at virginiasamfordtheatre.org or by calling the box office at 205-251-1206.