KISS ME KATE
a review by
Kiss Me Kate was last performed at the Putnam County Playhouse in 1983. Since then the play has been completely revised, and it's better for the changes.
It won the Tony for the best musical in 1948. The composer, native born Cole Porter, also won for best composer and lyricist. Vickie Parker, who directed the original PCPH production, is back again for an encore.
The play is a takeoff of Shakespeare's TheTaming of the Shrew, which bills itself as a Broadway bound hit. There are several scenes from Shrew itself from the play, but Porter's songs really are magnificent. They include "So In Love", "Always True to You in My Fashion". "Wunderbar", and the Broadway anthem "Another Op'ning, Another Show."
The leads are Dan Stockton and Jodi Green Wingler, who are Playhouse veterans. Stockton appeared last season in The Importance of Being Earnest. Wingler has appeared in musicals such as Cinderella and Nunsense.
Stockton is Fred Graham/ Petruchio. He has a wonderful comedy talent, and it shows through in this production. His singing is passable, but his voice cracks once in a while. Wingler is a good comic, too. As Katheriine, (she plays Lilli Vanessi, the actress, and Katherine, the shrew), she is mean as anyone could be for mostly comic effect. Her singing voice is very, very good.
Jessica Ann Kelley and Kenny Buchanan play the second leads and they are the two best singers in the show. They play their roles (Lois Lane/Bianca and Bill Calhoun/Lucentio) convincingly. Buchanan also dances well.
The two comedians are Scott Armitage and Andy Harrison, who play two mobsters who end up in the play by mistake. Their song, "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare", is a real treat. Their mangling of the English language in dialog and lyric is hilarious.
Brad Sandy, Meghan McClain and Ric McFadden are in featured roles. Sandy and McClaine also sing well, and McFadden's role as General Harrison Howell is funny, and those of a certain age will be reminded of an old soldier who wouldn't "fade away."
Others of note: Jack Randall Earles as the stage manager; Dave Buttram as Baptista; T.J Tincher as Hortensio; and Craig Armitage as Nathaniel.
Kudos to Linda Gjesvold, who designed the set. This is a very complicated show to put on, and Linda did her usual outstanding job. During the first two performances I saw (rehearsals), the crew was completely mixed up during set changes, but on opening night, everything went well.
The ensemble also did its job well, The members are: Clarence Long, Lori Briones, Bryan Schroeder, Dylan Harrison, Ty Fauvergue, Tammy Hunter, Alex Asbell, Amelia Beck, Katie Clark, Rachel Clift, Sarah Dory, Debbie Gannaway, Taylor Gannaway, Caroline Good, Kaeli Gray, Alix Green, Aaron Hunter, Cathy Stiles and Kay Wood.
The musical director is Geoff Price. He plays the piano in the orchestra, too. The members of his troop are Michael McClaine playing percussion, Ashley Holmes playing bass and Pat Scott playing synthesizer.
The choreographers were Lita Sandy and Earles, and the techincal director was Schroeder. The costumer was Pat Armitage. The sound was by Kristen Berger and the lights were operated by Mellisa Green. Parker's assistants were Kullan Edberg and Earles.
The stage crew members are Edberg, Tony Canady, Lauren Good, Keri Good, Jim Green, Alice Moore, Carly Roseboom and Chelsea Simmons. Set construction and paint crew are Gjesvold, Pat, Scott and Craig Armitage, Clarence Long, Rick Parker, Sara Dory; Meghan McClaine, Dave Buttram, Caroline Good, Lauren Good, Abby Mitchell and Ty Fauvergue.
If you like Cole Porter's music, this is a must-see.
It is sponsored in part by First National Bank.