My friend was desperate to see Kiss Me Kate at the Theatre Royal, it’s one of her favourite musicals and she has seen it many times – so off we went.
Reading the programme I was very interested in the history of the show, originally on Broadway in 1948, made into a film in the 1950’s and shown on many a stage since then. If you are not familiar with Kiss Me Kate (as I wasn’t), it’s about a production company putting on a stage show of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’, a very clever idea which at first I found confusing to follow but I soon got into the stride.
There were 17 musical numbers across the 2 acts and a total of 20 scenes! You were there for the long haul, but far from being too long, the talented cast kept the audience transfixed with the memorable singing performances and colourful costumes and lively dance routines. The songs including ‘Wunderbar’, ‘Why Can’t You Behave’ and my favourite ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ had many of the audience singing along. I wish I had been able to capture my friend’s face during these high energy performance’s, she was having a ‘wunderbar’ time!
There were no second rate actors on the stage, each member of the cast from the lead actors to the ensemble was as captivating as the next and were a joy to watch. Quirijn De Lang (Fred Graham/Petruchio) and Jeni Bern (Lilli Vanessi/Kate) had outstanding voices and were perfect in their roles. Tiffany Graves (Lois Lane/Bianca) really stood out to me, her performance as the ditsy up and coming star was fantastic, she commanded the stage each time she was on it and deservedly so, singer, dancer, actor – triple threat. The handsome Ashley Day as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio had a great voice and I really enjoyed his tap dancing number.
Being a comedy fan, my favourite characters by far were the gangster gunmen played brilliantly by Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin – you didn’t warm to the characters at first, after all they were sent to threaten the leading man and to keep Lilli against her will on stage to ensure she didn’t quit the show. As they had to keep a close eye on her they ended up being uncomfortably cast in the production of The Shrew – with hilarious results. Their funny performance of ‘Brush Up Your Shakespeare’ had the audience giggling.
All in all this was a fantastic old school musical put on by a great production company who did a perfect job, especially in casting. The orchestra were captivating, this was the first time I had seen a full orchestra at the theatre and it was beautiful to listen to, a real experience.
A must see for die hard Kiss Me Kate fans or if you have never seen it and you enjoy theatre/musicals, you must! I doubt you will be disappointed.