Review Roundup: KISS ME, KATE at the Old Vic - All the Reviews!

Review Roundup: KISS ME, KATE at the Old Vic - All the Reviews!

Trevor Nunn directs the Old Vic production of Kiss Me, Kate, with Music and lyrics by Cole Porter and Book by Sam and Bella Spewack, which performed in London 20 November.

Choreography is provided by Stephen Mear for a cast that includes Alex Bourne, David Burt, Adam Garcia, Clive Rowe and Hannah Waddingham.

Let's see what the critics had to say:

According to Michael Coveney of, he writes: There’s nothing but pleasure to be had from Trevor Nunn’s staging of Kiss Me Kate, seen earlier this summer at Chichester and now installed as ideal holiday entertainment at the Old Vic.

It’s quite a long evening, nearly three hours, but the stateliness suits the show’s construction and also the deliberation with which FrEd Graham (Alex Bourne) and his company of actors are preparing a try-out performance of a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew one hot summer afternoon in Baltimore.

Charles Spencer of The Telegraph says: Nights at the theatre don't come much more enjoyable than seeing Trevor Nunn’s revival of Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic.... Hannah Waddingham and Alex Bourne ignite some fizzing on stage chemistry in the leading roles of Lilli Vanessi and FrEd Graham, formerly married troupers who discover that their own private lives are mirrored in the vexed and sometimes brutal relationship depicted in Shakespeare’s comedy.

Fiona Mountford of the Evening Standard writes: Trevor Nunn, presiding over his third major opening in two months, certainly knows his way around a classic musical, having made them a central feature of his tenure at The National Theatre.  He gives us a lengthy but slick show with high production values, although at the preview performance I saw there were some notable dips in energy levels, a niggling problem that also afflicts his other current West End piece, A Chorus of Disapproval.

Dominic Maxwell of The Times writes: How do you solve a problem like The Taming of the Shrew? Like this, ideally... And Trevor Nunn has revived it with relish in a production, first seen this summer at the Chichester Festival Theatre, that purrs satisfyingly as it goes through each of its different gears: from farce to show-within-a-show spectacle, from pathos to tap-dancing... 

Matthew Tucker of the Huffington Post says:  Bourne's intuitive comic timing keeps the plot tapping along at a finger-clicking pace, as he quite literally tames the shrew. The leading man's Clark Gable demeanour complements Waddington's Hepburn spirit - channeling two Hollywood icons on the Old Vic's legendary stage.

Sam Marlowe of writes:  Cole Porter’s musical spin on Shakespeare demands the fluidity, fizz and acidity of champagne. In Trevor Nunn’s revival, which transfers to London after a successful run in Chichester, it’s more like gelato. It has sweetness, and a rich abundance of detail, but it’s also thick, cloying, and somewhat bland. There’s plenty of stagey pizzazz on display, but it too often feels strained and soulless. The production lingers when it should zing, and despite some fine song and dance, it never conjures either the sexual heat or the showbiz buzz that should set it sparkling.

Ian Shuttleworth of says: Trevor Nunn’s revival is packed with talent, from the statuesque and titanium-lunged Hannah Waddingham as diva Lilli, relishing every moment of furious coloratura, and Clive Rowe as one of a brace of intruding gangsters (the Old Vic’s gain is Hackney Empire’s loss, as the latter’s Christmas pantomime is once again this year without one of the best dames in the business). Other stalwarts include Adam Garcia and David Burt, and Jason Pennycooke, who here gets to take the lead on “Too Darn Hot”, deserves to be as widely known by the public at large as he is in the profession.

The London performances are slated for 20 Nov 2012 – Sat 2 Mar 2013, with opening night on the 1st of December. Performances are Mon–Sat 7.30pm; Wed & Sat 2.30pm, with no matinee performance on Wed 21 Nov, no evening performances on Mon 24 December or Mon 31 December, and no performances on Tue 25 December or Tue 1 January. There are extra matinees at 2.30pm on Mon 24 December, Fri 28 December, Sun 30 December & Mon 31 December.

Tickets range from £11 to £58 with concessions available from

Photo Credit: Alastair Muir


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