"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
KISS ME KATE
at the Public Hall, Witham
starts and ends with a dead stage – something Witham Public Hall
does well – making a satisfying frame for this ingenious meshing of
backstage drama and Shakespearean comedy.
the imaginatively choreographed opening, the stage is gradually
invaded by life, colour and youth for Another Opening, Another Show.
We meet the characters, in the Shrew and out of it, who will keep us
entertained for the next three hours; notably the actor manager, a
great actor and a gentleman, [David Slater's assured Fred] and his
leading lady and ertswhile wife, Miss Vanessi, cursed with the worst
temper in showbiz, [Julie Codling]. Excellent
performances, both dramatically and vocally, from this pairing, and
very easy to believe in their past careers understudying in operetta.
Superb too was Robyn Gowers' Lois – a wonderful sense of comedy in
the scene where she's wooed by the chorus boys [lively, snappy
choreography here], and in her clothes rail exit for Always True to
You in my Fashion.
everyone reached these heights, it's true, but a word for the two
Gangsters, Michael Mundell-Poole and George Jordan, doing their
front-cloth Brush Up with a selection of showbiz hats, and Ben
Huish's Paul, confidently leading the company in an energetic Too Darn Hot. The chorus worked well together, giving a real back-stage feel to the corridor, and obviously enjoying being Shrew extras.
Mundell-Poole's production was crammed with such delights – some
well-delivered Shakespeare, too – the sparring lovers separated
only by a thin [and wobbly] connecting door, the picture frame, the
tap routine for Bianca, the use of the Hall's architecture for Where
Is The Life, the leapfrog, the destination placards.
the cheesiness of provincial Shakespeare is gently suggested, with
one number looking like a number three tour of The Gondoliers.
Edom was the Musical Director, skilfully keeping the score moving
along, aided by some excellent musicians in the Public Hall pit.
classic favourite next spring, Oklahoma, the Rodgers and Hammerstein
hit which inspired Porter to try his hand at fully integrated musical