A self-confessed gay-history buff, Sydney pianist Heinz Schweers was disappointed by the recent film De-Lovely about queer songwriter Cole Porter. It was, he believed, simply not gay enough.
I felt it really wasn’t the whole picture of Cole’s life, Schweers said. It was a sanitised, white-washed, dry-cleaned version.
The Mardi Gras musical event Noel And Cole: Lives In Exile, is Schweers’s attempt to try to show what things were really like for Porter and his friend Noel Coward when they lived in Paris in the 1920s.
With the help of singer Annette Tesoriero, the show also looks at other famous -“ and infamous -“ Paris residents or exiles such as King Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Porter’s wife Linda, and socialite Elsa Maxwell.
My show looks back at history to see what gay people were doing and at our freedom today, and how it was created and how it started, said Schweers, who worked with Tesoriero last Mardi Gras on Kathleen Ferrier: A Time Of Kings And Queens.
It’s interesting to see what Porter and Coward were doing then. They enjoyed going to beach-side resorts and hanging out with the boys.
They were the forerunners of openly gay society. They did confront those issues in their theatre pieces and songs, but it was much more subtle in those times all those years ago.
While Noel And Cole contains songs by both Porter and Coward, Schweers admitted he’s more of a Porter fan because there’s more to play on the piano.
His favourites are Love For Sale and Begin The Beguine.
For me Mardi Gras is about putting on an event that’s more than a dance party, Schweers said.
It’s about presenting something cultural, and for me it’s important to do something involving song, and piano, and bit of history.
Noel And Cole: Lives In Exile, Thursday 24 February to Saturday 26 February, 8pm, Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre. Bookings: 9351 7940.