KISS ME KATEMusic and Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Sam and Bella Spewack
Garland Summer Musicals
Director – Buff Shurr
Producer – Patty Granville
Set Design – Kelly Cox
Costume Design – Michael A. Robinson, Dallas Costume Shoppe
Sound Design – Tyler Payne, Ultimate AVT, Inc.
Master Carpenter – Joseph Murdock
Props/Set Dressing – Lynn Mauldin, Rebekka Koepke
Lighting Design – Susan A White
Stage Manager – Morgan Leigh Beach
Music Director/Conductor – Scott A. Eckert
Technical Director – Timothy Doyle
Choreographer – Kelly McCain
Assistant to the Producer – Brenda Rozinsky
Hattie – Whitney Rosenbalm
Paul – Ivan Jones
Ralph – Steven E. Beene – This night David Tinney performed the role.
Lois Lane/Bianca – Christine Phelan
Bill Calhoun/Lucentio – Brandon Baker
Lilli Vanessi/Katherine – Lauren LeBlanc
Dance Captain – Gena Loe
Fred Graham/Petruchio – Michael Isaac
Harry Trevor/Baptista – Phil Alford
Pops – David Noel
Cab Driver – Juan M. Perez
First Man – Steven J. Golin
Second Man – Alan J. Hanna
Harrison Howell – James Williams
Gremio/First Suitor – Nick Chabot
Hortensio/Second Suitor – Matt Flowers
Nathaniel – Corbin Born
Gregory – Adam Henley
Philip – Dakota Davis
Haberdasher – David Tinney
Katelyn Anderson, Whitnee Bomkamp, Corbin Born, Nick Chabot, Dakota Davis, Elizabeth Drake, Gabriel Ethridge, Gideon Ethridge, Matt Flowers, Linda Frank, Allyson Guba, Adam Henley, Joel Harrison Jenkins, Caitlin Jones Lori Jones, Gena Loe, Helena Lynch, Nitzie Martinez, Morgan Maxey, Nathan May, Taylor M. Owen, Juan Perez, McKenzie Reece, Caren Sharpe-Herbst, David Tinney.
Piano – Jon Schweikhard
Keyboard – Larry Miller
Bass – Peggy Honea
Guitar – Maristella Feustle
Percussion – Alan Pollard
Trumpets – Phil West, Carlos Strudwick
Trombone – Paul Birk
French Horn – Charlotte O’Connor
Woodwinds – Christian Gonzalez, Andrew Stonerock, Allison Suding
Violin – Christine Aeschbacher
Reviewed Performance: 7/21/2018
Reviewed by Chris Hauge, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
“Kiss Me Kate” produced on Broadway in 1948, became Cole Porter’s most successful play and was the awarded the very first Tony for Best Musical in 1949. It follows the travails of divorced actors Lilli Vanessi (Lauren LeBlanc) and Fred Graham (Michael Isaac) as they try to work together in a musical production of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” in which they play Katherine the shrew and Petruchio. With the combination of Fred’s philandering and Lilli’s new fiancé and their continued feelings for one another, the situation is rocky at best. And the battle between them are waged on and off stage.
In addition is the romance between dance partners Lois Lane (Christine Phelan), who is being ‘cultured’ by director/actor Fred Graham, and Bill Calhoun, a gambler who is not averse to signing Fred’s name to his IOU’s. All of this leads to mistaken identities, and mis-delivered flowers and visits by threatening gangsters and a whole lot of fun for the audience.
Buff Shurr has directed the proceedings with a sure hand and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. The set design by Kelly Cox is extremely well done. We are taken back stage and into Fred and Lilli’s dressing room and onstage for the play within this play and all of it is very believable. I appreciated the various ‘curtain warmers’ performed by various cast members in front of the curtain to provide time for the set changes. It made the scene transitions seamless.
The lighting by Susan A. White is appropriately splashy and fun and gives us those lovely moments when the lights dim, and a follow-spot highlights a lovely solo. The costumes by Michael A. Robinson and the Dallas Costume Shoppe give us classy backstage ‘civilian’ clothes and then transports us to Shakespeare’s Padua with color and flair. Choreographer Kelly McCain is to be applauded. All the numbers, particularly with large groups, have so much energy and joy. The “Too Darn Hot” number is an especially good example of this.
Now, this is a musical, and we would be nowhere without the orchestra. Musical director Scott A. Eckert seemed to have so much fun leading this group of talented musicians through Cole Porter’s classy score. The power exuded by the orchestra combined with the commitment shown by the actors made for a very enjoyable theatrical experience.
I have talked about the talent of the cast so let’s get down to specifics. Lauren LeBlanc as Lilli Vanessi/Katherine has the strength to make her Katherine the shrew formidable and the vulnerability to show Lilli’s struggle with her emotions. Her voice is soft and lyrical and makes numbers like “So in Love” enchanting. She can also, as Katherine, believably bellow out, “I Hate Men” and make every man in the audience squirm. I enjoyed her performance a great deal.
As the egotistical Producer/Director/Actor Fred Graham, Michael Isaac is wonderful. He has a strong voice and makes the most of it in songs from the wonderfully chauvinistic “I have come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua” to a heart-felt reprise of “So in Love”. Mr. Isaac knows he has a meaty role and makes the most of it. He never over-does it and at the end of the night leaves a lasting impression.
I guess the world-wise blond is a fixture of this sort of operation and Christine Phelan plays Lois Lane with a sexiness honed by street smarts. She knows the reality of getting what she wants from life (as in the song “I’m Always True to You, Darling, in My Fashion”) and isn’t afraid to use her wiles to defeat any resistance to her charms. Ms. Phelan also makes a fetching Bianca in the play within a play. Her love interest on and offstage is Bill Calhoun. Played by Brandon Baker, Bill may be a gambler, but his real weakness is Lois. Mr. Calhoun is a wonderful dancer and gets several opportunities to shine. I especially enjoyed him in “Bianca” and in “Tom, Dick or Harry”.
Whitney Rosenbalm as Hattie gets to exhibit her lovely voice in the opening number “Another Opening, Another Show”. Ivan Jones gets the honor of singing “It’s Too Darn Hot” and does a great job. Notice must be given to all of those who were in the ensemble who made each number enjoyable. And I cannot end this article without mentioning our gangsters, Steven J. Golin and Alan J. Hanna. With wonderful accents and comic timing, they stole every scene they were in. Their dance number, “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” was one of the highlights of the night.
There is so much to love about this show. It runs for one more week end and I would feel bad if you missed it. And you wouldn’t want me to feel bad, would you?
Presented by The Garland Summer Musicals
In partnership with Eastfield College
July 20th – 29th, 2018
July 27th & 28th – 8:00Pm
July 29th – 2:30PM
Granville Arts Center
300 N. Fifth Street, Garland, TX 75040
Tickets $27.00 -$33.00
For Information and tickets call 972-205-2790
Or go to www.garlandsummermusicals.org