By Michelle Jacoby
It has been said the William Shakespeare wrote, “The Taming of the Shrew” sometime between 1590 and 1592. This classic play about a courtship between a gentlemen and a headstrong shrew inspired another play that has become one of the masterpieces of the musical theatre. Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate” is now playing at Westchester Broadway Theatre through November.
“Kiss Me Kate” has won five Tony Awards, including the first ever Tony award offered for Best Musical in 1949, and rightly so. This witty, fun-loving show is entertaining from start to finish. It is a show within a show about a former husband and wife acting team whose love-hate relationship interferes with the production of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
Christianne Tisdale as Lilli
Vanessi/Katharine and William Michals as Fred Graham/Petruchio set the stage on Fire. These two have the chemistry, the voices and extraordinary acting ability to keep it all together. It’s fast paced with a lot of physical comedy. “Wunderbar” and “Kiss Me Kate” are just some of the songs they sing together. Tisdale’s performance during “So In Love” and “I Hate Men” is so expressive. She draws the audience in, never knowing what she may do next.
Missy Dowse as Lois Lane/Bianca and Brian Ogilvie as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio are another strong duo. Dowse as the pretty blonde with a high-pitched voice struts around stage and has all the men falling for her in “Tom, Dick or Harry”. She makes her choice in “Always True to You (In My Fashion)” with Ogilvie and he gets to return the favor in Act II with “Bianca”.
The laughter continues when Michael Kubala and Michael J. Farina step on stage. These two gangsters bring you back to reality. Kubala and Farina threaten you with the gift of humor with “Brush Up Your Sharkespeare.”
Daren Kelly as Harrison Howell and James Van Treuren/Baptista Minola add to the play within a play. Christopher C. Fishburne as Paul shows his talents in “Too Darn Hot.”
Westchester Broadway Theatre’s rising stage transforms the set into the actor’s dressing room where the dialog is never dull. The music and Shakespearian costumes add elegance to the play while the characters take us down another road completely. William Shakespeare would be proud.
Directed and choreographed by James Brennan; music and lyrics by Cole Porter; book by Bella and Samuel Spewack; musical direction by Leo P. Carusone; set design by John Farrell; costume design by Derek Lockwood, hair/wig design by Gerard Kelly and lighting design by Andrew Gmoser.
This Bill Stutler and Bob Funking production of “Kiss Me Kate” is now playing at the Westchester Broadway Theatre through Nov. 3. For more information, please call 914-592-2222 or visit their website at www.broadwaytheatre.com.