Above: The cast in chorus. Right: Tess Burke as Lois Lane and Jack Harbour as Bill Calhoun. Below right: Simon Stone as Fred Graham. Photos: Varga Studios
Kiss Me Kate
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Directed by Andrew Cockroft-Penman
Musical Director Caroline Taylor.
Gold Coast Little Theatre
21A Scarborough St
Season runs until July 28. Bookings: www.gclt.com.au or ring 5646717.
Kiss Me, Kate has had another opening – this time at the Gold Coast Little Theatre – but it’s hardly just another show.
Cole Porter’s 1948 originally ran for more than 1000 performances, won five Tonys, including best musical for the first time, and has been revised many times since.
Now the embattled GCLT is looking to the musical, with its large cast and extensive and talented creative crew, to kick-start its fortunes after a stormy start to the 2018 season.
It’s overall a good choice as musicals have proved to be a perennial favourite on the Coast and this one has some of
Porter’s best loved songs including Another Op’nin, Another Show, Wunderbar, Too Darn Hot, Brush Up Your Shakespeare and Kiss Me, Kate.
The story, inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and legendary battling Broadway husband and wife thespians Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, follows the antics of impresario Fred Graham (Simon Stone) and his ex-wife Lille Vanessi (Naomi Mole).
The idea is that Fred has wooed his ex back to the theatre in 1948 where the couple is starring in the Ford Theatre in Baltimore in a new updated production of the Shrew with a Porter musical score.
This is a troubled relationship on and off stage with added complications including Fred’s new love interest actress Lois Lane (Tess Burke), who also has another love interest in the shape of co-star Bill Calhoun (Jack Harbour).
The foursome has to deal with their on-stage Shakespearean roles and their off-stage shenanigans in addition to two gun totting comic gangsters (Nicola Barrett and Terri Woodfine).
The gangsters are there at first to reclaim a gambling debt that Calhoun owes their boss, but when Fred and Lilli Vanessi start falling out and, she threatens to leave the show, Fred convinces the heavies to convince her to stay and save the show.
The loveable baddies find themselves in the show and become so inspired that they sing the crowd favourite, Brush up Your Shakespeare.
Just to add final spice to the mix Lilli Vanessi’s fiancée, war veteran General Harrison Howell (George Pulley), also turns up and recognises Lois as a former love.
The whole business is what used to be known as good clean fun, with the added bonus of Porter’s magical score, and both Naomi Mole and Simon Stones have the class voices needed to carry off their leading singing roles.
The supporting actors and ensemble all hold their own and the creatives, including director Andrew Cockroft-Penman musical director Caroline Taylor, dance captain executive choreographer Tess Burke and a team of supporting choreographers hold the show together.
The cast and crew have given the GCLT a good, strong, traditional production of the ever popular musical that’s bound to be a crowd pleaser as the theatre works to reinvent self.
The GCLT has three more major show in the pipe-line for the rest of the year including the Ray Cooney farce Run for Your Wife (September), another Broadway classic Hello, Dolly! (November-December) and finally a pantomime, Cinderella, featuring Jerry Herman’s music.