BWW Reviews: Cabrillo Scores with Cole Porter's KISS ME KATE
Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate is a timeless, delightful musical romp that can be seen again and again. It's an overblown, joyous account of two egotistical actors, once married to each other, who adore one another but just cannot be around each other very long without catastrophic, calamitous results. It's also a play within a play, as Lilli Vanessi (Victoria Strong) and FrEd Graham (Davis Gaines) are on tour essaying Katharine and Petruchio in Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Above all, the silly contrived story is overshadowed by Cole Porter's divine score with some of the most glorious tunes ever composed. Kiss Me Kate is a showcase to Porter's genius. Cabrillo Theatre's current revival is hilarious with top-notch direction from Richard Israel and boasts a delicious cast.
Heading the ensemble as Kate/Lilli is Victoria Strong with a lilting and lovely strong voice. Kate is assuredly verbal and must be able to express how she feels at all times without hesitation. Strong suits her divinely. Sharing top billing with her as Graham/Petruchio is Davis Gaines, a Broadway vet whose commanding presence and dulcet tones assure another outstanding performance. Equally wonderful are the supporting players. Reba Buhr as Lois/Bianca is adorable and perky and has her shining moment with "Always True to You in My Fashion". Scott Reardon is her beau Bill/Lucentio, and what great physical prowess as he dances across the stage and back! Steve Perren is a delight as GenerAl Harrison Howell, as is Martin Feldman as Kate's father, and Tom McMahon and StEve Greene bring down the house as the two thugs trying to collect on an I Owe You.Their comedic "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" is a killer. The 20+ ensemble dance beautifully with John Todd's steadily skillful choreography. Darryl Archibald serves terrifically as musical director. A. Jeffrey Schoenberg has designed vividly colorful period costumes.
Deliriously beautiful Cole Porter masterpieces include: "Another Op'nin, Another Show", "Wunderbar", "So In Love", "I Hate Men", "Were Thine That Special Face", "Too Darn Hot", "From This Moment On", and of course the title song "Kiss Me Kate". "Too Darn Hot" which opens Act II is always sizzling, and John Todd's choreography does not disappoint. Then there's also the gorgeous "Were Thine That Special Face". Porter was a genius composer and, unlike many show composers since, his songs work to heighten the score and equally as individual hits. You can leave the theatre really humming these tunes. When was the last time you could say that about a contemporary musical?
...Kate is a show that has it all: great songs, great dance, great physical and verbal sparring for the two actors playing Kate and Petruchio, and a lightweight delightfully silly plot to make the battle of the sexes thoroughly enjoyable. If you have never seen Kiss Me Kate, you owe it to yourself to catch Cabrillo's excellent production before October 27.