Thu, 01 Aug 2019
Photo: Pamela Raith
"...everyone was a star and the people behind it all, director Paul Hart, Tom Attwood, in charge of the fantastic music, and choreographer Oti Mabuse must be congratulated on bringing Watermill audiences a wonderful get-away from your troubles evening"
JUST as it began, the woman in front hissed to her male companion: “Now, no singing along.” I had forgotten just how many golden songs were in Cole Porter’s score for Kiss Me, Kate, which opened on Broadway in 1948. Songs such as Wunderbar, Too Darn Hot and Always True to You in My Fashion were just some of the treats in store as the Watermill's cast of 12 launched into Another Op’nin’, Another Show and we began a journey that was to prove immensely watchable, listenable and completely satisfyingly-superb entertainment. You want an antidote to today’s troubles? This is it.
The story follows the production of a musical version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, from the book by Samuel and Bella Spewack. The Spewacks were asked to write the story by a future Broadway producer, then stagehand, who had noticed that the conflict between the two leading characters on stage in a standard production of the play continued off-stage.
Leading the cast of superb actor-musicians are Rebecca Trehearn as Lilli, ex-wife of Harry (Thomas Sutcliffe). This outstanding pair make the atmosphere on the stage sizzle with action as Harry attempts, in the on-stage Shrew, to woo his reluctant bride and, in the off-stage story, to re-start their love story. Harry’s despairing reprise of So In Love was unforgetttable.
Bubbly, lively Kimmy Edwards, as Lois Lane (Bianca in the play) had some of the most familiar songs, Tom, Dick or Harry and Always True to You in My Fashion and brought them vividly to life as she tried to persuade boyfriend Bill (Jay Perry) that she really was his.
Chiona Uma made an impressive professional debut as Hattie, Lilli’s dresser, but as always with actor musician productions, it is when the whole cast are on the stage, playing, dancing, laughing, bringing the story to life that is so gloriously vital, making it a joy to watch from the first moment. There were so many small movements and expressions, many easy to miss, which made this comedy/musical particularly enjoyable. In this production everyone was a star and the people behind it all, director Paul Hart, Tom Attwood, in charge of thefantastic music, and choreographer Oti Mabuse must be congratulated on bringing Watermill audiences a wonderful get-away from your troubles evening. Find a date when you can get tickets – you’ll be so pleased you did.
Review by Caroline Franklin
Kiss Me, Kate
at The Watermill, Bagnor, until September 21