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Darko Tresnjak Directs KISS ME, KATE, Beginning Tonight in Hartford


Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak will helm Kiss Me, Kate-his first musical since winning the 2014 Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. A co-production with The Old Globe in San Diego, Kiss Me, Kate will play for only four weeks, from tonight, May 14-June 14.

Kiss Me, Kate also reunites Tresnjak with 'Gentleman's Guide' Choreographer Peggy Hickey, Set Designer Alexander Dodge (Tony Award nominee); and Lighting Designer Philip Rosenberg.

With a book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, and music and lyrics by Cole Porter, Kiss Me, Kate is a joyful and high-spirited musical comedy that follows the backstage antics of a touring company performing The Taming of the Shrew, featuring two feuding couples, a few gun-toting gangsters, and some of the best numbers ever written: "Another Op'nin,' Another Show," "Too Darn Hot," "Wunderbar," "So in Love," and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Tresnjak said, "I started thinking about directing Kiss Me, Kate in 1990, when the influential album "Red, Hot, and Blue: A Tribute to Cole Porter" introduced his smart and sexy music to a whole new generation. After 25 years, I'm thrilled to finally get a chance to direct this supreme entertainment-a piece in which my two great theatrical passions, the plays of William Shakespeare and the American musical theatre, come together."

The original 1949 production of Kiss Me, Kate ran for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway and won the first Tony Award for Best Musical. Last week it was announced the cast album will be added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.

Other Cole Porter musicals include Anything Goes, Can-Can, Gay Divorce, and Silk Stockings, containing such classic tunes as "Let's Do It," "Love for Sale," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Night and Day," "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," "Begin the Beguine," "Well, Did You Evah!" and "You'd Be So Easy to Love."

Last spring Tresnjak earned the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Direction of a Musical for the Broadway production of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which he debuted at Hartford Stage in 2012. "Inspired and hilarious," according to The New York Times, A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder won a total of four Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Freedman), and Best Costume Design for a Musical (Linda Cho).

The cast includes Brendan Averett as Second Man (The Killer, Theatre for a New Audience); Anastasia Barzee as Lilli/Kate (Urinetown on Broadway); Joel Blum as First Man (Tony Award nominee for both Show Boat and Steel Pier); Giovanni Bonaventura as Hortensio (Cinderella on Broadway); Robert Hannon Davis as Ralph (A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas at Hartford Stage); Charity Angel Dawson as Hattie (Side Show on Broadway); Tyler Hanes as Bill/Lucentio (A Chorus Line on Broadway); James T. Lane as Paul (The Scottsboro Boys on Broadway); Barrett Martin as Gremio (Side Show on Broadway); Robin Masella as a dancer (Chicago national tour); Mike McGowan as Fred/Petruchio (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on Broadway); Shina Ann Morris as a dancer (Cinderella on Broadway); Jane Papageorge as a dancer (Hair, Hollywood Bowl); Wayne W. Pretlow as Pops/Priest (The Most Happy Fella, City Center ENCORES!); Megan Sikora as Lois/Bianca (Curtains on Broadway); Michael Starr as Phillip (Guys and Dolls in LA); Jeff Steitzer as Harry Trevor/Baptista Minola (The Front Page, Long Wharf Theatre); Johnny Stellard as Nathaniel (Evita on Broadway); and Nick Wyman as General Harrison Howell (Loot at Hartford Stage, original cast of Phantom of the Opera).

In addition to Tresnjak, the creative team includes Peggy Hickey, Choreographer (My Fair Lady, New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center); Kris Kukul, Music Director (The Last Goodbye, The Old Globe); Alexander Dodge, Set Designer (Private Lives and Twelfth Night at Hartford Stage); Fabio Toblini, Costume Designer (Bell, Book and Candle and Hamlet at Hartford Stage); Philip Rosenberg, Lighting Designer (Somewhere at Hartford Stage and Broadway's The Elephant Man); and Jonathan Deans, Sound Designer(More than 10 Cirque du Soleil productions worldwide; Tony Award nominee for Pippin on Broadway last year; Finding Neverland at present).

Photo by Walter McBride

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