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Theater Review ‘Kiss Me Kate’
by ROBERT MASSIMI 27 minutes ago in REVIEW
In Previews, Opens March 14th
Kiss Me Kate, which is in previews and opens March 14th, is a legendary musical composed by Cole Porter and written by Sam and Bella Spewack. The story is based on Lilli Vanessi (Kelli O’Hara) and Fred Graham (Will Chase), who were once married and are putting on a show in Baltimore, a musical comedy of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Now divorced, there are still feelings there, as well as a lot of tension between the two. This terrific musical premiered in 1948 and proved to be Porter’s only show to run more than 1,000 performances on Broadway. Kiss Me Kate won the Tony award for Best Musical that same year. In 1999, Kate won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical for Mitchell. Marin Mazzie also received a Tony Nomination for Best Actress in a Musical.
When I first saw this musical in 1999 at the Martin Beck, I thought it was one of the best musicals I have ever seen. I still think Kiss Me Kate is a very good musical in this production, as it has great singing, staging, and acting. Performances like “Wunderbar,” “Tom, Dick, or Harry,” and “Too Darn Hot” were show stoppers. The story ebbs and flows between comedy, great choreography and singing. Almost three hours long, the Musical, for the most part moves along quickly.
What keeps the show moving along is the stories within the stories. Lilli and Fred, and the secondary romance between Lois Lane (Stephanie Styles). and her gambler boyfriend, Bill (Corbin Blue). The interaction with the gangsters is equally entertaining. The fourth interaction is between Lilli and her fiance, the General, Harrison Howell (Terence Archie), which was not so great ( Archie is miscast in his role).
Kiss Me Kate is a huge production, with multi sets, spectacular lighting and great costumes. Jeff Mahshie did a spectacular job with the costumes. Both satirist and to the time period, the costuming blended well with this big production.
David Rockwell’s Scenic Design made this show enjoyable. From the scenes of Verona, to the back allies of Baltimore, Rockwell did a truly fabulous job.
Between the costumes, lighting (Donald Holder) and the Choreography by (Warren Carlyle), this show is a hit for Roundabout Theatre Company. From the stars to the Ensemble cast, Kiss Me Kate clicks on most cylinders and should be seen. With a strong story line and great songs, “Kate” hits you from all sides. Kelli O’Hara, who has stared in shows like “The King and I” and “The Bridges of Madison County,” has been nominated for six Tony Awards and is an international success as well a past performer at the Metropolitan Opera.
Will Chase was equally great as the ever-plotting, actor and producer of this touring group. Bent on keeping Lilli in the show for various reasons, he maneuvers the actors around like chess pieces. Still in love with Lilli, he will stop at nothing to keep her in his life.
Stephanie Styles as Lois Lane was deft in her role as both an actor and a singer. Styles brought great humor, dancing and a big voice to Kate. She is one of the main reasons while this show is so enjoyable.
Kiss Me Kate is playing at the iconic Studio 54. As a classic, it is one show this season not to be missed. If you can bear the tight seating, this beautiful theater houses a very beautiful show.
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I have been writing on theater since 1982. A graduate from Manhattan College B.S. A member of Alpha Sigma Lambda, which recognizes excellence in both English and Science. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. I’ve seen over700 shows
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