Dueling Appraisals of “Kiss Me, Kate” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Elizabeth Stanley and Paul Anthony Stewart and the cast of Kiss Me, Kate (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Elizabeth Stanley and Paul Anthony Stewart and the cast of Kiss Me, Kate (photo: Kevin Sprague)

Theater review by Gail M. Burns and Roseann Cane

Gail M. Burns: Kiss Me, Kate is not my favorite musical, but this production just blew me away. Everything about it was perfect. It was big and bold and colorful – non-stop action and comedy and dancing…I am out of superlatives. All I can say is Wowee-wow-wow! Whadda show!

Roseann Cane: Considered his most successful musical, Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate opened on Broadway on December 30, 1948, and ran for more than a thousand performances, winning the first ever Tony Award for Best Musical. …Kate was produced rather late in Porter’s remarkable career – his first Broadway show, in 1916, was the far-less-well-received See America First.

Gail: I think I like Porter’s songs far better than the shows and films they were written for. By the time he wrote Kiss Me, Kate, most of which was penned right here in the Berkshires in the Porters’ home in Williamstown, he had already lived through a decade of constant pain following a riding accident that left him crippled. Delightful as it is, the song “Where Is the Life That Late I Led” takes on a rueful irony for Porter himself.

Roseann: Based on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, Kate is essentially art imitating life imitating art. A divorced couple reunites to go on the road with a musical version of Shakespeare’s play, and their backstage relationship parallels the action onstage. Actress Lilli Vanessi (Elizabeth Stanley) has become a movie star since her separation from Fred Graham (Paul Anthony Stewart), the swaggering, egocentric director and producer of the play. Lilli, although preparing to remarry, is still in love with Fred, and hides her feelings until she receives a bouquet of flowers Fred had intended for someone else.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire On Stage.

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