Opera North’s revival of Kiss Me Kate played at The London Coliseum. The musical is set both on and off stage during a production of The Taming of The Shrew, in which we follow the tempestuous relationship of Fred Graham/Petruchio (Quirijn de Lang) and his ex-wife Lilli Vanessi/Kate (Stephanie Corley). One of the many reasons for Kiss Me Kate’s long success has been down to the breath-taking score written by Cole Porter, and the hilarious adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew by Bella and Samuel Spewack. Opera North’s revival directed by Jo Davies brings stunning vocals, beautiful choreography and wittily performed comedy, and so is set to be another in the long line of successful productions.
It is no mean feat to stage a musical that blends the two worlds of the characters on stage mid-performance of The Shrew and the tumultuous relationships of the characters off stage, with all their mischief of recent divorces, gambling addictions and flailing acting careers. Here the strength of Davies’s direction and Colin Richmond’s set and costume designs blended clear story-telling with gorgeous décor and ambience. The clear and clever transitions from scene to scene made it effortless for the complicated action to simply unfold in front of us. This was expertly shown in the scene where the two mobsters (Joseph Shovelton and John Savourin) who are trying to collect a debt that Bill Calhoun/ Lucentio (Alan Burkitt) has fraudulently signed off in Fred’s name, end up inadvertently in the play, singing the hilarious ‘Brush up your Shakespeare’.
The London Coliseum is the home of the English National Opera, and with its huge, sweeping stage, grand orchestra and walls humming with music history, it was a fitting venue for a production where the exemplary vocals stole the night. For me, the stand out performance of the production was Lois Lane/Bianca’s number ‘Always true to you in my Fashion’ (Zoe Rainey) who mixed mind-blowing vocals with comic timing to produce one of the biggest audience reactions of the night.
Kiss Me Kate will have you laughing, toe-tapping and completely engrossed, it’s simply Wunderbar!
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