Kiss Me Kate, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, September 2016Posted on 30 September 2016
The musical performance, singing and choreography in this fizzing five-star production of Cole Porter’s great musical should have you clapping, laughing and cheering. First created for Opera North last year, the colourful staging by Jo Davies seamlessly unifies classical opera singers with musical theatre artists, and David Charles Abell’s superb recreation of the original music was conducted with great pep by James Holmes.
This backstage take on Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew — where the actors playing Petruchio and Katherine fall out, and he gets her to stay in the show with the help of a couple of hoodlums who think he owes their boss money — is sheer delight. As Petruchio, Quirijn de Lang sang superbly in his hugely stylish portrayal of the role, well matched by the vocal feistiness of Jeni Bern as Kate. Their wonderfully natural interactions exhibited a spontaneity shared by the whole cast, none more so than the delightful Amelia Adams-Pearce as Kate’s sister Bianca. Joseph Shovelton and John Savournin as the hoodlums made a brilliant Morecambe and Wise double act, as if making it up they went along. They were a hoot, and their Brush up your Shakespeare was a riot of glorious singing and brilliant comic timing, taken up in the finale by the whole company with a little help from the audience.
All the numbers in this show were performed with sincerity and élan, and the huge panache of Too darn hot, with its superlative ensemble dancing and an unforgettable solo performance from Max Parker as Paul, made a glorious start to Act II. Will Tuckett’s imaginative choreography was well-judged and brilliantly danced, with super tap routines added, and the combination of singing, dancing and music is irresistible.
Excellent vivacity from the rest of the cast, notably Landi Oshinowo as a robust Hattie, and with Colin Richmond’s marvellous sets and costumes superbly lit by Ben Cracknell, this should charm even the most jaded theatre goer. As Dr. Johnson said, he who is tired of London is tired of life, and even some who are might respond to the infectious sparkle of this production. Unmissable.
As well as further performances at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff in October and December, WNO will take this to: Liverpool Empire Theatre, 5 Oct – 7 Oct; The Bristol Hippodrome, 13 Oct – 15 Oct; New Theatre Oxford, 27 Oct – 29 Oct; Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, 3 Nov – 5 Nov; Birmingham Hippodrome, 10 Nov – 12 Nov; Venue Cymru, Llandudno, 24 Nov – 26 Nov — for details click here.