Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate” at the IU Auditorium is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” with the Shakespeare sandwiched as a play within the play. It’s a venerable story, but one that continues to hold interest. The recent film Ten Things I Hate about You was a recent remake. The production on stage in Bloomington is based on recent Tony award winning Broadway revival. It brings the show up to date technically, but leave both the solid story line and the great songs intact.
Director Joe Leonardo with choreography Todd Underwood and music director Kristy Nicholson have tailored a production to their talented cast and to the necessities of the road. Dexter James Brigham had difficulties with both the lowest and highest notes of his part but was big voiced and viral as Fred, off stage the company manager, and on stage Petruchio the wooer of the shrewish Katherine. He drew applause for the boisterous “I’ve Come to Wive it Wealthily in Padua,” and continued with “Were Thine that Special Face,’ and the wistful “Where is the Life That Late I Led?”
Emily Herring sang well and was suitably spirited as Fred’s bitter former wife back stage and Katherine the Shrew on stage. Her rampaging “I Hate Men” along with the considerably gentler “So in Love” and the positively unpolitically correct “I Am Ashamed that Women Are So Simple” were her featured numbers.
There were other standouts in “The Taming of the Shrew.” Lori Eve Marinacci was the perky Lois Lane, the girl who plays the fierce Kate’s sister Bianca. Lois chastises her boyfriend in “Why can’t You Behave” and explains her own lapses in fidelity with “Always True to You in My Fashion.” Garfield Hammons starred in the song and dance sequence “Too Darned Hot.” Brad Simmons and Noel Larrieu were charmers as the two gangsters with their “Brush Up Your Shakespeare.”
Cole Porter’s musical battle of the sexes, “Kiss Me Kate,” has its final performance at the IU Auditorium this evening at eight.