So In Love We Are! with NKU’s “Kiss Me Kate”
Review by Spenser Smith of Kiss Me, Kate:Â NKU Theatre
Northern Kentucky University closes its current season with a wildly entertaining production of Kiss Me, Kate, a musical within a musical telling of Shakespeareâ€™s The Taming of the Shrew.
The action of the musical within the musical tells the story of Shakespeareâ€™s characters Bianca (Natalie Bellamy) and Kate (Sally Modzelewski), whose father Baptista (Joshua Van Nort) would very much like them both to wed. Bianca is the more willing of the two, having fallen for Lucentio, who is her real life love Bill (Trase Milburn). Her sister Katherine is the shrew that cannot be tamed, although Petruchio, played by Fred (Alexander Slade), is willing to try. Are you still with me? This mirrors the action that takes place offstage. Lois (Bianca) and Lilli (Katherine) are having the same relationship issues in their real lives. Several mistaken identities and a forged signature contribute to the supporting characters, which adds to the evening’s many laughs. Ben Cohen (Gangster #1) and Kevin Birdwhistell (Gangster #2) come to collect a debt and find themselves a part of the show. They are given an opportunity to steal the moment towards the end of the show and they do not disappoint. The four lead actors hoof through all two and half hours, singing and dancing the shows many energetic production numbers. This show doesnâ€™t stop for a second to catch its breath and compliments are deserved by the whole ensemble. Stand-out moments include â€œTom, Dick or Harryâ€, â€œAlways True To Youâ€¦â€ and â€œBrush Up Your Shakespeare.â€
Director Corrie Danieley has assembled an all-star cast. What a pleasure it is to see her giving so many new faces the opportunity to shine. Her simple direction, backed up by efficient set design by Ron Shaw, allow the play to swiftly navigate multiple locations with ease. Nothing kills musical comedy quite like clunky transitions. Choreographer Rachel Perin (an NKU grad) has cooked up delicious material for both of Loisâ€™ numbers and a difficult tap sequence for Bill in Act 2. Perin has proven again that she has a knack for staging large production numbers with creative precision. This production is absolutely delightful. Itâ€™s the perfect representation of classic musical comedy.
Anxious for whatâ€™s next at NKU? Wunderbar! Check out their annual summer dinner theatre featuring Life Could Be a Dream, featuring doo wop tunes of the 50s and 60s running three weeks in June and the Neil Simon classic about two unsuspecting roommates The Odd Couple in July.