Kiss Me Kate is a powerhouse musical with song and dance numbers that are sure to captivate and delight. The story is set in 1948 at the Ford Theatre, Baltimore. Fred Graham, brilliantly played by Simon Stone, is directing Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Fred has hired his ex-wife, Lilli Vanessi, played by the mega-talented Naomi Mole, to play Kate, the shrew he had once personally tamed. Things get a little heated when a bouquet of flowers is given to Lilli, instead of Fred's lover, the young actress Lois (Tess Burke). This miscommunication sets off a verbal and physical battle that intertwines Lilli and Fred's stage performance and backstage antics. To complicate matters, Lilli threatens to leave the show. Fred's only solution to keep Lilli from walking out is to make use of a couple of zany gangsters who have come to collect a $10,000 IOU fraudulently passed on to Fred by Lois's gambling lover, Bill Calhoun (Jack Harbour). Sound complicated? It gets messier. Somehow, the complicated mess gets sorted out amongst a flurry of musical numbers, vibrant costumes, and a lot of set changes from front of stage to backstage. Yes, it's a little confusing but the best thing to do is just enjoy the show.
The cast were incredibly dynamic, oozing vocal, dance and acting talent. They masterfully leapt into the air, performed acrobatic feats that were breathtaking, danced on furniture and climbed ladders. It certainly had me holding my breath in awe of their prowess. The singing was wonderful, especially the leads who were captivating. It was evident that the cast love performing and gave it their all, but I feel the need to make special mention of Patrick Phillips, who played Paul. His enthusiasm appeared intensified and it was obvious he was relishing his time on stage. George Pulley and Tess Burke also have great stage presence and gave outstanding performances.
Director, Andrew Cockroft-Penman has a very promising future ahead of him. He is a meticulous, hard-working director whose incredible efforts ensure an audience's enjoyment of a production. He has surrounded himself with a formidable network of performers, choreographers, musicians and crew that have produced an array of successful shows in Queensland. Examples of his thoroughness to create a memorable experience for the audience is the vast array of film clips depicting kissing scenes in major films of that era, although I noted some were post-1948. I found myself enjoying these clips so much that I realised I was missing the action on stage.
Kiss Me Kate was written by Bella and Sam Spewack with music and lyrics by Cole Porter. There is a very interesting history on how this play came to be written. I recommend buying the programme and having a read before the show starts. I'm sure had I read the snippet beforehand, I would have understood the storyline a lot better than trying to work it out as I went.
All up, I can say that Kiss Me Kate was obviously enjoyed by all judging from the resounding applause given at the end of each song. There were a few hiccups with sound, which were quickly rectified. There were moments where there was too much going on, between trying to follow the script and visual clutter that was veiled in a smoky atmosphere. I didn't understand why it was smoky. There was the clever use of mirrors, which I thought was a brilliant touch. The only criticism is that when using mirrors, it's imperative that they are crystal clean to maximise the effect.
When attending productions, I aim to bring along someone who has never experienced community theatre, although this has gotten me in trouble in the past. They are always surprised with the quality and value of the shows. I'd like to encourage you to do something a little different with the family and support community theatre. It's where stars are made and careers are created. One day, you might be saying, 'I knew them when ' Or maybe one day, you might decide, 'It's my turn to shine,' and fulfil a dream to work in theatre. Book your tickets and be a part of the magic. You never know what could happen.
Gold Coast Little Theatre may be tricky to find, but I encourage you to discover this little gem hidden at the Queen Street end of Scarborough Street, behind the Westpac drive-through bank, and adjacent to the Southport South tram station. Parking is available in front of the theatre. There is wheelchair access and an electronic chair to help those with wobbly knees to manage the stairs. On opening nights you get to enjoy snacks on arrival and supper after the show. There's a bar with an assortment of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and snacks ranging from cheese and biscuits to chocolates and chips.