Chet Baker: Like Someone In Love

La Mama, Ellen Stewart Theatre, 66 E. 4th St, NYC, USA

28/03/2015 - 29/03/2015

St James Theatre 1st Floor Gallery, Wellington

17/09/2010 - 17/09/2010

Blondini's Bar, Embassy Theatre, Wellington

29/04/2008 - 05/05/2008

Happy (Cnr Tory & Vivian), Wellington

21/02/2007 - 24/02/2007

Fortune Theatre - Hutchinson Studio, Dunedin

06/05/2008 - 10/05/2008

Galatos, Auckland

02/03/2009 - 06/03/2009

Dunedin Fringe 2006-9

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

New Zealand Performance Festival New York

Production Details

Devised and performed by David Goldthorpe
with director David Lawrence

The James Dean of Jazz

Like Someone in Love is a thrilling combination of beautifully melodic music, raw dialogue and insight into the heart of jazz legend Chet Baker.

For five days only, from the March 2nd  to March 6th, Galatos will come alive with the unforgettable music and intriguing story of Jazz Legend, Chet Baker. Like Someone in Love is a new musical play written and performed by David Goldthorpe and accompanied by a live three piece Jazz band.

Known as the ‘James Dean of Jazz’ for his good looks and bad boy reputation, legendary Jazz musician Chet Baker had an extraordinary talent both with his trumpet and his spare and captivating vocal style. But his life off-stage was the antithesis to his cool and subdued stage presence as he grappled with drug related jail time, failed relationships and above all his crippling life- long addiction to drugs.

Through songs and narrative, this play looks at Chet Baker’s life, his success, his weaknesses and ultimately his demise and sudden death. Did he fall from a hotel window in Amsterdam in a drug- induced haze or did he throw himself out when his talent could no longer save him?  Writer and performer David Goldthorpe says “if you don’t know who Chet Baker is, you should.” Like Someone in Love is “a no-holds barred glimpse at who Chet Baker really was. It’s a chance to get closer to the real Chet Baker than you ever would by picking up a book or reading a CD cover.”

Goldthorpe has a self confessed love affair with Chet Baker’s music and style. Like Someone in Love is a love letter to Chet, which has been has been honed and polished by Goldthorpe’s collaborators’ director David Lawrence and musical director Tim Solly.

Like Someone in Love debuted to great critical acclaim at the 2007 New Zealand Fringe Festival, it has also toured to the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin.  This is a must see show – catch it while you can as part of the Auckland Fringe.

“a simple yet classy show that might well mesmerise us with cool jazz if it did not also challenge us with flashes of fact that are hard to ignore.” – John Smythe Theatreveriew

“This is no impersonation of Baker, or a boring chronology of his life, but an exceptionally well researched piece, professionally put together…this is a show for theatre-goers as well as jazz-lovers, and one that deserves a repeat season.” Ewen Coleman Dominion Post 

Auckland Fringe runs from 27 February to 22 March 2009. For more Auckland Fringe information go to

Like Someone in Love

Location: Galatos – 17 Galatos Street Newton, Auckland
Monday 2nd March at 6:30pm
Tuesday 3rd March – Thursday 5th March at 9pm
Friday 6th March at 8pm
Ticketing Information:
Phone: 0508 ITICKET (0508 4842538)
Full Price $25
Concession $18     
For more information see

Chet Baker: Like Someone in Love plays at the St James Theatre First Floor Gallery for one night only on Friday the 17th September 2010. Doors open at 6:30pm, Show starts at 8pm. Book at Ticketek.


Jazz and theatre brought together on stage in the gripping story of a US music legend.

Ellen Stewart Theatre
March 28 2015 at 8pm & 29 at 4pm
115 minutes

More details   

This show contains references to drug use and violence.

Musicians (2007):
Tim Solly - piano
Richard Wise - drums
Mostyn Cole - bass

Lighting design: Marcus McShane

Theatre , Musical ,

1hr 55mins

A most enjoyable occasion

Review by Phoebe Smith 18th Sep 2010

David Goldthorpe’s Chet Baker, Like Someone in Love, in the St James Theatre cabaret series is best described not as a play, nor as a concert, but rather an occasion. 

The first floor gallery is set about with candlelit dinner tables and the doors open an hour and a half early to allow patrons the full wining and dining jazz experience. Red and white full-length curtains effectively contain the space, providing an ideal backdrop to the stage while including the audience in the performance area.

We are lulled and at home as the piece opens with the relaxed musicians taking their places.

Goldthorpe delivers an energetic performance as the beatific Chet Baker the musician believed himself to be. Eager and friendly, Goldthorpe is an affable presence onstage, however, as in his recent role as Charlie Brown at BATS Theatre, he struggles to hit moments of truth in his spoken delivery. This results in an aura of exposition in much of his acting – of course, in a biographical solo show much of it IS exposition, but it does not need to seem so.

Moments when Goldthorpe takes on other characters are refreshing as they offer a change in his pattern of delivery.

Goldthorpe’s voice, however, is superb –and one cannot help but be impressed by an actor who learns to play the trumpet in order to play Chet Baker! Complemented assuredly by musical director Tim Solly on piano, Mostyn Cole on bass and Andy Hoy on drums, he becomes ever more charming as a singer and the audience are indulged without feeling played.

Director David Lawrence makes excellent thematic use of songs to represent and underline happenings or details in this representation of the life of Chet Baker. 

It is inevitable in biography, particularly that staged in a solo show, that elements will be left out and that this will potentially be frustrating to some of the audience. In a script that intends “to present Chet’s life plain and simple, without passing judgment… or censoring the nasty bits” (director’s note), the team has intentionally avoided the mystique of Baker’s death and most of the nastier aspects of his life.

My first impression was to dismiss this collaboration as having little narrative thread, but on further reflection, I realised that the narrative functioned much like a jazz song – a distinctive refrain repeated and quasi-repeated, creating a layered whole that was subtle and surprisingly effective.

A simple set of an unmade bed and a table laden with drug paraphernalia combine well with Marcus McShane’s lighting, which evokes the change between the performative and the expositionary very well. A slight rise in volume on Goldthorpe’s microphone would have benefited the songs, but only by bringing them up from very good.

A most enjoyable occasion. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Mood-catching musical yarn

Review by Nik Smythe 03rd Mar 2009

I arrive to behold a smoky blue set, immortal jazz legend Chet Baker slouched over his trumpet on his stool upstage right,  band stage left, tatty unclothed single bed and coffee table centre stage, for more private moments. 

Not a dry chronology, nor intended as an impersonation as such; although I’m not familiar with Chet Baker the person, the gentle, understated characterisation of David Goldthorpe seems plausible enough, engaging certainly. 

Goldthorpe’s script begins Baker’s story near the end of his life, quickly arriving at his mysterious death before taking us back to where it all began and how his journey played out. In general we are privy to the bleaker, troubled times peppered with passing nods to various highlights… Baker’s glory days are fairly glossed over in favour of the gritty degradation of his human reality, though falling short of any truly disturbing, visceral effect.

It seems we are witnessing the snappy ghost of young Chet, in his own Dorian Gray complex image, speaking to us from beyond the grave. Marcus McShane’s  lighting design, placing a subtle glow on the protagonist’s figure, enhances that impression.

The exemplary backup jazz band are Nick Jones at piano, Russell McNaughton bass and Jono Sawyer on the drums. Have casual-smarts, will travel – as they have to the south and now up to here, from Wellington.

Through sombre strains and swinging rhythms, under Tim Solly’s musical direction and arrangements they are perfect support to Goldthorpe’s sublime horn and angelic vocals – which may be just slightly deeper and a whisper less silky than the real Chet’s, however the sentimental character is spot on.

Director David Lawrence declares they are simply playing with known facts, without passing judgement or delivering any moral opinion.  This allows any questions the freedom to be asked, about for instance the seemingly inevitable link between narcotics and great music, or whether the way a man lived his life ought to influence our appreciation of their art.

The harsh reality of the substance-driven second half of Baker’s life in a way lends more sense to the music, whether or not it needs it.   Like Someone In Love is a not atypical inglorious jazz junkie tale and, when the band plays the iconic reinvented show tunes synonymous with the name of Chet Baker, it’s almost like a fully mounted economy-sized single serving Broadway musical.


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Jazz trumpeter's fame & tragedy draws audience

Review by Barbara Frame 10th Nov 2008

The atmosphere is smoky and the lights are dim and blue. There are musical instruments, including a trumpet, on a cheap-looking bed, and there’s a little table supporting various items that can be injected, ingested or smoked. So it can only be about jazz.

David Goldthorpe "is" Chet Baker, who died, via an Amsterdam window, in 1988. Supposedly 58, he looks no more than half that age, but we come to understand that that’s how Baker perceived himself.

Goldthorpe also has an exceptionally pleasant singing voice, and if the programme hadn’t informed us that he learned to play the trumpet especially for the role of Chet, I would not have guessed.

Baker comes across as a not particularly sympathetic character: a negligent (several times) husband, father and son, given to self-pity rather than introspection, bravado, rather than bravery.

But the story of his rise to fame and his descent into drug-fuelled paranoia, researched and written by Goldthorpe and put together with director David Lawrence, is interesting.

The narration is interspersed with jazz standards such as My Funny Valentine, Look for the Silver Lining and Everything happens to Me.

Goldthorpe’s talent is complemented by Tim Solly on piano, Craig Sinclair on bass, and Paul McLennan-Kissel on drums and the fine music contrasts with the character’s wildness.

The Fortune Studio was packed last night and the audience was particularly appreciative of the short, supernumerary jazz performances when the one-hour play as such was over.

Jazz fans and others have until Saturday to enjoy the production.


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A superb production

Review by Jackson Coe 10th Nov 2008

…At Blondini’s … David Goldthorpe’s solo act about Chet Baker, Like Someone In Love, is seeing a return season after last years Fringe Festival – and deservedly so. With smooth jazz sounds and a crystal chandelier hanging above us, this show does for theatre what velvet does for underpants; and if you haven’t tried velvet underwear, I suggest you do so soon.

In seriousness, the show’s low-key set design was nicely matched by Marcus McShane’s lighting plot, creating a hazy, ambient mood which gave the play a nice, slightly surreal, sensibility, as though we were watching a memory or a ghost.

Goldthorpe looks great on stage, his characterisation is engaging and his trumpet playing and vocals are formidable.

The accompanying band, consisting of Tim Solly, Mostyn Cole and Richard Wise, add a touch of finesse to the finished product which makes for a superb production.

To summarise – Wellington’s theatre sector impresses yet again!


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Beautifully melodic / raw and hard nosed

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Mar 2007

Just when it seemed that the best of this year’s Fringe Festival had been and gone a production emerges that epitomises what so many before have lacked. David Goldthorpe’s solo performance is based on the life and times of legendary jazz musician Chet Baker – Like Someone in Love

Like so many artists born with an innate ability to create music, Baker’s personnel life of sex, booze and drugs was the antithesis of his laid back crooning style of jazz that made him so famous.  It is said that in his later years when he looked like a "walking corpse", Baker would look at himself in the mirror seeing himself as young, beautiful and angelic, which is exactly what David Goldthorpe is (a Dan Carter of the theatre) and which he uses as his starting point for his show.

He then proceeds to take the audience through the highs and lows of Baker’s life, interspersing the dialogue with expertly arranged Baker classics under the musical direction of Tim Solly.  This is no impersonation of Baker or a boring chronology of his life but an exceptionally well researched and written piece, professionally put together by Goldthorpe and director David Lawrence. 

And in contrast to the beautifully melodic music the dialogue is raw and hard nosed. Goldthorpe is not frightened to show the sorrowing pain of Baker’s life that made him as infamous as his music made him famous. This is a show for theatre goers as well as lovers of jazz and one that deserves a repeat season.


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Resonates well beyond itself

Review by John Smythe 24th Feb 2007

That Like Someone In Love is expressed entirely from the subjective viewpoint of its subject, Chet Baker, is both its limitation and its strength. As a bio-play, it leaves lots out – not least, the manner of his death (falling from a hotel window in Amsterdam in 1988, aged 58). As a portrait of self-delusion, however, it demands we engage with our critical faculties intact.

Singer/actor/trumpet player David Goldthorpe and director David Lawrence – backed by a superb jazz trio: Tim Solly (piano), Mostyn Cole (bass), Richard Wise (drums) – have crafted a simple yet classy show that might well mesmerise us with cool jazz if it did not also challenge us with flashes of fact that are hard to ignore.

As soft sounds flow from Goldthorpe’s perpetually young Chet – his jazz trumpet and equally smooth voice, both singing and talking – the blissed-out dimension of drug addiction is clearly evoked. The title song itself is offered as an ode to heroin. ‘She’s Not For Me’, My Sunny Valentine’, ‘The Touch of Your Lips on Mine’ and ‘look For the Silver Lining’ are judiciously placed to punctuate and illuminate the unfolding story.

There are moments of self pity, anger and paranoia but mostly he’s cruising on a plane high above reality. It’s the passing parade of women’s names and the children he ‘fathered’ with them that jolt us into realising his claim – shouted at an arresting officer – that he’s hurting nobody else is deeply deluded. In short, he’s a self-serving arsehole.

What’s missing from this brief trip through subjective experience is the hanging out phase of addiction, and the ruthlessly desperate need to find the money to feed his habit. That he had the talent to do so (playing live gigs in Europe and recording constantly: his discography is vast) without, as far as I know, ripping off friends and colleagues was both his fortune and misfortune (in that such moral imperatives can be a catalyst in motivating addicts to liberate themselves from oppression).

Baker, by this account, never saw himself as the author of his own degradation. His lack of invincibility is well captured in the moment when his trumpet produces no melodic sound, just a rasp of empty air. This could be a metaphor for his death or a hint at what might have motivated his suicide, if that’s what it was.

Which ever way you look at it, Like Someone In Love is well worth tuning into because it resonates well beyond itself.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other reviews, recent comments and forum postings (under Audience Chatter), and news.


Daniel Allan March 3rd, 2007

As an actor and a jazz fan, I was probably always going to enjoy this show. That said, I still have to say how thoroughly impressed I was by David Goldthorpe's writing and method in bringing Chet Baker back to life. My interest tweaked by the play, I headed next day to the Wellington Library to listen to Chet Baker recordings and it was there that my appreciation of the show really took off. The voice, sweet and pure, the muted trumpet aimed softly at the ground, it was all there exactly as I had witnessed it. David Goldthorpe WAS Chet Baker. Well done that man.

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