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Cole Porter tunes grace new ‘Roman Holiday’

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Stephanie Styles plays the princess in the new “Roman Holiday–The Cole Porter Musical,” in its pre-Broadway run in The City. (Courtesy Nathan Johnson)
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“Roman Holiday,” the eternal love story set in the Eternal City, is in San Francisco — as a musical.

Based on the 1953 movie classic starring Audrey Hepburn (who won an Oscar) and Gregory Peck, “Roman Holiday–The Cole Porter Musical” pairs fresh talent with songs (including “Night and Day” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”) by the great musical theater composer.

The show is in a pre-Broadway premiere at the Golden Gate Theatre through June 18, before it heads to New York in the fall.

San Francisco is the perfect place to start because of its discerning audience, says producer and co-writer Paul Blake.

“They’re a very intelligent theater-going audience. They want to be a part of the process,” Blake says.
Blake calls the film “every woman’s favorite movie.” Although that may be a bit of a stretch, the movie has plenty of devoted fans.

“It’s a Cinderella story in reverse, and Cinderella stories make great musicals,” says Blake, interviewed recently with fellow producer Mike Bosner.

“Roman Holiday” tells the story of a broke American journalist who gives up a big story to protect the love of his life — a young princess duty-bound to her country and its people. That the story is set in the magical Italian city makes it all the more compelling.

“Rome is one of the characters in the movie,” Bosner says. “What Paul has created is a valentine to the golden age of musical theater.”
Blake says the story is especially relevant now because it addresses the importance of loyalty and trust.

“It’s wonderful in this day and age to see a story about people who have values and who live by their values … they will not take the easy way out,” he says.

The musical’s stars include Stephanie Styles, making her Broadway debut in the role of Princess Anne.

Other cast members include Drew Gehling as the reporter, along with Jarrod Spector, and Sara Chase. Mark Bruni, who directed the musical “Beautiful-The Carole King Musical,” directs.

Blake and Bosner will take what they learn from San Francisco audiences to reshape or tinker with the production if necessary.
“It’s great right now,” says Blake. “We’ll learn to make it greater.”

IF YOU GO
Roman Holiday–The Cole Porter Musical
Where: SHN Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; closes June 18
Tickets: $55 to $225
Contact: (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com

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