Kiss Me Kate
Kiss Me, Kate is a musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. It is structured as a play within a play, where the interior play is a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew. Kiss Me, Kate was a comeback and a personal triumph for Cole Porter. After several successful musicals in the 1920’s and 1930s, notably Gay Divorce, Fifty Million Frenchmen, and Anything Goes, he experienced an equestrian accident in 1937 that left him in constant pain. Following the accident, he continued to write songs and musicals but with limited success, such as Mexican Hayride, Let’s Face It!, and Something for the Boys, and some thought he was past his prime. Kiss Me, Kate was a response to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! and other integrated musicals, and it proved to be his biggest hit and the only one of his shows to run for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. It won the first Tony Award presented for Best Musical, in 1949.
Cast & Creative
|Fred Graham / Petruchio||Bryan Cardus|
|Lilli Vanessi /Kate||Sue Astbury|
|Lois Lane /Bianca||Lucy Anne Clement|
|Bill Calhoun||Howie Corlett|
|Harrison Howell||Charles Halford|
|Harry Trevor / Baptista||Andrew Yeates|
|Ray (Stage Manager)||Lynne Shirley|
|Director||Wesley Henderson Roe|
|Production Manager||Clare Williams|
|Stage Manager||Eric Williams|
|Deputy Stage Manager||Claire Williams|
|Lighting Designer||Rob Arundel|
|Sound Design||David Gates|
|Front of House||Clare Henderson-Roe|
|Set design||Wesley Henderson Roe|
Reviews & Awards
Frank Ruhrmund - The Cornishman
With truly “Wunderbar” weather, a capacity Bank Holiday audience, whose sense of anticipation was all but tangible and whose expectations, like those of Dickens, were great, plus the music and lyrics, not to mention magic, of Cole Porter and a company raring to go for Another Op’nin’, Another Show, the BROS Theatre Company’s production of Kiss Me Kate had to be a winner. Reckoned to be Cole Porter’s own favourite show, one which opened in New York’s New Century Theatre 57 years ago and has since been acclaimed as “one of the masterpieces of American musical theatre”, its story line – not to be studied too closely or taken too seriously – owes a lot to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and revolves around the on and off stage conflict between the actors playing Kate and Petruchio during a try out of the play in the Ford Theatre in Baltimore.
A play within a play, it presents problems in production, all of which director Wesley Henderson Roe, with the help of choreographer Melanie Edwards, musical director Martin Wilcox, and a huge back stage crew, copes with admirably to come up with a show which is as appealing and assured, and on occasion, as aggressive, as it is Too Darn Hot. The big numbers in Cole Porter’s brilliant score – one feels that the Bard himself would have been proud to have written some of these songs – are put over with pizzazz, and all praise to the company’s energetic and eager troupe of hoofers, so, too, is the solo spot, Lucy Clement’s rendering as the dumb and dizzy blonde Lois (Bianca) of Always True To You In My Fashion, and the duet by the pair of hoods, the amusing “Mickey Mice”, Paul Kirkbright (Ripper) and Lawrence Keal (Knuckles), with their encore entreating, show-stopping Brush Up Your Shakespeare. Ultimately, however, the show stands or falls on the standard of performance given by the protagonists in this battle of the sexes, and the company is fortunate in having two such fiery opponents as Sue Astbury as Lilli (Kate), who delivers her solo I Hate Men with relish and rage, and Bryan Cardus as Fred (Petruchio), who Wives It as wonderfully as he does Wealthily In Padua.
A couple in real danger of doing themselves an injury before the week is over, they slug it out, slapping, kicking and kissing, one another with gusto – their amalgam of clowning, choreography and timing, in the extremely physical Were Thine That Special Face is firstrate. While I’m still not sure who won this particular battle, or even the war eventually, it hardly matters. Long before the curtain comes down, they do more than enough to ensure that this production, from its ingenious programme to their final embrace and kiss, is, in every sense, a “spanking” success and a victory for the BROS Theatre Company.