5th Avenue's KISS ME, KATE Begins Next Week

By: Mar. 28, 2018

5th Avenue's KISS ME, KATE Begins Next Week

Rehearsals are in full swing for The 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Kiss Me, Kate, which begins performances next Friday, April 6. Kiss Me, Kate, a significant work in the canon of great musical theater, features a dynamic cast including the previously announced Cayman Ilika as Lilli Vanessi/Kate,Ben Davis as Fred Graham/Petruchio, Clyde Alves as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio and Robyn Hurder as Lois Lane/Bianca. Joining them is an acclaimed local lineup of 5th Avenue Theatre favorites including Allen Fitzpatrick as General Howell, Allen Galli as Second Man, Sarah Russell as Hattie, Jeff Steitzer as Harry/Batista, Ty Willis as Paul andRichard Ziman as First Man.

The 5th Avenue Theatre's production of Kiss Me, Kate, a story that was written and takes place during the 1940s, is being staged in the era of the #MeToo movement-a time when women are speaking out more loudly and earnestly than ever about sexual harassment, consent and gender equality. Producing a musical that was created during a period when these hurtful behaviors and attitudes were sometimes viewed as acceptable requires a critical and thoughtful approach to the staging, direction and choreography. DirectorAlan Paul and choreographer Michele Lynch, who both worked on a previous production of the show at Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2015, return to Kiss Me, Kate with fresh eyes and are excited for the opportunity to make the story even more conversation-provoking and insightful for 2018 audiences.

"At the first rehearsal, choreographer Michele Lynch and I opened up a conversation with the entire cast and creative team about telling this story now, especially with the women in the cast," said Kiss Me, Kate director Alan Paul. "It's important to me that we work together as a team to make this production something we are all proud of and something that represents our values and beliefs. Bella Spewack and Cole Porter intended to write a strong female lead, so that's the spirit in which I'm approaching this production. I wanted to take a hard look at the misogyny that lives in both Shakespeare's work and in musicals of the 1940s and 1950s."

Playing April 6-29, 2018 (press opening Friday, April 13, 2018), tickets for Kiss Me, Kate start at $29 and are on sale now. They can be purchased at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900 or at the Box Office at 1308 5th Avenue in Downtown Seattle.

Kiss Me, Kate is the multi-Tony Award®-winning Cole Porter masterpiece that set the standard for great musicals and then broke the mold. Inspired by the real life story of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, the undisputed king and queen of Broadway from the 1920s to the 1950s, this sparkling sensation is, at its core, a true battle of the sexes. A charming leading man and his superstar ex-wife are starring in a production of Shakespeare's The Taming of The Shrew. As they swing from love to loathing and back again, their behind-the-scenes battles spill on to the stage and shine a bright light on long-standing historic issues of gender inequality. Kiss Me, Kate is a fantastic evening of amazing entertainment, celebrated music, fabulous dance, Great Performances and a little something more to tell us about how far we have come and how far we still have to go.

About the Cast

Cayman Ilika returns to The 5th Avenue Theatre to star as Lilli Vanessi/Katharine. Her previous 5th Avenue Theatre credits include Oliver!, The Pirates of Penzance, Saving Aimee, Candide and Buddy. She has been seen in the 5th Avenue Theatre/ACT Theatre co-productions Jacques Brel is Alive & Well and Living in Paris and Vanities - A New Musical (Kathy) with ACT Theatre and in the world premiere of Beatsville (Natasha) with Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota. Other favorites include Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins, Gregory Award Nominee) and Show Boat (Julie, Footlight Award) at Village Theatre and Persuasion (Anne Elliot) at Taproot.

Ben Davis makes his 5th Avenue Theatre debut as Fred Graham/Petruchio. He performed on Broadway in Violet (Preacher), A Little Night Music (Mr. Lindquist), Les Misérables(Javert & Enjolras), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Trevor Graydon) and Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème (Marcello - 2003 Tony Honor) and toured with The Sound of Music (Captain von Trapp) and Spamalot (Galahad). His UK credits include BBC Proms Kiss Me, Kate at Royal Albert Hall (Fred/Petruchio) and Sondheim at 85 with RTÉ Orchestra. His regional credits include South Pacific (Emile de Becque) and Oklahoma! (Curly) at The MUNY, Anna Nicole the Opera at BAM (Billy Smith), R&H with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood, Lincoln Center American Songbook Series, Kurt Weill's Knickerbocker Holiday (Brom Broeck) opposite Kelli O'Hara and Victor Garber, Westchester Philharmonic with Kelli O'Hara, Show Boat (Gaylord Ravenal) at Goodspeed Opera House and at LA Philharmonic. He has been seen on Film/TV as Papageno in Mozart's The Magic Flute directed by Kenneth Branagh and the film version of Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge.

Clyde Alves makes his 5th Avenue Theatre debut as Bill Calhoun/Lucentio. He was seen on Broadway in On The Town (Ozzie, Astaire Award nomination); Bullets Over Broadway; Nice Work If You Can Get It; Anything Goes; Wicked; Hairspray; Oklahoma! and The Music Man (Tommy Djilas, Astaire Award winner). He reprised Tommy Djilas in ABC's The Music Man. Alves was also seen Off-Broadway in Altar Boyz (Juan). He has performed in the recent encores of Hey, Look Me Over! (George M) and The New Yorkers (Monahan) and has performed regionally in the world premiere of The New World (Tago, Bucks County Playhouse); Crazy for You (Bobby Child, Drury Lane Theatre, Jeff Award Nomination); Nice Work If You Can Get It (Jimmy Winter, Music Theatre Wichita); Oklahoma! (Will Parker, The Muny) and Kiss Me, Kate (Bill Calhoun, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Helen Hayes Award winner).

Robyn Hurder makes her 5th Avenue Theatre debut as Lois Lane/Bianca. She has performed on Broadway in Nice Work If You Can Get It (Jeannie Muldoon), Grease (Marty),Chicago (Mona, Roxie u/s), Wedding Singer (Holly u/s), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Violet). She performed in the NYCC Encores! productions of The New Yorkers (Lola McGee) and Paint Your Wagon (Cherry Jourdell) and was in the national tours of A Chorus Line (Cassie), Spamalot and Starlight Express (Pearl). She has performed regionally at Drury Lane Theatre in Crazy for You (Polly Baker); Shakespeare Theatre Company in Kiss Me, Kate (Lois Lane, 2016 Helen Hayes Award Recipeint for Best Supporting Actress, 2016 Emery Battis Award for Excellence in Acting Recipient); Ogunquit Playhouse in Victor Victoria (Norma Cassidy) and From Here to Eternity (Karen Holmes) and at Mason Street Warehouse in Chicago (Roxie).

Allen Fitzpatrick returns to The 5th Avenue Theatre stage as General Howell. Kiss Me, Kate Marks Fitzpatrick's 25th appearance at The 5th. A Footlight Award winner forSweeney Todd, his 10 Broadway appearances include Les Misérables, Memphis, 42nd Street and The Scarlet Pimpernel. Fitzpatrick performed in five National Tours and starred in Sunset Boulevard. He shared an Emmy® for Sondheim's Passion and has performed in 12 Off-Broadway plays, 40 productions on Seattle-area stages and has multiple TV/film appearances including many Law & Orders.

Allen Galli returns to The 5th as Second Man. His previous 5th Avenue Theatre credits include Pop in The Pajama Game, Twimble/Wally Womper in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Rusty Charlie in Guys and Dolls, Mike in White Christmas, Krupke in West Side Story and Moonface in Anything Goes! Locally, Galli has appeared at Seattle Rep, SCT, ACT, Intiman, Village Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Regional credits include Arizona Theatre Company and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. He has been seen on TV in Grimm, Frasier and Twin Peaks.

Sarah Russell is back at The 5th as Hattie. Past credits include Grease, Hairspray in Concert!, RENT (The 5th Avenue Theatre); Dreamgirls, My Heart Is the Drum (Village Theatre); Howl's Moving Castle (Book-It Repertory); The Odyssey (Seattle Repertory); The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Seattle Children's Theatre); Big Fish (Taproot Theatre Company) and The Boy Who Cried Wolf (StoryBook Theater).

Jeff Steitzer returns to The 5th as Harry/Batista. He has been previously seen on The 5th Avenue Theatre stage in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Little Shop of Horrors, The Music Man, Hairspray and Titanic in Concert. On Broadway, he appeared in Mary Poppins and Inherit the Wind with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy and Off-Broadway in The Power of Darkness. Locally, he recently appeared in The Nance at ArtsWest, The Legend of Georgia McBride at ACT and Singin' in the Rain at Village Theatre.

Ty Willis returns to The 5th Avenue Theatre as Paul. He is the husband of Kelly Willis, a well-known children's theater arts instructor, and the proud father of three talented girls who also perform professionally. A veteran performer, Willis was recently featured in The 5th's production of Ragtime. He was also seen in The 5th Avenue Theatre productions of Most Happy Fella, My Fair Lady, Miss Saigon, Smokey Joe's Café, Buddy, Memphis and A Christmas Story.

Richard Ziman returns to The 5th as First Man. He has been previously seen at The 5th in Damn Yankees, Spotlight Night for Spamalot, and in the workshop for Beautiful Poison. His Broadway credits include Henry IV, Not About Nightingales, Laughter On The 23rd Floor, Lost in Yonkers and Epic Proportions (with Kristin Chenoweth). He has performed Off-Broadway with NY Shakespeare Festival, The Public, Manhattan Theatre Club and more, and locally with ACT, Seattle Rep, Intiman and Village Theatre. With his wife, actor/producer Leslie Law, he is creator-producer of Sandbox Radio LIVE, now in its seventh season at ACT and Town Hall.

The ensemble will feature the incredible talents of Tom Bentsen, Alex Crozier, Jade Solomon Curtis, Sapphire Goetz, Davione Gordon, Ekello Harrid Jr., Danielle Kelsey,Trina Mills, Annie Morro, Taylor Niemeyer, Con O'Shea-Creal, Richard Peacock, Katy Tabb, Joel Walker and Matt Wolfe.

About the Director

Alan Paul makes his debut at The 5th Avenue Theatre with Kiss Me, Kate. Paul serves as the Associate Artistic Director at The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. where he has directed Romeo and Juliet; Kiss Me, Kate; Man of La Mancha; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (2014 Helen Hayes Award Winner for Best Director) and revivals of Twelfth Night and The Winter's Tale. Regional credits include The Pajama Game (Arena Stage); I Am My Own Wife (Signature Theatre); Silence! the Musical and The Rocky Horror Show (The Studio Theatre); Fully Committed (Metro Stage) and many others. Classical credits include Penny (Washington National Opera), The Pirates of Penzance (Palm Beach Opera), Man of La Mancha (Portland Opera) and numerous collaborations with The National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Upcoming projects include Camelot and The Comedy of Errors at The Shakespeare Theatre.

About the Choreographer

Michele Lynch returns to The 5th Avenue Theatre, having previously worked on Hairspray as associate choreographer. Her Broadway credits include Everyday Rapture, The Coast of Utopia, Hairspray (associate choreographer), The Full Monty (assistant choreographer), Urinetown (assistant choreographer) and Victor/Victoria (performer) and her Off-Broadway credits include Little Miss Sunshine, Everyday Rapture and We the People. Select regional credits Kiss Me, Kate (Helen Hayes Award), Sondheim on Sondheim(Hollywood Bowl), Dirty Dancing (National Tour & Australian Tour), IDAHO! (The Smith Center), Little House on the Prairie (National Tour), Happy Days (Connecticut Critics Circle Award) and Show Boat (The Kennedy Center). Her work has been seen on film in The Last Five Years, Joyful Noise and Camp and in concert for Harvey Milk(Avery Fisher Hall) and Dolly Parton's Better Day World Tour.

About the Music Director

Joel Fram returns for his 18th collaboration with The 5th Avenue Theatre. He has worked extensively in New York and London, conducting the Broadway productions ofScandalous, Wicked, Sweet Smell of Success, The Music Man, James Joyce's The Dead, Jumpers and Cats; the West End company of Wicked; and Forbidden Broadway at the Menier Chocolate Factory. U.S. National Tours and regional credits include Falsettos, Cats and A...My Name is Alice (cast album). His collaboration with Andrew Lippa has included the world premieres of john & jen, The Little Princess and I Am Harvey Milk at Avery Fisher Hall with Kristin Chenoweth. At New York's Symphony Space, he co-produced the eight-hour marathon "Wall to Wall Stephen Schwartz" and, for Stephen Sondheim's 75th birthday, co-produced and curated the 12-hour marathon "Wall to Wall Stephen Sondheim." Fram currently runs the Musical Theatre Writing workshop at the National Theatre in London and is a Creative Producer for the Universal Music Theatre Development Office. Upcoming productions include Company in the West End, produced by Marianne Elliott.

About the Creative Team

Kiss Me, Kate showcases scenic design by James Noone, costumes based on the designs of Alejo Vietti and coordinated by Rose Pederson, lighting design by Paul Miller, sound design by Justin Stasiw, hair and makeup design by Mary Pyanowski Jones, fight directed by Geof Alm and features new orchestrations by Bruce Monroe and additional dance music arrangements by Michael Dansicker.

Additional staff includes Hattie Claire Andres (assistant director), Con O'Shea-Creal (assistant choreographer), Josh Archibald-Seiffer (associate music director), Matthew Webb (assistant lighting designer), Haley Parcher (assistant sound designer) Michael Notestine (assistant costume coordinator), J.R. Welden (production stage manager) andErin B. Zatloka and Lisa Gornet (assistant stage managers).

About the Writers

Cole Porter (Music and Lyrics) was born in Peru, Indiana in 1891. He attended Yale, where his football songs are still popular. After his first Broadway show bombed, he exiled himself to Europe and married legendary beauty Linda Thomas. Returning to New York in the late 1920s, he gained renown as the composer of some of the greatest songs ever heard on stage or screen, among them "Night and Day," "You're the Top," "Begin the Beguine," "Don't Fence Me In" and "Love for Sale." The 1930s were highlighted byAnything Goes, Gay Divorce, Jubilee and Born to Dance. An accident in 1937 left him in constant pain, yet he continued to write memorable scores, among them Can-Can, Silk Stockings and his masterpiece, Kiss Me, Kate. He died in 1964.

Samuel and Bella Spewack (Book) were reporters who met while working for their newspapers: Sam, The World; Bella, The Call. They married in 1922. Sam attended Columbia University in 1919. Bella chronicled her early years in the autobiography: Streets: A Memoir of The Lower East Side (1922), published posthumously (1995, Feminist Press). Their first play was Solitaire Man, written in 1926. Clear All Wires (1932) became Leave It to Me! (1938), their first collaboration with Cole Porter; Boy Meets Girl(1935) was inspired by Hollywood adventures. Among some 20 films were My Favorite Wife (1940) and Weekend at the Waldorf (1945). Kiss Me, Kate (1948) won Spewacks the first Tony Award ever given to the book of a musical. Others: Two Blind Mice (1949), My 3 Angels (1953), Festival (1955), Mr. Broadway (1957) and Once There Was a Russian (1961).

About The 5th Avenue Theatre

5th Avenue Theatre is one of America's leading musical theater companies. We enrich the community we love with the art form we love-giving the Pacific Northwest a front-row seat to original powerhouse productions that go on to light up marquees and audiences all the way to Broadway. From the page to the stage, we bring passion and epic scale to every musical we create. With big talent. Bigger-than-life productions. And did we mention dazzle? As a nonprofit theatre company and our region's largest performing arts employer, we spread the joy of great musicals with people of all ages across our region and state. Each year, we reach more than 75,000 young people through our nationally acclaimed education programs. Programs designed to develop new musicals ensure that the next generation of great musicals will be there to tell the stories that captivate tomorrow's audiences. On the national stage, we are a leading voice for the power of this American art form to lift the human spirit.

Photo: Robyn Hurder and Clyde Alves in the Shakespeare Theatre Company Production of Kiss Me, Kate - Photo Credit Scott Suchman

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