Hornsby Musical Society’s KISS ME KATE is a bright and fun filled production. First produced on Broadway in 1948, winning the first ever Tony award for a musical, this boisterous back stage/on stage comedy is one of Hollywood’s much-loved musicals. Written by Bella and Samuel Spewack it is the story of the antics of ex-spouses battling each other in a production of The Taming of the Shrew and continuing the fight in their dressing rooms. Essential to the show’s success is the fabulous Cole Porter score, with clever rhymes and witty wordplay interposed by exciting dance numbers.
Frederick Graham, played with gusto and many sly grins by James Cullen is the egotistical director-producer who’s starring in his very own musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. He plays Petruchio and attempts to tame Katherine, played by his ex-wife Lille Vanessi. Amy Neville with her beautiful clear voice is excellent in the role of the strong Katherine and there is great chemistry between these two leads with their fiery exchanges.
The pair clash onstage and off on opening night with the plot complicated by gambling debts, singing hitmen, a new love for Lilli and a secondary romance.
This sub-plot involves Lois Lane, the actress taking the part of Bianca, played by Elizabeth Dobb and her boyfriend Bill, the actor playing Lucentio, played by Logan McArthur. These two both have great opportunities to show their talents. Elizabeth’s solo “Always True to You in My Fashion” is a delight and Logan’s singing, dancing routine “Bianca” is a great show piece.
First Man, David Emerson and Second Man, Michael Wrightson work so well together as gangsters masquerading as actors and their duo “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” is a comic highlight.
The rest of the principal cast Daniel Whitehead playing Paul/Hortensio, Jessica Edward as Hattie, Tim Selby as General Howell/Pops and Austin Menso as Gremio add their talents to the onstage and off-stage capers.
Supported by an energetic and enthusiastic ensemble, who shine in Too Darn Hot with well-executed, complex dance moves, we are carried along at a great pace by director/choreographer Lauren Oxenham. The Elizabethan costumes are wonderful and with musical direction by Brendan Flanagan, lighting by Evan Jones and sound Loud and Clear the production comes to life as we move from one scene to the next.
Comments are sometimes made about the unacceptability in this present time of the concepts of “taming of the shrew” and a woman’s place. The show however was set in another time and is for enjoyment and need not be turned into a political statement.
KISS ME KATE is only playing for a very limited season, go get along for a great night of light entertainment, at Hornsby RSL Club until Sunday 13 October 2019.