"what a fantastic piece it is"
-The Stage-

"nab yourself a ticket"
-London Theatre-

"rich, lush, dreamy"

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"Toe-tapping tunes to sway along to"

Critic Rating

20 June 2018, London Coliseum
Susannah Martin Susannah Martin
A mash-up musical that combines typical tropes of musical theatre and opera with a good old bit of Shakespeare, Kiss Me, Kate is Cole Porter’s 1948 work that delves into the backstage of a touring show, as a divorced couple perform as the sparring lead roles in the Bard’s The Taming of the Shrew. Think Noises Off meets 42nd Street, with a peppering of sonnet thrown in.

Fred Graham and ex-wife Lilli Vanessi (played by sharp-witted baritone Quirijn De Lang and spirited opera singer Stephanie Corley) are gearing up to play Petruchio and Kate in their company’s production of the popular comedy. With tensions rising, the pair are soon forced to confront their true feelings for each other before their show goes down the drain.

Smatterings of other stories are thrown in here and there; Zoe Rainey’s show-stopping Lois Lane and Alan Burkitt’s mesmerising Bill Calhoun have a lovely romantic sub-plot (accompanied by a stunning tap solo), whilst Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin’s turn as comedy gangster duo steals the show.

It is, however, quite a lot of plot for only one play, and unfortunately there’s a little too much Taming and not enough Kate. Samuel and Bella Spewack’s book combines their story with snippets from Shakespeare’s text, which makes for a rather long-winded evening. Despite being effective in drawing the parallels of the central characters, it feels like a confusing, over-played device. And whilst “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” and “Too Darn Hot” are the numbers of the night, they’re uncomfortably shoe-horned in.

Jo Davies and Ed Goggin’s direction does little to aid the piece, and moments in Act Two certainly fall flat. Yet, although Kiss Me, Kate may not be a revolutionary revival (at times you are left questioning how necessary it is), it is most certainly an entertaining evening at the theatre. There are toe-tapping tunes to sway along to, but ultimately Cole Porter’s musical is yet to prove that it stands the test of time.

Reviewed by Susannah Rose Martin.

The Stage
It’s a beautifully lavish production, especially in the front stage Shakespeare scenes, with exquisite period costumes and a towering backstage set – exposed lighting rigs and timber flats – by Colin Richmond.
London Theatre
It’s the entire Broadway package, and it features some fantastic choreography from Will Tuckett. As Bill, Alan Burkitt plays a character it is difficult to feel partial towards, but his tap solo, which echoes around the vast Coliseum auditorium, is jaw-dropping.
Where this Kate works best is when the action is front and centre, it is there and only there that the energy or cast and audience clash and this musical really come to life, when the sparks fly is is truly Wunderbar!
Andrzej Lukowski
But it’s utterly glorious, a whirl of glorious melody and percussive, tap-led choreography that has a sort of abandon that's missing elsewhere. This production is an agreeable and loving restoration; but really, ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ could do with something closer to reinvention.