Since the opening of “Kiss Me Kate,” the Lyceum Theater has been filled with a blend of Shakespeare, rich music, comedy, and stellar choreography.
“Kiss Me Kate” first appeared on Broadway back in 1948 and was an instant-crowd pleaser. The catchy music and lyrics of “Kiss Me Kate” were done brilliantly by Cole Porter while the original cast was full of raw talent. With more than 1,000 performances on Broadway and five Tony Awards, “Kiss Me Kate” is one of the most famous musical adaptations of Shakespeare.
Senior Bretyln Schmitt, who plays one of the leads, found inspiration in both character and choreography by looking back on great works in revivals found in the original Kiss Me Kate production. Schmitt says, “We were able to work with a Cole Porter masterpiece, and portray characters tackled by legends such as Ann Miller and Howard Keel.”
The plot of the play consist of a play-within-a-play that focuses on a theater company comprising of an egotistical actor and producer, Fred Graham and his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, who respectively play the Shakespearean roles of Petruchio and Katherine in a musical production of “Taming the Shrew.” In both the play and the real world, we watch the relationship between the two develop through romance and lots of bickering.
Senior, Kelsey Coloman beautifully portrayed Lilli Vanessi (Kate) through strength and grace. While senior, Jordan Leammlen portrayed Fred Graham’s (Petruchio) abrasive personality with ease.
Sue Berkompus who has been away from directing musicals for quite some time directed “Kiss Me Kate.” Berkompas says, “I love musicals and I’m so glad I directed “Kiss Me Kate.” It is a beautiful blend of everything I love.”
The biggest challenge Berkompus had in directing the play involved the brilliant yet problematic set. It really is one of a kind. The set consists of an electronic revolve that rotates to two different sets. On one side of the revolve is the set of the play, “Taming the Shrew” and the other side of the revolve is the set of what was going on backstage.
Berkompus, says, “The challenge was making sure the cast and crew were and are constantly aware of the danger that can accompany a revolve if one is not paying attention. All those bodies had to be directed to go somewhere and do something, and that was a fun challenge.” Thankfully, no accidents have occurred.
Schmitt’s last performance of her college career will be “Kiss Me Kate” and she has been giving it her all, along with the rest of the talented cast. Schmitt says, “This cast has been so encouraging, and supportive of one another. They seamlessly work together backstage to ensure that everyone makes cues, has dressers, and is able to perform at their best on stage. It has been such a wonderful environment for creativity.” It has been a team effort and it shows on stage. It is a show you definitely do not want to miss!
“Kiss Me Kate” will continue to be showing April 23-26th. Visit the Theatre page for more info and tickets.