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“Kiss Me Kate”


This new version of Kiss Me Kate was fast, funny, full of pace and excellent portrayals plus super dance numbers.  I thought it was an excellent production on all levels.

I liked the scenery and backdrops, they all created a good feel, and were very well-lit – there were some imaginative and good effects.  The scene changes were slick and managed well.

Sound was really good throughout, underscores were just that, and I thought the orchestra under the baton of Susana Tierney got some lovely sounds, plus she had obviously worked a lot with the cast to get the sound and expression needed in the music, which gave us so much depth, contrast and expression.

The person who amazed me most was Matthew Gregory as Fred Graham – we all know Matthew has a superb voice, which suited the music of this part extremely well, but in this part he was the most relaxed and energetic I have ever seen him.  He leapt around the stage, on and off tables, and generally created a wonderful character – great depth, humour and rage.  I loved him!  The differences between the reality and the play were also nicely marked.

Of course, Matthew was well-matched by Charlotte Gregory as the elegant and fiery Lilli Vanessi.  Charlotte not only sang the role beautifully, but she got the different nuances of the character, both within and outside the play, giving us an extremely fiery Katherine, and showing us the softer side of Lilli.  

This couple led the way, and the rest of the cast stepped up to match them.  Matt Fowler really got the best out of his cast for this super show.

Another revelation for me was Russell Stratton as General Harrison Howell, this could have been a run-of-the-mill character, but Matt envisaged a full-on and slightly maniacal character, which Russell acted out really well – and his rendition of “From This Moment On” with Lilli, was so different to the norm, it lifted it and showed a different side to Russell.

I loved Joanne Goddard as Lois Lane – she was ditzy, but somehow all-knowing, and again gave the character that extra edge to make her so alive.  This is one of those parts that can easily be rather a background to the rest of the characters, but not with Joanne, she was excellent, and “Always True to You In My Fashion” was imaginative and good to watch, this young lady can not only sng, but matches it with her acting and dancing skills.

Mathew Collyer also gave us a charming Bill Calhoun, very much the debonair young leading man, utilising his dance skills to enhance his singing and acting.  So nice to see a younger man with all these skills.

Sam Gaines and Iain Doughty as the two gangsters added a marvellous comedy strain to the production, they interacted well with each other, and looked the part, with “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” being the full-on comedy number it is, which always goes down well with the audience, and this was no exception.

The opening was extremely good – loads of action, with “Another Op’ning, Another Show” very well-choreographed, and showing off Susan Ackroyd’s lovely voice.  She also created a nice Hattie.

“Wunderbar” and “So In Love” were just lovely – Matthew and Charlotte interact so well, and have that innate understanding of words and music.

The chorus members in the Market Square scene were extremely good, leading into a good set of musical extravaganzas!

I loved “Tom, Dick & Harry” – Josh Wichard and Henry Cox joined Mathew and Joanne in a full on dance number – Matt Fowler has such an instinctive feel for the music, and lovely to see people who can translate his visions into the action on stage.

“I Hate Men” was absolutely excellent – Charlotte as the Katherine character gave it the bile and depth of hate that made it seem so real.  Matthew followed on with “Were Thine That  Special Face” which was very masterful and also tongue-in-cheek.

I liked the ethnic feel to the dance that accompanied “Contiamo D’Amore” – it was nice to see that Matt isn’t afraid to use more traditional dance, and the ensemble did it well.

I have written “Wow” by “Too Darn Hot” – I just loved it – and wanted to see it all again.  Lee Harris as Howard fronted the number, it was fast-paced and inventive – and the lighting created a super feel to the number.

Brett Tyrrell as Ralph, Charlie Harden as Paul and Tony Bradburn as Harry, all created very good characters that backed up the main principals well, and put their own stamp on the production.

I can’t praise this production enough, it fulfilled all expectations and gave the audience a superb evening’s entertainment.  I understand audience numbers were a little disappointing, and all I can say is that those that didn’t see it missed a production that excelled, and was everything a musical should be.

Very well done to the entire cast, musicians and crew, this will go down as a truly spectacular musical experience.  So thank you all for the treat that was “Kiss Me Kate”.



St. Albans Operatic Society

KISS ME KATE” review date: 2nd November 2012

at Alban Arena, St Albans

Director &  Choreographer: Matt Fowler   

MD: Susana Tiemey

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