BWW Review: KISS ME, KATE, Crucible, Sheffield
This is an enthusiastic, energetic and lovingly crafted piece of work. The songs get the crowd cheering-with "Too Darn Hot", "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" and "I Hate Men" getting the largest response. The show has real warmth and humour, and there are some spectacular routines, especially the opening numbers of each act.
The leads all give spirited performances. As Lois/Bianca, Amy Ellen Richardson has just the right level of knowing to keep her flirting entertaining and her character sympathetic. Edward Baker-Duly as Fred/Petruchio is a perfect cad. But, of course, as Lily/Katharine, Rebecca Lock has the meatiest role and sinks her teeth right in. We sympathise with her character, even (or, perhaps, especially) when she is being outrageous.
The set design is another winning choice from recent BroadwayWorld UK award winner Janet Bird. Here, the setting moves deftly between the theatre backstage and the front stage for the musical-within-a-musical version of Taming of the Shrew. The Shakespearean sets and costumes are rendered in bright neons that aid the sense of the Bard's work being pushed to its most ridiculous extremes.
Howard Hudson's lighting design is stunning, and it's a lovely touch to have the orchestra present whilst we are seeing the musical within the musical and hidden when we are 'backstage'.
If there are some qualms, the show was a little long, partly because the songs themselves go on a long time - although this is more a fault of Kiss Me, Kate than of this particular production. There could also, perhaps, have been a few more risks taken - but these are small issues. Overall, this is a real Christmas treat that will leave the audience singing and wanting to brush up their Shakespeare!
Kiss Me, Kate is at the Crucible, Sheffield until 12 January, 2019.
Photo by Manuel Harlan.