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Summer Music Theatre Opens With "Kiss Me, Kate"

June 16, 2005


MACOMB, IL - - “Kiss Me, Kate,” winner of five Tony Awards, will open Western Illinois University’s 34th Summer Music Theatre season with 7:30 p.m. performances Friday-Saturday, June 24-25 and Thursday-Saturday, June 30-July 2 in Western’s Browne Hall Hainline Theatre.

With music and lyrics by Cole Porter and book by Bella and Samuel Spewack, “Kiss Me, Kate” offers a rollicking version of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” Considered ‘a play within a play,’ “Kate” switches back and forth between the stormy backstage romance and the theatrical onstage antics of a divorced but still-in-love couple, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi. The story centers on the tryout of Fred’s musical version of “Shrew.” With Fred as Petruchio, Shakespeare’s leading man, and Lilli as Kate, his counterpart, the musical calls for the performers to have dual roles.

Christiane Morel (Boulder, CO), who will join Western’s theatre faculty in Fall 2005 teaching introduction courses, will play Kate/Lilli. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and French from the University of Colorado, a master’s degree in French from the University of Kentucky and an MFA in acting from Michigan State.

Kyle Payne (Queens, NY), who is pursing an MFA in acting at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG), is cast as Fred/Petruchio. He is a graduate of the Robert E. Cook Honors College of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a major in theatre and a minor in Spanish. Payne’s acting experiences include productions at Triad State, UNCG Summer Theatre, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival and the Becky Thatcher Theatre.

The musical’s subplot involves Lois, a helpless flirt, as Bianca - - played by Alison Gritz (Fairfield, IA) - - and her dance partner and incurable gambler, Bill, as Lucentio - - played by Charles Syndey Hirsh (Cincinnati, OH). Both performers are pursuing degrees in musical theatre at Webster University in St. Louis.

Laughter, double entendres and theatrical romance highlight the musical comedy that is all about love and taking risks.

“This is my first time directing for Summer Music Theatre, and I’ve been very impressed with the company’s high levels of talent and abilities,” said Marcus Olson, assistant professor of musical theatre and directing. “I’m smelling a pretty sensational show here.

“We have a talented company of actors, singers, dancers, designers, choreographers and technicians this year, and ‘Kiss Me, Kate’ is the perfect show to show off all those talents,” Olson added. “‘Kate’ offers all the things that one expects from a traditional ‘Golden Era’ Broadway musical: lots of singing, lots of dancing, lots of scenery, sumptuous and colorful costumes, plenty of comedic moments, and of course not just one, but two love stories mixed in. Add to that just a touch of Shakespeare and Cole Porter’s witty, clever lyrics (not to mention the catchy melodies), a play within a play, and … well, how could we go wrong?”

Favorite musical numbers include “Another Op’nin, Another Show,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Wunderbar” and “Tom, Dick, or Harry.”

Considered legendary Porter’s biggest musical hit, the original production of “Kiss Me, Kate” opened on Broadway at the New Century Theatre Dec. 30, 1948 with Alfred Drake and Patricia Morison in the lead roles. It is the only one of Porter’s productions to exceed 1,000 performances, running for 1,077 in its opening year. A film version was created in 1953, and the play was revived for Broadway in 2000. It garnered five Tony Awards in 1949, the same number the revival claimed in 2000.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for children under 12 and may be purchased at the Hainline Theatre Box Office, telephone 309/298-2900, or online at www.wiu.edu/summermusictheatre. Box Office hours are noon to 5 p.m. weekdays. Tickets may be picked up the night of the performances or during regular Box Office hours.

Season tickets for all three Summer Music Theatre productions are available for $50 at the Box Office. Upcoming shows include “Mame,” July 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16; and “Evita,” July 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30.

Summer Music Theatre

Posted By: WIU News, University Relations
Phone: (309) 298-1993 * Fax: (309) 298-1606