April 7, 2011

Kiss Me Kate

Senior Jacquie Evans and junior Scott Hurst portray the bickering lead characters in the Stars Over Veishea production of Kiss Me, Kate. Photo by Nancy Thompson.

Classic musical comedy takes Veishea stage

by Erin Rosacker

Kiss Me Kate, this year's Stars Over Veishea production, begins its two-weekend run April 8 at Fisher Theater. Featuring songs and lyrics by Cole Porter, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical comedy follows a story within a story.

Set in 1948 Baltimore, a theater company is staging a musical adaptation of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. Unfortunately, the production's stars also are former husband and wife. Movie star Lilli Vanessi is cast as Kate, opposite ex-husband Fred Graham as the male lead Petruchio. To make matters worse, Fred also is directing and producing the show.

While battling publicly with insults and jealousy, Lilli (senior Jacqueline Evans) and Fred (junior Scott Hurst) revisit their feelings for each other. Ill-timed obstacles, such as gambling, gangsters and lovers, stand in the way of reconciliation. All of it plays out on stage, as the relationship between Lilli and Fred mirrors that of their characters.

"The audience will just love it," said Brad Dell, assistant professor of theater and the show's director. "The music will leave you humming, the words will have you rolling in the aisles, and the characters will warm the cockles of your heart. What more can you ask from a classic musical comedy?"

The Stars Over Veishea production is a cooperative effort with the department of music and theatre. Donald Simonson, professor of music, is conductor and music director; and Valerie Williams, director of Co'Motion Dance Theater, Ames, is the choreographer.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. (April 8-9, 15-16) and 2 p.m. on Sundays (April 10 and 17). Tickets, available through Ticketmaster and the Stephens ticket office, are $21 ($16 for students).