Saturday, 29 November 2014

An Undeniably ‘Wunderbar’ Way to Spend a Friday Night (Oh, and to ‘Brush up your Shakespeare!’)

by Sophie Whitehead

Another Opening, Another Show. PGS does it again. Yet another spectacular performance of yet another spectacular play. With moments of true poignancy from all the cast encircled with roaring laughter from the audience, it has to be said that this year's production of  Kiss Me Kate is to go down in the record books as one of the best performances PGS has put on.

Kiss me Kate is one of the two most famous musical adaptations of Shakespeare, the other being West Side Story. This performance is a complete delight from beginning to end leaving the audience truly So In Love with the play by the end of it.  

Mr McCrohon's witty, lively production boasted terrific performances from all of the cast, musical numbers that you will certainly remember for a long while after the stage curtain drops, show-stopping dancing and costumes so flourishing that they lit up the stage just as much as they must have done when the play was originally performed in Austerity Britain in 1951.

For those that couldnt make it to see this show at the Kings Theatre, Kiss me Kate focuses on a theatre company putting on a musical version of The Taming of The Shrew (a play written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592). The ingenious use of ‘metatheatre (the idea of a play within a play) serves not to confuse the audience, but to entice it, with extraordinary musical numbers such as the heartwarming Wunderbar and So in Love’, ballads sung between director/leading man Fredrick C. Graham in the play (played by Lewis Mackenzie) and his ex-wife/leading lady Lilli Vanessi (Emma Read). Emma Reads voice resonated throughout the theatre majestically in her hit I Hate Men’, a hilarious song at the outset, yet with a darker undertone echoing undeniably the nascent feminist movement of the late 1940s. This contrasted with Mackenzies bawdy but also regretful hit Where is the Life that Late I Led? which often had the audience in fits. 

Kiss Me Kate contrasts two high powered, highly-strung, egotistical individuals (played by Mackenzie and Read) in their quest to find harmony together; the battling lead couple in Graham's production mirrors the battling lead couple in Shakespeare's play. Pippa Harris gave an undoubtedly brilliant performance as second-lead actress Lois Lane and Pete Rapp was affecting as her gambling-addict partner Bill Calhoun.

In addition, a couple of star-struck gangsters (scene-stealing performances by Rory Greenwood and Robert Merriam, not least in their crowd-pleasing rendition of 'Brush Up Your Shakespeare'), a pompous general (an excellent performance from Albert Wassenberg) and a host of other performances of impeccable comic timing, constantly brought a smile to everyone's face in the auditorium throughout the evening. Praise is due, too, to the director, Mr McCrohon, and the Musical Director, Mr Gladstone, and a very versatile orchestra.
In conclusion? This play? All very smart. All very worth a watch. In factI went twice. 

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