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Review: “Kiss Me Kate” at 5th Avenue Theatre: Apr 6 to Apr 29, 2018

Review: “Kiss Me Kate” at 5th Avenue Theatre: Apr 6 to Apr 29, 2018
April 19
00:15 2018

 

Kiss Me, Kate

Apr 6 – Apr 29, 2018

For a limited time, save 25% on zones 2-5 when you buy your tickets from this link. Mobile users log in and use promo code KISS.

Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by Samuel & Bella Spewack
Directed by Alan Paul
Choreographed by Michele Lynch

The 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Kiss Me, Kate is an uproarious and brilliantly performed take on Cole Porter’s multi-Tony Award winning musical. The show, set in the 1940’s, follows an acting troupe through the opening night of their presentation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Unexpected drama threatens to derail the production as a battle of the sexes rages on and off-set between the shows leads. Kiss Me, Kateexplores the topic of gender identity, providing two amazing female leads (Cayman Ilika as Lilli Vanessi and Robyn Hurder as Lois Lane) to balance out some of the sexism inherent in the worlds presented by Porter and Shakespeare. While the show perhaps pulls one too many punches in really tackling the subject of gender equality, it is delightfully charming with amazing performances from the entire cast. Director Alan Paul has created a loving revitalization of a Broadway classic that should not be missed.

Kiss Me, Kate begins on opening night of a 1940’s performance of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. The production’s director and leading man, Fred Graham (Ben Davis), has enlisted the star power of his now-famous ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi (Cayman Ilika), to play opposite him in the role of Kate, otherwise known as “The Shrew”. Fred has also brought his current fling, Lois Lane (Robyn Hurder), onto the show to play the role of Bianca. Joining Lois is her jealous boyfriend, Bill Calhoun (Clyde Alves) in the role of Lucentio. As the play commences, everything appears to be going smoothly. There may even be a chance for Lilli and Fred to rekindle their long-lost romance. Unfortunately, a misdelivered love letter and two thugs looking to collect on a forged IOU sends the performance spiraling into chaos.

The biggest stand-out of the 5th Avenue Theater’s production is the absolutely phenomenal cast. Ilika and Hurder are absolute stars, bringing the show to a halt with well-earned applause throughout the show. Both women are brilliantly talented singers while simultaneously lending amazing physicality to their roles. They have to be seen and heard to be believed. Not to be outshone, Davis delivers a wealth of charisma and charm to his performance. Davis’ powerful stage presence was constantly a joy to witness. Alves also deserves a fair amount of praise as one of the more impressive dancers I have seen on stage. The production’s supporting cast and ensemble deserve accolades as they proved themselves more than capable of keeping up with the shows leads. With their hard work and a lot of smart stage direction and choreography, you are ensured to always be seeing something fantastic taking place, no matter where your attention might be drawn. It should be noted that every single one of these amazing performers is putting on an amazing show while also nailing comedic timing and getting laughs from the crowd.

Every element of this production is a demonstration of the passion of talented artists. Not just the performers on stage, or the musicians in the pit, but the obvious love and care that went into the set design, transporting us between the dual worlds of Shakespeare and Porter. Watching the stage swiftly transform, walls and buildings gliding into place as the actors walk out, was truly magical. The attention to detail sold every set-piece and it felt as though we were staring at the back alley of Ford’s Theatre. This was all brought home through the amazing representation of Cole Porter’s fantastic score by music director and conductor Joel Fram, carrying us back in time to the 1940s.

At its core, the 5th Avenue Theatre’s production of Kiss Me, Kate is an immensely entertaining and lovingly crafted restoration of a Cole Porter masterpiece. There is a lot of subtle work done to address and rectify the sexist trappings of the two eras represented within the show. However, it is clear that the focus is not to rewrite the past, but rather to transport us to it while still maintaining a slight grip on the very real present. Perhaps while we are in the past, we will get to witness something truly outstanding.

Kiss Me, Kate is playing at the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle from April 6-29. Tickets can be purchased online at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900, or at the box office at 1308 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle.

 

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