Kiss Me, Kate is a five-time Tony award winning musical with music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Sam and Bella Spewack. It recounts the wild backstage and onstage antics of two feuding couples during a production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Directed by Cynthia Thole and wonderfully led by Broadway couple Sarah Pfisterer, as Lilli Vanessi/Katherine, and Rick Hilsabeck as Fred Graham/Petruchio, this production keeps the audience engaged and laughing throughout the close to two and a half hour show. The pair brings boldness, flare and charm to their dueling characters. They are supported by Lisa Dempsey (Lois Lane/Bianco), Kevin Patrick Martin (Bill Calhoun/Luciento) and a fantastic ensemble who keep the energy high with fun and exciting dance numbers. The entire company looked as though they were having a terrific time during their opening night performance; which in turn, led the audience to have a wonderful time as well.
Two stand out performances came at the beginning of each act. First, was Lovely Hoffman’s shining performance of Hattie during the opening number “Another Op’nin’, Another Show”; which she performed along with the ensemble, who seemed more than ready to get this show underway. This number captured the audience’s attention and was a wonderful start to the show. Second, came from Darren Bunch, as Paul, who fantastically led the spirited “Too Darn Hot” at the beginning of act two. If there’s a number that can instantly re-engage and wow the audience “Too Darn Hot” is that number.
One of my favorite parts of this production comes not from the stage but from the pit. The orchestra of nineteen musicians, led by Conductor Jeffrey P. Leonard, was fantastic from the beginning to end. They played Porter’s score like no other orchestra I’ve heard. They were sometimes upbeat and sometimes hauntingly beautiful, but at all times they were incredible.
Another area of note is the creative scenic design by Richard Schreiber whose colorful and multi-use set brought more life to the production. Speaking of life, the choreography by Susan M. Chebookjian was superbly executed by the cast. It was clear that they worked hard to make their dancing unified and exhilarating to watch.
This show is a fun night at the theatre and I’m sure the other thousand people at last night’s opening would agree. Kiss Me, Kate plays until July 19th at the Robinson Theatre (617 Lexington Street, Waltham, MA). For information and tickets visit www.reaglemusictheatre.com
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