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Friday, September 26, 2014

Kiss Me, Kate

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
Last week I went to see a musical called Kiss Me, Kate.  This musical is based around Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, so yay for a bookish connection!  I've not seen this musical before, or heard much of the music (except I adore the song "So In Love" which was used in a biopic film based on Cole Porter's life called "De-Lovely- great movie!  And soundtrack!)  But because of the Shakespeare connection and that song, I've been wanting to see this show for awhile now.  Bonus that it's starring Wayne Brady too - who I love from Whose Line is it Anyway?.  And while I'm digressing all over the place - my favorite cover of a Beatles song is Wayne's version of "Can't Buy Me Love".  It's all smooth, and jazzy - so gorgeous!

First off, my friend and I got there early to grab dinner before the show, and who should I see sitting outside at an outdoor cafe, but Wayne Brady talking with another actor!  OMG. I dithered sooo long over whether or not to go up to him and say hi and ask for a picture, because it was likely I would see him after the show, but what if something happened and I didn't get to see him?  But when he and the other actor got up to leave, I darted over.  And they were very nice, and let me take a picture.  And I'm glad I did it before the show, because after was a bit awkward since a lot of friends of the actors were hanging around and talking with the cast.

Now about the musical!  It's great fun - slightly silly and campy - with some catchy songs and great dance numbers.  The show has a jazz influence and I think this production gave it an extra bit more - the title number "Another Op'nin', Another Show" alone had this brilliant soft and sultry beginning as one of the characters wanders through the set.

The musical has a show within a show set-up because the characters are putting on a musical production of Taming of the Shrew, and backstage relationships kinda mirror the relationships in the play.  Which is to say, the whole dynamic between Fred/Petruchio and Lili/Kate is still a bit uncomfortable to me.  The whole you-must-be-a-dutiful-wife thing is not a great message, and the musical doesn't do much to temper that by changing up the dynamic in the actors' relationship.  I also didn't understand why Fred and Lili made it up so quickly since they are divorced so presumably there must be problems they are not addressing.  Um, but I'm probably taking this too seriously though since this as this show is supposed to be fun!

My favorite parts of the show were the songs "I Hate Men" (sung by Kate with ALL the vitriol), "Too Darn Hot" (which had a great tap dance number and so much humor in the lyrics - the ensemble really pulled out all the nuance from those lyrics), and "Always True to You in My Fashion." Bianca/Lois was sooo funny in this - she presents her best face to her boyfriend when he's around, but shows her other side to the audience.  And the actress playing Lois has such a fantastic voice.

The whole cast was excellent in this - this was only the third night of previews, but they seemed very comfortable with each other.  And the two stars - Wayne Brady and Merle Dandrige - well I'll just gush more here - they are excellently cast, and perfect for pulling all the humor out of their roles.  The romance part was well done, but I was not as invested in that - given my problems with the dynamic between the characters mentioned already - but I think they brought the characters and the story perfectly and vividly to life.  I really enjoyed seeing this and hope to see this again at the Pasadena Playhouse before it's run is over!

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