'Kiss Me, Kate'
by Patricia Somerset
November 2004 -- Churchill Theatre, Bromley
"Kiss Me, Kate" at the Churchill Theatre Bromley was a stunning show. So much depends on the chemistry between Fred/Petruchio and Lilli/Katharine and in this production it was working well. The opening number of the show was lively and a taste of the excellent ensemble pieces to come. Hattie, played by Alexandra Gunn had a lovely voice with a good range. It was no surprise to read of her experience on the jazz circuit.
After the opening number, the pace slowed, but took off again with Fred and Lilli singing "Wunderbar". Fred was played by Craig Urbani, who delivered his one-liners with panache, swashed an impressive buckle and sang well and with style. Julie-Alannah Brighten was very impressive in the role of Lilli. She went from haughty, elegant star to mud-spattered harridan with apparent ease. This is a very physically demanding role, but Julie-Alannah maintained her energy and vitality throughout the show. She is a versatile singer, able to both belt out the big numbers and sing the romantic ballads with feeling.
Michelle as Lois Lane/Bianca, though not big physically, filled the stage with her personality and her vibrant singing and dancing. She was ably accompanied by David Sellings as Bill Calhoun/Lorentio who also demonstrated his considerable and acrobatic dancing skills.
The music is of course wonderful and Vikki Coote's choreography made full use of it. Watching "Too Darn Hot", beautifully danced and sung by Leroy Ricardo Jones and the ensemble, we could feel the heat. It was exciting stuff and an effective contrast to, for instance, the measured sensuality of the "Pavance".
The gangsters were very entertaining, particularly Michael Greco, (who for me has blown his smooth East Enders image for ever!), but maybe there were times when they could have been given more "business" to do, rather than just having to stand an watch the action. The sets were very atmospheric, particularly the contrast between the bright Italian and the dark backstage scenes. The costumes were stunning. I particularly liked Fred's increasingly flamboyant outfits.
In all, the show was a real pleasure to watch, - an absorbing evening of great music matched by high standards of singing, dancing and acting.
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