KISS ME KATE, 4Star****, WNO on tour

Birmingham and Touring
Kiss me Kate: Book – Samuel & Bella Spewack/Music & Lyrics – Cole Porter
Birmingham Hippodrome: 10th to 12th November

Runs: 3 hrs, one interval

Review Paul & David Gray 12 11 16

Big voices and big fun in timeless classic musical
Kiss me Kate sets Shakespeare but does not take its classical origins too seriously. In many ways, therefore, it is the ideal vehicle for a classically based opera company to let down its hair and have some fun.

As one would expect from WNO, this is an evening of high vocal excellence, from both the soloists and the chorus; which provides a satisfying and rich wall of sound to round off the big production numbers. Quirijn de Lang as Fred Graham and Claire Wild both deliver Porter’s timeless ballads with great beauty of tone and subtle colouring. The latter gives a very complete and integrated performance which belies the fact that she is stepping in due to indisposition. The WNO Orchestra, under the baton of James Holmes are, by turns, suitably suave and sassy, and take time to bring out the scores ravishing harmony and exquisite detail during the slower numbers.

Fun, however, is this production’s chief characteristic. This is a slick, fast paced show. A clever and fluid staging, full of pleasing period detail, moves us effortlessly between locations, so that the energy levels never drop for a moment. Soloists and chorus all radiate personality. Particularly Joseph Shovelton and John Savourin as the two gangsters whose Brush up Your
Shakespeare provides the comic highpoint of an evening already full of comic gold.

My one reservation was that I would like to see more emphasis on dance, particularly during the first act; where the choreography tends to get swamped by the bustle of the large non-dancing chorus. This is less the case during the second act. It’s too Darn Hot, is neither too hot, nor too cold, but sizzles just the right amount. Alan Burkit dazzles with bewilderingly fast tap during Bianca.

All in all, this a class act, balancing musical excellence with high entertainment value. I can almost guarantee, you will leave the theatre smiling and humming.

Quirijn de Lang: Fred Graham/Petruchio
Claire Wild: Lilli Vanessi/Katherine
Amelia Adams-Pearce: Lois Lane/Bianca
Alan Burkitt: Bill Calhoun/Lucentio
Landi Oshinowo: Hattie
Max Parker: Paul
Matthew Barrow: Hortensio
Jon Tsouras: Gremio
Joseph Shovelton: First Gunman
John Savourin: Second Gunman
Morgan Deare: Harry Trevor/Baptista
David Peart: Harrison Howell
Adam Trench: Nathaniel
Joseph Poulton: Gregory
Louis Quaye: Phillip
Rosie Hay: Ralph (stage manager)
Martin Lloyd: Doorman
Julian Boyce: Cab Driver
Dancers: Alex Christian, Flora Dawson, Matthew John Gregory, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Ella Martine, Jamie Emma McDonald
The Chorus and Orchestra of Welsh National Opera
Conductor: James Holmes

Director: Jo Davis
Designer: Colin Richmond
Lighting Designer: Ban Cracknell
Choreographer: Ed Goggin
Associate Choreographer: David Hulston
Assistant to Choreographer: Alex Newton
Dialect & Dialogue Coach: Emma Woodfine
Dance Captain: Jamie Emma McDonald

2016-11-12 16:04:05

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