Love, Linda: The Life of Mrs. Cole Porter (US/UK) is coming to Broadway on Demand! The one-woman musical, recorded live, will premiere on the streaming platform on June 9, 2021. (For details, click here!) To celebrate the launch of this romantic jazz tuner, we spoke to writer/star Stevie Holland, writer/composer/arranger Gary William Friedman and director Richard Maltby, Jr.
Tell us about Love, Linda. How would you describe the show?
Stevie Holland: Love, Linda is a one-woman musical about Linda Lee Thomas, the Southern beauty was the wife of the legendary songwriter Cole Porter. At its heart, the show is the genuine love story of a woman married to a gay man – told largely through the songs Cole Porter wrote. As such it is also a theatrical love letter to Cole Porter.
How did Love, Linda come to be?
SH: Though I had been writing lyrics and theatrical projects, after many years recording and performing as a jazz vocalist, I was eager to return to my theater roots as a performer. So, Gary and I started brainstorming about creating a one-woman musical. At that time, we knew nothing about Linda Porter.
Which came first, the Cole Porter songs or the story of Linda Lee Thomas, and who first encountered/discovered her story?
Gary William Friedman: An old acquaintance of mine mentioned that he’d created a revue based on a woman in psychotherapy who sings Cole Porter songs. That got Stevie to research Cole Porter’s life, and the interest in Linda arose from that. We realized there was a potentially great story in the telling of Cole and Linda’s marriage.
How did you work together as a team?
SH: Gary and I had a well-established working relationship. I initially sketched out Linda’s life and worked on creating her voice. It was important to define her motives and intentions with this show – the overriding one being her desire to set the record straight about her relationship with Cole. With each draft, Gary helped me to shape and edit the book.
Who was Linda Lee Thomas? What do you find most compelling about her story?
SH: She was pawned off by her family to an extremely brutal first marriage. After several years of abuse, both mental and physical, she landed a lucrative divorce settlement. She regained her footing and fell in love with Cole Porter, a much younger gay man. She found her purpose by nurturing his great talent into the world. There is no doubt that Linda was instrumental in the world’s discovery of Cole Porter’s talent.
The show presents the relationship between Linda and Cole in all its complexity. How would you describe their marriage? What kept them together?
SH: That’s what the show’s about!