London Coliseum – until 30 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Rhys Scrivener
Broadway producer Arnold Saint-Subber based Kiss Me, Kate on the real-life story of husband and wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne and their arguments and antics during the 1935 production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Husband and wife team, Samuel and Bella Spewack, wrote the original show in 1947 and Bella enlisted Cole Porter to write the sensational lyrics and score.
This is a classic musical about putting on a show and revolves around the director, producer and star Fred Graham and the exploits with his ex-wife who plays his leading lady Lilli Vanessi as they try to get through the first night of a musical version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Add a second romance between Lois Lane and her boyfriend Bill who has a run-in with two gangsters and with the Cole Porter score you have everything you need for the perfect show.
This production of Kiss Me, Kate has two major problems: I could not find a single thing wrong with opening night, and it’s impossible to mention everything that deserves a mention.
James Holmes and his 50-plus piece orchestra are sublime and this is now the definitive version of the brilliant Cole Porter score for me. A sound so rich in texture but with a delicacy and fidelity rarely heard outside the world’s top-ranking symphony orchestras. I was mesmerised throughout the evening by the incredible sounds coming from the pit.
The direction from Jo Davies and revival director Ed Goggin was outstanding and the performance from the whole production team was seamless. It had everything for a superb night at the theatre and then some.
Quirijn de Lang as Fred/Petruchio unleashed his sensational baritone voice melting the hearts of the audience on numerous occasions. His energy and stage presence was at the centre of the evening’s performance. Stephanie Corley had it all as the feisty Lilli/Kate and her song So in Love left me wanting more of her magical voice.
Too Darn Hot, the big dance number at the beginning of Act 2 was a joy to watch led by the wonderful Stephane Anelli.
Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin who both have an opera background showed their versatility and endless talent as the loveable first and second gunman. Never over-playing their parts Brush up your Shakespeare was musical comedy at its best – Morecombe and Wise would have been proud.
Photo ©Tristram Kenton
Zoë Rainey as Lois/Bianca dazzled throughout the evening and her song Always True to You in My Fashion clearly demonstrated why she is a West End star. Any future stars in training – That is how you deliver a musical theatre number.
If I had to pick a highlight, it would be Alan Burkitt’s triple threat performance as Bill/Lucentio. His tap dance in the second act which came out of no-where was like a mixture from the Royal Ballet’s Steven McRae and the great man himself Fred Astaire (if that is at all possible). Put this dance alone on your Musical Theatre bucket list!
An impeccable 5-star production from Opera North in association with Welsh National Opera. Do not be put off with the word ‘Opera’, this is West End musical theatre at its very, very best. This is a ridiculously short run, so drop everything, brush up your Shakespeare and book your tickets now to catch this masterpiece of musical theatre. At the London Coliseum until the 30th of June and continuing at Edinburgh Festival Theatre from the 4th to the 7th of July.
Box office: 020 7845 9300 or londoncoliseum.org
Wed 20 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Thu 21 Jun 2018 2.30pm
Thu 21 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Fri 22 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Sat 23 Jun 2018 2.30pm
Sat 23 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Tues 26 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Wed 27 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Thu 28 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Fri 29 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Sat 30 Jun 2018 2.30pm
Sat 30 Jun 2018 7.30pm
Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Box office: 0131 529 6000 or edtheatres.com
Wed 4 July 2018 7.15pm
Thu 5 July 2018 7.15pm
Fri 6 July 2018 7.15pm
Sat 7 July 2018 2.15pm
Sat 7 July 2018 7.15pm
Kiss Me, Kate is a co-production with Welsh National Opera.
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