A Review of the Friday/Monday Cast of Kiss Me, Kate

By Erika Lopez

Tech is known for impressive and entertaining spring musicals and this year’s musical, Kiss Me, Kate, was no exception. After two months of rehearsal, Kiss Me, Kate debuted on April 11th, 2013, featuring a talented and experienced cast.

However, the lead roles were double casted, meaning one cast performed on April 11th and 16th, and the other performed on the 12th and the 15th. The following review is of the 12th and 15th cast.

American songwriter and playwright Cole Porter wrote Kiss Me, Kate. It opened on Broadway in 1948, during a time of prosperity given the recent end of World War II, an event to which multiple allusions are made throughout the show.

Essentially a play within a play, Kiss Me, Kate showcases the struggle actors and actresses face of balancing their professional and personal lives.

In the musical, a Baltimore theatre company is putting on William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Howerver, there is a romantic conflict between the play’s director and producer, Fred Graham, and the leading actress, Lilli Vanessi. Once married, the two actors are now divorced, but they appear to still have feelings for one another. The musical details their complicated relationship and those of the other characters.

Tech’s version of Kiss Me, Kate quite literally started off on a strong note as the cast passionately sang “Another Op’nin’, Another Show.”

The second scene of the play involved a secondary love conflict between actress Lois Lane, played by Sasha Kazachkova ’13, and actor Bill Calhoun, played Benjamin Haye ’13.

Kazachkova, who was actually in the off-Broadway production Bellevue Sketches, is an amazing and experienced singer, dancer, and actress. Her strong performance made it was clear that she felt comfortable on stage.

Haye, a veteran member of Tech’s chorus, was a perfect fit for his humorous character.

During the next scene, I was finally able to see the stars of the musical, Chloe Schwartz ‘13 as Lilli Vanessi and Russell Frisch ‘13 as Fred Graham. The scene concluded with the Viennese Waltz.

While the dancing and singing were not spot-on in this scene, the acting sure was.

Soon after this romantic scene came the most comedic part of the musical, which involved two gangsters played by Sumyia Razzak ‘13 and Jordan Page ’15. The gangsters claimed that Frisch’s character owed them $10,000 and throughout the musical they refuse to leave the production empty-handed. In Act II, they performed a song titled “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” which was truly hysterical.

My favorite part of the musical was an elaborate dance scene in Act II that featured one of the cast’s youngest members, Matthew Holliday ’15, as Paul. In this musical number, “Too Darn Hot”, Holliday simultaneously sang, danced, and acted. Holiday later commented that he had a great time performing.

“I don’t think anyone was expecting such a[n] upbeat swing, jazzy feeling song… It [was] fun interacting with [everyone] on stage and feeding off [everyone’s] energy.”

Because this was a musical, it is important to realize that this production could not have been the great success it was without music director Cory Fisher and the band.

While I did enjoy the musical a lot, there were some aspects that I felt needed improvement. I noticed that in several of the songs actors were singing off-key.

Additionally, throughout the play I found that actors’ microphones were very low, which could have contributed to their sounding off-key. It was hard to understand what was being said during some parts of the play, which made it somewhat difficult to follow.

Nonetheless, the musical was worth watching. I am glad that Kiss Me Kate was my first introduction to Tech theater because it was memorable and entertaining. Bravo!

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