Audience members will laugh so hard they cry, watching this fantastic production of Kiss Me, Kate. Be it cast, music or setting, this production is a masterpiece and will be difficult to beat.
The Welsh National Opera’s production of Kiss Me, Kate is a truly wonderful creation, brimming with energy that takes the whole audience along for a wild ride of a show.
The story is based on a group of actors who are putting on a performance of The Taming of the Shrew in Baltimore, where they hope they will make their big break and leave their pasts behind for stardom. The troupe is led by their producer, Mr Fred Graham (Quirijin de Lang), and their leading lady Lilli Vanessi (Jeni Bern), who inspire them and drive the show, both onstage and off. As an amusing plot twist these two also happen to be ex lovers, and Vanessi has moved on to date the troupe’s main financial supporter, Harrison Howell.
The production is a wonderful mixture of mediums, with Cole Porter refusing to adhere to the norm. Instead, he creates a production which screams originality and fearlessness. Audiences will be amazed at the use of tap, ballet, ballroom, operatic and musical styles, as the show pushes boundaries and sets a new standard for future productions. Kiss Me, Kate manages to combine it all without ever seeming too busy, creating a sense of seamlessness as this complicated production is put on with ease.
Cole Porter’s production bounces from comedic to dramatic, much like the great Shakespeare’s productions of old, allowing a serious tone to the performance without it becoming too morose. The battle of love between Graham and Vanessi is a particularly nice combination, as you root for them and mourn their pain and miscommunication, while laughing at their games and mischief. However the true comedic stars of the show are Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin, who play the two goons. Their hilarious performances truly made the show, and left the whole audience in stitches of laughter. They played on puns and irony perfectly, giving a wickedly funny interpretation of 1920s gangsters, and pushing the boundaries as far as they could without being slapstick.
The production’s setting was fantastically done, lulling the audience into the belief they were in fact witnessing life behind the scenes in the 1920s, while simultaneously being aware of the joke. The settings for the renaissance era, which the troupe depicted in their performance of The Taming of the Shrew, were also beautiful, giving a lifelike sense to the production which was put on within the production.
While the cast was excellent and all the couples had impressive chemistry, the most outstanding part of the entire production was the music. The songs were brilliantly catchy and enjoyable, with audience members singing along and swaying whenever a tune was played. A particularly energetic and fun song was “Too Darn Hot”, in which most of the cast partook, and they seemed to enjoy performing it as much as the audience did watching it. Songs varied from fun musical numbers to heartbreaking operatic solos, with the different styles expressing the emotion and energy for which the situation called.
Overall, the Welsh National Opera pulled off a triumph in their production of Kiss Me, Kate at the Mayflower Theatre, entertaining the audience throughout and creating a story both amusing and heartbreaking. You may enter the theatre knowing little about the production, but by the time you leave, you will be in love. The only complaint that could be made is that their production raised the bar so high that few productions will be able to live up to your expectations in the future.
The Welsh National Opera’s production of Kiss Me, Kate is currently on tour in the UK. Their next stop will be the Birmingham Hippodrome, where they will be performing from the 10-12 November. Watch the trailer for Kiss Me, Kate below.