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Kiss Me Kate
a Musical Comedy
by Cole Porter (songs) & Sam and Bella Spewack (book)

COMPANY : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Stage Door Players [WEBSITE]
ID# 4941

SHOWING : July 15, 2016 - August 07, 2016



The great backstage "show within a show" musical comedy, featuring what many call Cole Porter’s greatest score, comes to Stage Door in all its Shakespearean tongue in cheek glory. This hysterical, tuneful battle of the sexes, where each cast member’s on-stage life is complicated by what is happening offstage, contains such Porter classics as "So In Love," "Too Darn Hot," "Wunderbar," "From This Moment On," and "Another Opening, Another Show."

Director Alan Kilpatrick
Harrison Howell Richie Crownfield
Hortensio Benjamin Davis
Baptiste George Deavours
Gun Moll Jessica DeMaria
Ensemble Brittany Ellis
Ensemble Shelby Folks
Gangster Luis Hernandez
Paul Greg Hunter
Bill Calhoun/Lucentio Andrew Klopach
Lilli Vanessi/Kate Paige Mattox
Lois Lane/Bianca Lyndsay Ricketson
Gremio Tyler Sarkis
Fred Graham/Petruchio Bryant Smith
Hattie Xylina Stamper
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Kudos, Kate
by playgoer
Monday, August 8, 2016
Mix together inventive choreography (by Jen MacQueen), spot-on direction (by Alan Kilpatrick), a versatile set (by Chuck Welcome), and a cast filled with triple threats, and what do you get? Stage Door Players’ magnificently entertaining "Kiss Me Kate."

Mr. Welcome’s corner set uses a proscenium opening that at times is covered by a drop of an Italian vineyard, at other times by alley or backstage flats, and that otherwise reveals the twin dressing rooms of contentious stars Lilli Vanessi (Paige Mattox) and Fred Graham (Bryant Smith). J.D. Williams’ lighting design keeps the action in focus, and Jim Alford’s costumes generally add to the color and fun (although I thought Kate’s purple wedding dress seemed an unfortunate choice). George Deavours’ wigs work well, although more are used than are strictly necessary (and at least one of which should have come off during the "Too Darn Hot" number to be used as a fan).

Sound, designed by Rial Ellsworth, is more problematic. There are a lot of powerful voices in the cast, but everyone sports a microphone, and the amplification is too obviously turned up as musical numbers start (although not always for all the actors at the same time). Nick Silvestri’s five piece band is backstage, and it feeds through the same sound system as the actors’ microphones, which does it no favors. It’s not bad, but it suffers from some of the same over-amplified qualities as the voices.

Don’t get me wrong; the songs sound fabulous. No one has a voice less than wonderful. Paige Mattox’s voice may not have the thrilling tonal quality of Bryant Smith’s, but her range, power, and expression work thoroughly in support of her character. Lyndsay Ricketson proves the dictionary definition of "triple threat," with tremendous singing and dancing, along with an endearingly comic presence in her acting. Jessica DeMaria shines in her every moment onstage, ably assisted by Luis Hernandez in performing the delightful comic shtick Alan Kilpatrick has given them.

Aside from the fabulous singing, we have fabulous dancing. Tyler Sarkis and Brittany Ellis have a breathtaking pas de deux, and the choreography of "Tom, Dick, or Harry" has Ms. Ricketson airborne as much as she is on the ground. Staging of less dance-filled numbers, like "I Hate Men" and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare," proves equally clever and joy-inspiring.

Are there negatives to the show? Mighty few. The only performance I found lacking was that of AJ Klopach as Bill Calhoun, who seemed to invest little in his role, although his singing and dancing were perfectly fine. Microphone problems and balky unrolling of the Italian drop were momentary glitches, easily and swiftly corrected. The biggest negative, of course, is that the show comes to an end, giving the audience just the opportunity to jump up for a standing ovation before being sent on their way back to their comparatively hum-drum, unmusical lives. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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